- »Crown and Packer Foundations Donate to Wildfire Relief
Crown and Packer Foundations Donate to Wildfire Relief
The wildfires in Australia have gripped the attention of the world. Many feel helpless as to how they can help the people and animals affected so disastrously. Money always helps, though, and the Packer Family Foundation and Crown Resorts Foundation teamed up to donate several million dollars.
The past year has not been an ideal one for billionaire James Packer and his Crown Resorts. A massive investigation into the potential money laundering, trafficking, and other crimes led to much scrutiny from law enforcement and government entities.
Packer was also prepared to sell a solid percentage of his Crown shares to begin a move away from the business, but the Crown scandal forced Melco to put the purchase on hold.
It would be no surprise that Packer tried to stay out of the public eye for the last few months, but the fires prompted a humanitarian response. And that response in the form of $5 million was much needed.
Original $1M Donation
Billionaire James Packer was first moved to donate to wildfire relief in November 2019.
What started as typical bushfire season fires quickly burned out of control in late 2019. More fires continued to appear – many of which were purposely set by people who are now facing charges – in various parts of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
Fires were severe in September 2019 but became more dire in November. The Australian government stepped in with manpower from the Australian Defence Force, and firefighters began to fly into heavily-suffering areas from New Zealand, then the United States and Canada.
By November, NSW had increased the danger rating for the bushfires to “severe.” Temperatures rose as dry and windy conditions prevailed. Officials ordered more and more evacuations, as the number of homes destroyed topped 250 and kept increasing.
Packer and his family were “touched by the tragedies and bravery occurring daily.” And with that, he donated $1 million in what he called a “modest contribution” to the NSW Rural Fire Service. Much of the money was going to be used for extra firefighting equipment and any other immediate needs.
Another $4 Million
As the calendar turned over to a new year, the bushfires raged and continued to grow. The latest reports on January 6 showed that 4.9 million hectares (the equivalent of about 12 million acres) had burned or continue to burn in New South Wales. And the NSW Premier had declared the latest of many states of emergency due to the fires and continually rising temperatures.
The Packer Family Foundation felt the need to do more and teamed up with the Crown Resorts Foundation to donate a total of $4 million, new and separate from his previous donation.
The charities paid the money immediately to volunteer fire services in NSW, Victoria, and Western Australia so it could be used as needed. Crown maintains properties in each of those states.
The full $5 million was distributed as follows:
- NSW Rural Fire Service (donated in November) = $1 million
- Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) = $1 million
- Western Australia Bush Fire Brigade (BFB) = $500,000
- Australian Red Cross = $500,000
- Victorian Government/Bendigo Bank/Salvation Army fund = $1 million
- Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) & Zoos Victoria = $1 million
“Australians are digging deep to support each other in these tough times; it’s truly inspiring,” Packer said. “My family and Crown are eager to do more, and the best way we can help is to significantly increase our donation. We hope these funds play a small part in helping our firefighters and easing the suffering of people who have lost their homes and the poor wildlife caught up in the blaze. We just want to do our bit.”
Packer’s sister and chairperson at the Packer Family Foundation noted, “Our donation will be directed to firefighters and those caring for affected communities and wildlife. This crisis is far greater than any one contribution, but, like so many others, we wanted to do what we could to support everyone facing these fires.”
Donations Pouring In
The inspiration to donate has been contagious.
Australian celebrities were among the first to donate significant sums of money. Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban donated $500,000. Kylie Minogue did the same, and Chris Hemsworth and family announced a $1 million donation. Russell Crowe donated $105,000 directly to RFS Captain John Lardner and raised another $400,000 through an auction.
Other celebrities have chimed in as well. Singer Pink donated $500,000, Elton John donated $1 million, and the rock group Metallica pledged $750,000. Kylie Jenner donated $1 million.
Australian comedian Celeste Barber raised more than $31 in her efforts via a Facebook fundraiser.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported today that more than $140 million has been donated to bushfire victims thus far, including the aforementioned funds.