The Minderoo Foundation in Nedlands, Western Australia, has pledged up to AU$70 million ($48 million) n support of relief, recovery, and resilience efforts in response what has become an unprecedented bushfire season in Australia.
The commitment from Minderoo Foundation founders Andrew and Nicola Forrest includes AU$10 million ($6.86 million) to mobilize specialist volunteers — firefighters, paramedics, tradespeople, mental health workers, and ground clean-up personnel — from the state of Western Australia to assist firefighting operations and recovery efforts in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. Another AU$10 million has been designated to seed the Minderoo Foundation Fire Fund, which will work with local organizations such as the Australian Red Cross and Salvation Army Australia to provide funds to affected communities for rebuilding and revitalization efforts, including repairing infrastructure, supporting local businesses, caring for wildlife and livestock, and/or providing equipment needed for recovery operations. The foundation, which over the past decade has provided support for relief assistance in the wake of previous bushfires outbreaks and other natural disasters, will cover one hundred percent of the fund's administrative fees.
The remaining AU$50 million ($34.3 million) will support the development of a national long-term fire and disaster resilience blueprint. With the support of environmental nonprofit Conservation International, the project will draw on existing research and expertise to accelerate the development of innovative new approaches to bushfire mitigation by addressing factors that contribute — and shape human responses — to natural disasters. Focus areas of the effort are likely to include climate change, mental health, science and technology, environmental conservation, water security, and land management. The funds also will be used to launch a global campaign spearheaded by the foundation to raise approximately AU$500 million from other funders in support of the effort.
"With incredible courage and determination, Australians have united to help those devastated by these bushfires," said Andrew Forrest, founder and chair of Fortescue Metals Group and a Giving Pledge signatory. "At Minderoo Foundation, we want to provide immediate relief because, like so many other West Australians, we mourn the hardships of our fellow countrymen and women. We recognize that we don’t have all the answers, but we want to understand what communities need and do our bit to help them now and as they regroup in the coming months."
"In the weeks and months ahead, people directly impacted by these fires will need both practical and emotional support," said Nicola Forrest. "We hope Minderoo Foundation's contribution will complement existing efforts, provide hope to those hurting, and encourage others to help in any way they can – big or small."