Red Cross Rejects Claims It's Hoarding Millions In Bushfire Relief Funds
The Red Cross has denied claims it is hoarding donations, stopping bushfire victims from getting the help they desperately need, because it is saving cash for future disasters.
On Wednesday the charity was slammed for only committing $30 million of the $115 million raised by generous Australians to provide immediate relief.
However, Noel Clement, director of Australian programs at the Red Cross denied those claims, arguing the charity had already committed $30 million for immediate relief and had paid out more than hundreds grants worth $10,000 to those whose homes have been destroyed.
The rest he said, will also be used to provide immediate relief.
In his statement, he declared the balance "will be spent responding to these bushfires”.
“We have committed to staying in these communities, working with them once their needs become clearer, especially as the bushfires are continuing to burn and the full extent of the needs is yet to emerge," he said.
He confessed 10 per cent of the funds would be used for administration costs which ensures the charity can pay grants promptly, track donations, collect and analyse information and have systems in place to deploy emergency teams.
“The money is all being spent in Australia," Clement said.
“The Red Cross has consistently said the funds will be used for Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery work, with the focus on the current bushfire crisis.
In an explainer posted to Facebook The Red Cross outlined exactly what it plans to do with those donations. For instance, $5 million will be used to provide round-the-clock support, another $1 million has been dedicated to families who have lost everything.
$18 million will support community recovery of the next three years and the rest of the funds will be used for further immediate relief and longer-term support.
"Announcements will be made as funds are allocated... we will continue to be transparent," the post said.
Of all the money raised by charity, bushfire victim Greg Franklin who is based in Surf Beach, NSW, told Ten News First he has only seen $1000.
"We need to start buying things for our children to bring back some normality to their life. They lost everything. They lost their Christmas presents. A pushbike, a scooter, a fishing rod or reel. It's going to mean the world to them," Franklin said.
NSW State MP Andrew Constance has also been left fuming and has now issued a call to arms.
"The money is needed now, not to sit in a Red Cross bank account earning interest so they can map out their next three years so they can do their marketing and administration," he said.
"It's just heartbreaking."
Other charities are also in the firing line.
As of yesterday, The Salvation Army had raised $30 million but only handed out $5 million, St Vincent de Paul had raised $12.5 million but have provided only a little over $1 million in NSW so far.
Constance has sent a warning to charity bosses saying they should meet him in Batemans Bay on Saturday so he can personally show them the hundreds of kilometres of devastation.
"I will show you the people. You can look them in the eyes," he said.
Speaking to the Today Show this morning, Clement also argued this is a complex situation that needs to be addressed carefully.
"We want to ensure people have support as they need it," he said.
"We know there will be people who will struggle to rebuild, and we know there will need to be support for some people, much larger amounts, when they are ready to rebuild."