More than $1.4 million in donations will soon flow to the families of children killed and injured in Tasmania’s jumping castle tragedy, after legal issues over an online fundraiser were resolved.
Six students at Devonport’s Hillcrest Primary School were killed and three badly hurt when the castle and several inflatable Zorb balls became airborne during final-day celebrations in December.
Zoe Smith, who grew up in Devonport, set up a GoFundMe page – which received about 18,300 donations and raised $1,460,360 – in the days after the tragedy to help support the children’s families.
However, the donations encountered legal hurdles, with release of the funds delayed by complex issues managed by the state government and legal representatives of the fund’s initiator.
Premier Peter Gutwein on Saturday said the issues had been resolved and the cash could now be released.
“I am pleased to confirm the outstanding legal issues surrounding the release of funds raised by Ms Smith’s GoFundMe campaign have today been resolved,” he said in a statement.
“Ms Smith’s legal representatives will shortly begin making contact with the families impacted by the Hillcrest tragedy to commence the funds distribution process.”
He described the fundraising as “nothing less than extraordinary”.
Funds for the families will grow further following a AFL pre-season fundraiser between Richmond and Hawthorn at Devonport Oval on Saturday.
Players’ guernseys from the match, which attracted a sold-out crowd of 8412, are among items being auctioned.
Declean Brown, who was injured in the tragedy, was involved in a pre-game ball presentation ceremony.
Hobart-born Jack Riewoldt kicked the first goal of the match for Richmond and went on to boot three for the day.
“We spoke about it during the week, how important it was to the community in Devonport,” Richmond assistant coach Adam Kingsley said.
Both sides have run school clinics in recent days.
“The heart of our game is community. This community has come together to grieve and to hopefully heal a bit,” AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan told Fox Sports.
Zane Mellor, Jye Sheehan, Jalailah Jayne-Maree Jones, Peter Dodt, Addison Stewart and Chace Harrison died in the incident, which is being investigated by the coroner.
A flood of tributes left outside the school following the tragedy were collected by Devonport City Council for use in a permanent memorial.