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Red Cross welcomes appointment of Independent Advisory Panel and process for distribution of appeal funds

Thursday February 12, 2009

Red Cross warmly welcomes the announcement by the Victorian Premier Mr Brumby of the appointment of The Hon John Landy AC to chair the panel that will oversee the urgent preparation of criteria for distribution of 2009 Victorian Bushfires Appeal funds to people affected by this week's devastating fires in Victoria.

The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Appeal Fund was established last Sunday as a partnership between Red Cross and the Victorian and Australian Governments.

The CEO of Red Cross, Robert Tickner said Mr Landy would provide outstanding leadership to the independent panel of community leaders which is composed of highly respected and capable Victorians. Red Cross will also have representation on the Panel.

'The Government clearly understands the urgency of the situation and the need to get the money to people who so desperately need a helping hand', Mr Tickner said.

'As the country's worst ever natural disaster unfolded, Red Cross was on the ground offering emergency relief. At the same time we established the Victorian Bushfire Appeal in partnership with government and we have been inspired by the overwhelming outpouring of community concern and the unprecedented scale of the response', he said.

'In less than four days, more than $50 million has been given by the Australian public. Government contributions and a huge number of additional corporate donations will swell that figure even higher.'

Red Cross will not deduct any funds whatsoever from the Appeal for administration costs with all funds going to people and communities affected by the fires. Every cent received by Red Cross is being transferred on a daily basis to a Trust Account set up by the Victorian Government for distribution.

Now is the time to move forward in line with the processes announced by the Premier on Sunday

Once the Independent Advisory Panel has recommended criteria for the distribution of the Appeal funds, the Victorian Government will then distribute the funds through the Department of Human Services.

As announced by the Premier, the funds will be used to provide assistance to individuals and communities in towns and suburbs affected by the fires.

'Although hundreds of thousands of people have already dug deep to help their fellow Australians, and a vast amount of money has been raised already, the need will be enormous and the appeal will continue until Red Cross and the governments agree to close it', said Mr Tickner.

'You don't need to be at the front line to be able to help -- as we say in Red Cross, it's times like this we need to mobilise the power of humanity to help those affected by the fires -- and people across Australia can do their bit by donating to the appeal on or on 1800 811 700. We have seen an unprecedented demand with thousands of people trying to get through, but please be patient and keep trying.' he said.