Billionaire philanthropists John and Pauline Gandel have donated $1 million to the national bushfire response amid one of Australia’s worst fire seasons on record.
The Gandels, of Melbourne, said they wanted to ‘do their bit’ as they made their million-dollar donation through the family’s charitable arm, Gandel Philanthropy.
The funds would go to three main groups: volunteer firefighters, burnt communities and threatened wildlife, Gandel Philanthropy said on its website.
Shopping centre magnate John Gandel (right) with his wife Pauline (left) have donated $1 million to the national bushfire response saying they wanted to ‘do their bit’ to help
Nine people have died and more than 900 homes have been destroyed so far in the 2019 fire season as large areas of New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland have been incinerated.
More than 800 of the homes lost were in New South Wales.
John and Pauline Gandel said on their website that Australians were well-known for standing together in difficult times.
‘The needs in this crisis far outstrip our contribution, but regardless we felt that we had to do our bit, and support as many key organisations as we can, in the hope that we can help make at least some difference to the lives of our fellow Australians devastated by this emergency,’ John and Pauline Gandel said on their website.
Firefighters battle the Gospers Mountain fire northwest of Sydney on December 21. Nine people have died so far this fire season and more than 900 homes destroyed, most in NSW
Mr Gandel made his fortune by taking clothing retailer Sussan to a chain of more than 200 stores, then investing in shopping centres and property development. He and his wife Pauline urged all Australians to come together to help those affected by the bushfire crisis
‘We also hope that this contribution will encourage others to help out in any way they can.’
Shopping centre magnate and property developer John Gandel founded the Gandel Group and has an estimated net worth of $6.6 billion, the Financial Review said on its Rich List website.
Mr Gandel’s parents started the Sussan women’s clothing store which he helped grow to a chain of more than 200 retail outlets before selling his stake in 1985 to concentrate on real estate.
He is ranked 10th on the Financial Review rich list of Australia’s wealthiest people.
The Gandels said it was time for all Australians to come together to help those affected, and that every donation – big or small – makes a difference.
‘Now is the time to come together, to show our community spirit and to face this great challenge with compassion and empathy for those fighting the fires and those affected by fires,’ they said on their website.
‘While there was minimal loss of life to date, every single death is a tragedy and our thoughts are with the families of those who perished.
A firefighter battles the Gospers Mountain blaze along the Bells Line of Road. The Gandels praised the bravery of Australia’s firefighters and donated funds to help the volunteers
‘We commend the heroic and brave actions of our firefighters and wish them the best of luck in their ongoing efforts. We also hope that the people and communities affected by fires will have a speedy and full recovery, and we hope our wildlife organisations will be supported to successfully rehabilitate our precious flora and fauna.’
The Gandel’s donation to the volunteer firefighter groups will go to the NSW Rural Fire Service, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, South Australia’s Country Fire Service, and Victoria’s Country Fire Authority.
The community funds will be donated through the national bushfire appeals of The Australian Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the St Vincent de Paul Society.
The wildlife donations will go to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) and MKC/The Rescue Collective.
Other wealthy donors have also responded to the need created by the bushfire crisis.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook has said the tech giant would be donating an undisclosed amount.
Mr Gandel said all contributions can make a difference, no matter if it’s big or small, and urged others to join the effort to help those affected by the bushfires
Apple was last valued at $US1.29 trillion (AUD$1.85t), the Sydney Morning Herald reported, and has previously donated millions to the victims of other tragedies such as the magnitude 7.0 Sichuan earthquake in China.
The National Australia Bank (NAB) said on Friday that it would give $100,000 to South Australia’s fire-damaged communities.
The Australian Red Cross would receive $50,000, with the remaining $50,000 going to local charities for community recovery efforts.
NAB spokesman Mike Baird said the fires had damaged rural businesses such as horticulture, grazing properties and wineries.
Mr Baird said the bank will accept donations for the Australian Red Cross at branches across Australia and also on its internet banking platform from early next week.
Firefighting efforts in New South Wales are set to continue this weekend with severe fire danger forecast for the Southern Ranges as hot and windy conditions hit the state.
Temperatures hotter than 40C forecast are forecast for Sydney’s outer west on Monday and Tuesday.