Australia — It has been revealed Tasmania’s official bushfire appeal was set up for the recovery effort and not emergency relief.
The Bushfire Appeal Distribution Committee is overseeing millions of dollars in donations.
Three weeks after the fires, it has just released funds.
While government has provided some emergency assistance, hundreds of victims have had to turn to other charities to get help with their immediate needs.
Just after the fires, charities were overwhelmed with donations of goods.
Sorrel Mayor Kerry Vincent says in some cases they ran out of storage places.
“We can’t handle the amount of clothing that’s been brought to us,” he said.
The Government backed the Red Cross as the official Bushfire Appeal fund and people have given almost $5 million in donations.
The distribution committee’s Patricia Leary says the donations were never intended for bushfire victims who needed emergency relief.
“It is not immediate assistance because we know that there are government agencies that do that, this fund was set up for recovery and that’s why we’re handing it out the way we are to start with,” she said.
The committee has just released amounts of up to $10,000 for each family who has lost a home.
“Of course we would have liked it to have been available the day after the fund started but reality is that it just can’t happen,” she said.
“There are governance requirements that we have to deal with and we also have to be satisfied that the donors see that its going to the people they intended it to.”
The position has left other charities to fill the emergency gap.
The Salvation Army has distributed $120,000 dollars to help more than 200 families and it has also provided 19,000 meals.
St Vincent de Paul is distributing around $300,000.
Businesses are waiting to find out about options for assistance.
Luke Martin from the Tourism Industry Council says tourism operators in affected areas have lost bookings.
“There is a valid argument for a lot of them to get some support just enough to sort of tide them over the January period and hopefully allow them to get back on their feet,” he said.
That money is not allowed to come from the official Red Cross bushfire appeal, so it will be up to the state or federal government to stump up the cash.