The mortgage broking industry was one of the key financial donors to the Red Cross bushfire appeal, thanks to efforts of those contributing to the Mortgage and Finance Industry Bushfire Relief Fund and individually, it has been revealed.
In January of this year, several leading brokers launched a mortgage broker-backed fundraising campaign via the Red Cross to help support those in need during the bushfire emergencies.
While the fundraiser started off with an initial target of $100,000 – this quickly scaled up after many in the industry, including brokerages, associations, aggregators and lenders, committed sizeable contributions to help support those impacted by the devastating bushfire season.
To date, more than $523,000 has been raised through this fund via the Red Cross platform, and is one of the top financial donors to the entire appeal, according to the Red Cross’ six-month report on the appeal.
According to the update, while the “mortgage and finance industry collective” was one of the top financial donors to the appeal, so too were Aussie, Loan Market, Mortgage Choice and several lenders (including three of the major banks and lenders, such as ING, La Trobe Financial, Liberty Financial and Suncorp), who all committed separate donations.
What the funds are being used for
The entire Red Cross bushfire appeal has raised more than $227 million since July 2019, with over half of this ($133 million) having been spent/disbursed.
Nearly 50,000 Australians were supported through the fires by Red Cross teams during evacuations, in relief centres and in fire-affected towns, and the funds raised have so far helped provide grants to approximately 4,380 Australians.
These were reportedly used to help them cover the cost of immediate needs, whether that be for repairs, to cover out-of-pocket funeral or hospital costs, or re-establish a safe place to live.
Of the remaining funds, $56 million will be “distributed to people as they come forward”, $21 million will be for “emerging and unmet needs over the coming months” and $17 million is “powering long-term recovery programs in 47 local government areas”.
“There is a long road ahead. Many people are living in caravans while they wait for their land to be cleared and rebuilding to begin. The trauma they have endured will continue to manifest in the months and even years ahead,” an Australian Red Cross spokesperson said.
“Because of you, we can walk with bushfire-affected communities on this journey. Our recovery officers live locally, getting to know everyone who is affected and checking in on them. They act as a bridge between the community and government and service providers: organising recovery events, training community services and community leaders in disaster recovery, and advocating for those most vulnerable.
“The Black Summer response has been an incredibly complex operation, requiring us to set up a dedicated grant payments team to get several millions of dollars out each day, provide additional case work for people with complex needs, and ensure our systems were robust enough to prevent fraud and protect data.
“Our recovery work will continue, and alongside this, we are investing in preparedness. We are working with communities to raise awareness, start conversations and share simple, practical tools and resources to ensure all Australians are as prepared as they can be.”
“Thank you again for your generosity towards those most impacted by the Black Summer,” the spokesperson added.
'Proud to be part of such an amazing industry'
Speaking to The Adviser about the appeal's impact, Jeremy Fisher, broker and managing director of 1st Street Financial, commented: "Although 1st Street spearheaded the campaign to raise funds, it was a collaborative effort of the mortgage broking industry who banded together and gave to those in need. From the major donors down to the smallest of donations, it was amazing to stand back and watch the support come in.
"The MFAA and FBAA plus various aggregators were instrumental with promoting the appeal via their members so a big call out must go to them.
"It's times like this I reflect and am proud to be part of such an amazing industry!," Mr Fisher said.
The Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia's head of marketing and communications, Stephen Hale, also welcomed the industry's contribution, telling The Adviser: “It was great to see our industry respond to the initial fundraising efforts of Jeremy Fisher of 1st Street Financial and go on to donate over half a million dollars through the Mortgage and Finance Industry Bushfire Relief Fund to help those impacted by the Black Summer disaster.
“This result was only possible thanks to the generosity of the brokers, aggregators, lenders and associations who came together as an industry to support those suffering hardship as a result of this terrible tragedy.
“This further adds to the value that the finance broker industry delivers to the Australian community.”