Time we held charities accountable on disaster appeals

Raelene HallMidwest Times
A firefighter on the job in NSW this month.
Camera IconA firefighter on the job in NSW this month. Credit: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

I’m always happy to donate to a worthy cause, especially in times of disaster in Australia.

In latter years though, I’m getting a little more reluctant to get my credit card out — not because I don’t want to help my fellow Aussies, but because I’m concerned about where my donated dollars end up.

When the 2010/11 Queensland floods occurred, I was happy to donate to a major fundraiser for those affected, assuming the money would get to those in dire need.

I was shocked when, more than a year later, I heard a radio interview with flood victims who had not received any of the funds.

We are often told that, in times of disaster, donations of cash are the most beneficial way to help those affected.

Certainly, where we are located, it is more practical than trying to send any kind of physical items such as clothing, toiletries or other basic necessities.

The response to the bushfires in Australia this summer has been incredible.

Huge financial donations have been made by celebrities, businesses, philanthropists, sports stars and more, along with those by everyday Australians.

My questions are: a) where is the money going? And, b) how and when will it be distributed to those in need?

If you have lost everything in a fire, you need help immediately.

Let’s face it, there isn’t a great deal you can do without money.

If you have to wait weeks or months to receive assistance, what are you supposed to do in the meantime?

And, someone who has been traumatised by the loss of everything they own is not in the mental space to be filling out endless forms or making phone calls (if they still have a phone) to Centrelink (which is frustrating enough at any time).

There are so many places to donate to, but how do you know where your money is going to make the most difference?

Which organisation is going to ensure all funds get to those who need them?

If I donate to a bushfire appeal I want my money to go to the victims of that bushfire, not be saved for another disaster.

I don’t want my money used to pay a chief executive’s inflated salary.

It has become a minefield and it’s time something more effective was put in place.

Just an aside: where are all these big donors when drought is mentioned?

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