Celeste Barber’s $51 million bushfire fundraiser

Kayla Scott

29 May 2020


  • Business services

Celeste Barber did an extraordinary job raising money to show support for firies and those affected by the bushfires, and now the NSW Supreme Court has decided how it may be spent. Kayla Scott explains who will see the money and who will miss out.

The fundraising

During what was one of the most difficult summers for Australians, comedian Celeste Barber took matters into her own hands and raised $51.3 million for the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) and Brigades Donation fund.

On 26 May 2020, the NSW Supreme Court confirmed that the money raised cannot legally be used for many of the causes Celeste nominated, due to the terms of the trust document.


The beneficiaries of the money are limited to volunteers with the NSW RFS. The NSW RFS will use the money for 70,000 new helmets, retrofitting vehicles and trucks (with protective sprays and curtains) as well as modifications to RFS stations and training for personnel.

Other beneficiaries are injured NSW firefighters and the families of NSW volunteers who were killed in the fires. (This will only apply to NSW personnel.)


The court’s decision excludes families that were devastated by the fires, Australian Red Cross and WIRES. Furthermore, the money cannot be distributed to other states.


This ruling serves as an important reminder for people who wish to raise funds for a charity or a good cause to ensure that they read the trust document prior to making any promises. The trust document will constrain the application of monies, even in extraordinary circumstances such as the NSW bushfires.

How can we help?

If you wish to make donations to a charity, and want to ensure the money is going to go to where you intend it to, please do not hesitate to contact our Business Services team on 02 6285 8000 or by email.