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$51 million: Where Celeste Barber's bushfire money is going

(Source: Getty, 7News)
(Source: Getty, 7News)

The NSW Rural Fire Service has revealed how the $51 million dollars raised through Australian comedian Celeste Barber’s viral bushfire fundraising campaign will be spent.

Speaking on Sunrise this morning, NSW RFS inspector Ben Shepherd revealed $30 million will be dedicated to new high-tech equipment, including state-of-the-art helmets and tracking devices.

A further $20 million will be distributed to brigades across NSW for station upgrades and “enhancements”, including thermal imaging cameras and mobile signal boosters.

Meanwhile, a “separate” $10 million will be kept in a “benevolent fund” to provide assistance to injured firefighters and the families of those who were killed in the line of duty.

An extra $2 million will go to a new app that will improve dispatch operations, 9News reported, which will allow NSW RFS to see who is attending fires and how far they are from the fire station.

The money from Barber’s Facebook fundraiser, which attracted millions of donations across the globe, was intended to go to multiple charities and bushfire victims.

But because Barber had designated NSW RFS Trust as the campaign’s benefactor, the money could not be distributed to other groups, a NSW Supreme Court ruling declared.

“I'm gonna make sure that Victoria gets some, that South Australia gets some, also families of people who have died in these fires, the wildlife...I get it, I get it all, I'm hearing you all,” Barber said on her Instagram last January.

“I want you to know that, otherwise why raise this money if it's not going to go to the people who absolutely need it.”

Shepherd told Sunrise its volunteers were asked what the service should do with the millions of dollars, and that Australians should have “confidence” that the RFS is spending the funds correctly.

“That money was donated to our firefighters, we had to ask them where they wanted to spend it, because ultimately that money is theirs,” he said.

“There’s a number of different projects the money is being funnelled into.”

“It’s ultimately the firies determining how it’s going to be spent, because the money was donated to them,” he said.

At the time of publishing, Barber’s Facebook fundraiser, which has since ended, had raised $51,299,348.

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