While the NSW Rural fireys will benefit from people’s goodwill thanks to Celeste Barber’s fundraising efforts, it’s a far cry from where many people hoped the money would be distributed. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING
While the NSW Rural fireys will benefit from people’s goodwill thanks to Celeste Barber’s fundraising efforts, it’s a far cry from where many people hoped the money would be distributed. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING

Community goodwill latest casualty of 2020

THIS past summer will be remembered for three things capable of killing: bushfires, COVID-19, and fine print.

The lethality of the first two is obvious.

The last is more insidious, laying waste not to life but hope.

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Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision on comedian Celeste Barber’s record-breaking $51 million charity drive, that it can be used by NSW’s rural fire service only, is yet another blow to community goodwill.

The slow delay in groups like the Red Cross handing out financial support to victims of the bushfires has dampened community interest in donating to them.. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times
The slow delay in groups like the Red Cross handing out financial support to victims of the bushfires has dampened community interest in donating to them.. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

For those wondering what the score is: more than $290 million was raised by Barber, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army in a staggering outpouring of goodwill at a time when many people can’t afford to keep their own lights on. But as of last month less than $100 million had been distributed.

This month reports surfaced Queenslanders were now reluctant to donate to major charities. Even Stevie Wonder saw that one coming.

Those who lost everything in the fires have to keep waiting for financial help to arrive. (AAP Image/Sean Davey) NO ARCHIVING
Those who lost everything in the fires have to keep waiting for financial help to arrive. (AAP Image/Sean Davey) NO ARCHIVING

The Barber decision is unlikely to spur confidence.

Meanwhile those ordered to evacuate while their houses burned down – and then, ironically, ordered to #stayathome when the smoke cleared – are left with nothing but ashes, broken dreams and a grim reality: the fine print will get you.

Every time.