These past two months have been filled with secular news media dealing with a multitude of stories associated with secular aid charities and their distribution of aid monies or lack thereof.
Warnings went out from Government regarding fake sites raising monies for bushfire victims. Then there were heartbreaking stories of those who had lost their homes and the local politics or ineptitude or misunderstanding rules prevented those same people getting any assistance at all.
Television stories by the multitude aired these dramatic events and still getting anything done was near impossible. Then some secular charities had so much money donated for distribution, no one it seemed quite knew where to start.
Then there was the Red Cross, and not for the first time, came under fire for wanting to hold onto money donated specifically for bush fire victims. Then monies ended up in the pockets of local councils while those residents lives shattered were left with next to nothing or nothing at all.
This it seems to me should be the focus of any Royal Commission. Where the money went. Every last cent. Not where it was initially distributed but what happened to it when it reached – such as local Councils and distribution centres.
Was it like the Sports Grants, went to people known to the person who signed off on these donated monies or genuine needs. Treading on toes will be an Olympic sport no doubt.
Then there was the Celeste Barber’s $52m raised and no one knows what to do with it – a legal case.
NSW Baptist Churches of NSW / ACT had an official bush fire appeal and a video from the CEO Rev Steve Bartlett explaining the process and where money would be sent put $20,000 in from head office.
Similarly all the major church denominations.
They know what is happening on the ground. The local churches around each State know the locals and who is hurting, where the need is, what has been hit hardest, the schools and hospitals are involved along with the localised service clubs. Not some white collar shirt stuffy nosed ivory tower pen pusher.
Advantages of local
Local people know who are the most efficient movers and shakers
Local people know where the pitfalls are
Local people are aware of who are fair dinkum
Local people are aware of who really needs help
Local people focus on the critical
Local people focus on placing resources to real needs
Local people report on realities
Local people report on scams or look-alikes
Churches have a nose
The churches have people in abundance at the local level who have a nose – they can smell a bad apple a mile off, they can smell when something is going down, they can smell a dodgy incentive, they can smell a scam ….
As we have seen from the news casts there have been so many of these that what was lacking on the ground were people who recognised the drama for what it was.
I wonder whether any of these common sense recommendations will get the light of day.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 25 books, and enjoys writing. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded ‘The Gutenberg’ - the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. He and David Chang editor of Christian Today together bought the young writer ministry into fruition in 2009. In 2011 Mark established Laguna Quays Respite (Whitsundays) for missionary respite and replicated at Aldinga Beach 2016 (Adelaide) and Greens Beach Bass Straight (TAS). His ministry is honoured all these years by Christian philanthropist Mr Basil Sellers AM. He is married to Delma (44 years), with four adult married children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html