The Mayor of Devonport has reassured the community that “100 per cent” of the more than $1.4 million donated to families of the Hillcrest jumping castle tragedy will be delivered to the intended recipients, following community concern over delays in the money’s delivery.
- More than $1.4 million was raised for victims’ families on GoFundMe and those donations have gone into another public fund for the victims
- Devonport’s Mayor wants to clear up any misconceptions and says the council is not deliberately sitting on the money
- There are “very complex legal issues” being worked on before the funds can be released, the council says
In December, six children from grades 5 and 6 at Hillcrest Primary School were killed when the jumping castle and inflatable Zorb balls they were playing in were blown into the air by a gust of wind.
Three other students were injured but survived after spending several days in hospital.
Devonport resident Zoe Smith created a crowdfunding campaign on December 15 for the nine families of the children.
The fund has since closed but attracted $1,460,360 via more than 18,000 donations.
Ms Smith wrote on December 18 that she was choosing to support the public fund set up by MyState, to ensure transparency and safekeeping of the funds.
On February 24, the Devonport City Council issued a statement and fact sheet to clarify “any misunderstanding” over delays in the release of the funds from both the crowdfunding campaign and the government’s Hillcrest Community Public Fund.
“The release of the GoFundMe money has taken much longer than anticipated and is being delayed by some very complex legal issues which are being managed by the state government and legal representatives of the fund’s initiator, to ensure all the money is distributed fairly to the families impacted,” it said.
Devonport Mayor Annette Rockliff said the council had no control over when the crowdfunding money would be released, but that “100 per cent” of the donations would go to the nine affected families.
Council not sitting on funds to ‘get the interest’
She also reiterated that funds donated directly to the Hillcrest Community Public Fund will be used to support the Hillcrest community and those directly impacted by the tragedy.
“The Hillcrest Community Public Fund Distribution Committee will decide how these funds are distributed fairly and equitably and where they are needed to best support the community,” Cr Rockliff said.
She is one of five people on the committee that will oversee the release of the government funds.
“Council is not getting anything out of it. There’s even sort of talk that we’re keeping it so we can get the interest and there’s no interest accumulating. Certainly not for council.”
In a statement, GoFundMe said its goal as a website was to make sure “every dollar donated on GoFundMe reaches the right place”.
“We require that fundraisers be transparent about the flow of funds and have a clear plan for how those funds will be spent that honours the original intent of the fundraiser,” the spokesperson said.
“In the case of the GoFundMe page for Hillcrest Primary School, all donations will go directly to supporting the families impacted by the tragedy.
“We are working closely with the fundraiser organisers and funds are being held safely until we receive final documentation about how they will be distributed.
“We appreciate that this has taken a little longer than donors may have hoped. Given the circumstances of this tragedy, the distribution plan has had to be carefully managed, which can take some time.”