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Celeste Barber's bushfire appeal raised $51 million. It cannot be given to other charities. 

The NSW Rural Fire Service can’t pay any of the $51 million donated during comedian Celeste Barber’s bushfire appeal to other charities or rural fire services, a judge has ruled.

The advice applies to all other organisations – whether in NSW or elsewhere in Australia – which provide relief to people or animals affected by the bushfires, Justice Michael Slattery said on Monday.

But the money can be spent to support rural firefighters injured while fighting blazes or the families of firies who died, the judge said.

It can also be used to provide physical and mental health support and on courses to improve skills related to volunteer-based fire and emergency service activities.

Barber in January prompted an outpouring of goodwill and donations from across the world when she launched the “Please help anyway you can. This is terrifying” appeal on Facebook.

She nominated the NSW RFS as the beneficiary of the campaign and set a funding target of $30,000.

But Barber – who boasts 7.1 million followers on Instagram – raised $51.3 million which is the largest charity drive in Facebook’s history.

The NSW Rural Fire Service and Brigades Donations Fund went to the NSW Supreme Court seeking clarity on the use of the money according to its April 2012 trust deed.

Justice Slattery answered their four questions and ordered the parties’ legal costs to be paid out of the RFS Fund.

Feature Image: Getty.


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