Business council backs emergency volunteers
20 January 2020 at 5:35 pm
New $25 million trust will be permanent and ongoing
In the wake of the national bushfire crisis, the Business Council of Australia has launched a multi-million dollar trust to support the families of volunteers, as well as a program to create jobs for people that have lost their livelihoods.
Founded in partnership with Equity Trustees, the $25 million Australian Volunteer Support Trust will assist the families of any volunteer in Australia who has died through their volunteer work.
Tim Reed, Business Council of Australia (BCA) president, said the primary focus of the trust will be on supporting the children of volunteers who have died fighting this year’s bushfires, or in future disasters.
Overseen by an advisory panel chaired by Jeff Kennett AC, and supported by Jennifer Westacott AO, David Gonski AC, Dame Quentin Bryce and Lisa Paul AO PSM, the trust is aiming to initially raise $25 million via donations to respond quickly to the immediate needs of families.
Westacott, BCA CEO, said the business community was there for the long haul, with the trust to be managed on a pro bono basis in perpetuity.
“This has been a devastating, frightening and shocking time for Australia and our hearts go out to all of those who have lost so much” Westacott said.
“Like all Australians, the business community is capable of incredible things. We will work with governments to ensure we do everything we can to match resources with need and help in the recovery effort to rebuild people’s lives and communities.”
The council urged all of its members to support their volunteer staff with a minimum of 20 days paid leave. Companies including ANZ, Coles, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Qantas and Rio Tinto have already announced they are providing paid leave for emergency services volunteers.
“We ask others to follow their lead,” Reed said.
The BCA will also establish a five-year community rebuilding program that will work with the federal government’s $2 billion Bushfire Recovery Agency to create jobs for volunteers and victims who have lost work as a result of the disasters, and help with the reconstruction of communities and provide financial relief.
The initiative will be chaired by former governor-general, Sir Peter Cosgrove AK.
Details on how to make a donation to the trusts can be found here.