Comedian Celeste Barber’s mammoth $52 million bushfire relief fundraising effort has been stalled by red tape and regulations.
Barber’s online appeal garnered international attention last month, drawing donations to help bushfire affected communities of New South Wales.
None of the money has been spent due to RFS rules that state donations must be spent on firefighting equipment and training, not on families or charities, the Sunday Telegraph reports.
Lawyers for both parties will meet soon to figure out how to unlock and distribute the funds.
RFS spokesman Ben Shepherd said the service wanted to distribute the money in line with Barber’s wishes and both sides’ lawyers would try to find a way.
“No one is being bad about this, it’s all very amicable, and we will try and see her wishes through,” he told the newspaper.
“But, as it stands, the RFS is the beneficiary and we can’t donate money people gave us to other charities.”
The setback comes as Barber prepares to host the huge Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief concert in Sydney on Sunday.
— Celeste barber (@celestebarber_) January 4, 2020
Profits from the event will go to the Red Cross’ disaster relief and recovery fund, rural and regional fire services and the RSPCA’s bushfire appeal.
Barber’s campaign amassed nearly $40 million in the first three days of it launching, with celebrities like Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen DeGeneres, Pink and Hugh Jackman throwing their monetary support behind the Australian comedian.