‘A show of good faith’: Commercial networks unite for Red Cross Flood Appeal concert


Australia’s top musicians are to take centre stage for what is expected to be the country’s biggest fundraiser event of the year, as the damages bill from the east coast’s devastating floods rises steadily towards $2 billion.

In a rare show of solidarity, the three commercial networks – Seven, Nine and Ten – announced on March 9 they will unite and broadcast the star-studded telethon event to help the most vulnerable people and communities who have suffered from the floods across Queensland and New South Wales.

The show kicks off on Saturday, March 12 at 7.30pm AEDT

According to the latest Insurance Council of Australia figures, $1.77b in claims have been lodged from 118,000 people. This figure doesn’t include the uninsured and the economic costs to the regions.

Called Australia Unites: Red Cross Flood Appeal, the biggest names in music including Tones And I, Jimmy Barnes, Delta Goodrem, Jon Stevens, Vanessa Amorosi, Hunters and Collectors, The Living End, Casey Donovan and Sheppard will all perform live on Saturday.

TV Blackbox‘s Steve Molk says the flood appeal is “a show of good faith from all the commercial networks to work together, and is likely to get the best result as people see them working together for a good, common cause.”

Mr Molk said it was “guaranteed” the networks “will each want to promote their channel”, and afterwards compare which network garnered the biggest viewing audience.

“I think largely, though, it’s a Saturday night and the real issue is making as much money as possible.

Hosts for the flood appeal will be the usual big names, including Seven’s Sunrise‘s Natalie Barr and David Koch, Sonia Kruger and Mark Ferguson, Nine’s Scott Cam (The Block), Sylvia Jeffreys (Today Extra), Andy Lee (The Hundred) and Peter Overton.

Ten’s Carrie Bickmore (The Project), Dr Chris Brown (I’m a Celebrity), and radio and TV hosts Amanda Keller and Osher Günsberg are confirmed as part of the hosting line-up.

Australian Red Cross CEO Kym Pfitzner told The New Daily on Thursday the Red Cross was “delighted to join with the major TV networks to raise money for flood-affected areas”.

“We have all seen the enormity of the flood damage across large parts of New South Wales and Queensland, and these communities now face a long and tough road to recovery,” Mr Pfitzner said.

“Everyone coming together will help Australian Red Cross provide financial assistance to people and communities who need it the most.

“We can only give out what we raise, so we ask everyone to dig deep and really come together to support the people who have lost so much,”

The Red Cross confirmed “that all funds raised during the telethon will go to people affected by the floods as direct financial assistance”.

Huge crowds gathered on the Sydney Opera House steps for the 2005 concert and show. Photo: Youtube

Not the first time

Mr Molk says the last time there was a show of unity on such a grand scale between the highly competitive networks was 17 years ago after the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004.

For the first time ever, all three networks combined for Australia Unites: Reach Out to Asia, a history-making telethon that was held on January 8 in 2005, raising a reported $20 million for aid organisation World Vision.

The telethon was at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium, now known as Marvel Stadium, with an open-air concert held outside the Sydney Opera House that featured performances by Jet, Spiderbait, Missy Higgins, Killing Heidi, Kasey Chambers, Noiseworks, The Dissociatives, Guy Sebastian and Alex Lloyd.

Hosts from the different networks including Nine’s Eddie McGuire and Ten’s Rove McManus anchored the broadcast in the studio as they crossed to key reporters at various locations around the country and overseas.

Nine’s veteran 60 Minutes reporter Ray Martin had been on the ground in Aceh, Sumatra, outside a public hospital, since the tsunami hit and showed first-hand the devastation.

The network’s Today Extra host and entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins was backstage live from the Sydney Opera House, while Ten’s comedian Peter Hellier walked the Green Room talking to celebrities who were primed to work the phones to bring in the big bucks.

Seven’s Kochie, Larry Emdur and Mel Doyle did an outside broadcast from the Opera House and together put their competitive strengths to good use.

Sound Relief – Black Saturday 2009

Among the most moving performances from the Sound Relief event on March 14, 2009 was rock band Hunters and Collectors, singing their signature hit and unofficial national anthem Throw Your Arms Around Me.

There wasn’t a dry eye among the 82,000-strong audience in the MCG  that night, and no doubt the Hunters will revisit that classic on Saturday night when they again answer the call to help grief-stricken communities.

Wolfmother, Split Enz, Paul Kelly, Kylie Minogue and Midnight Oil also joined the chorus that year.

The Sound Relief stadium concerts in Melbourne and Sydney’s SCG raised more than $8 million for the victims’ families and survivors of Black Saturday and the Queensland floods.

Organised by the late Michael Gudinski, he remarked at the time: “There is little doubt in my mind that Sound Relief will long remain one of the most significant events in Australia’s rich music history.”

Proceeds from a four-DVD compilation went to fund Red Cross Disaster Preparedness projects, which develop programs and resources to better prepare communities for disasters.

Alice Cooper at ANZ Stadium in Sydney Olympic Park for the Fire Fight Australia relief concert on February 15. Photo: AAP

Hosted by comedian Celeste Barber (who alone raised $51 million through her Instagram), the Artists Unite for Fire Fight Australia: Concert for National Bushfire Relief in 2020 was only broadcast by 7 and Foxtel, but attracted a huge line-up including Alice Cooper, 5 Seconds of Summer and Amy Shark.

Organised in five weeks, bringing together 23 artists and bands and reaching an audience of one million people, promoter TEG Dainty confirmed more than $11m was raised.

Funds were distributed to rescue and relief organisations, for recovery, rehabilitation and rebuilding.

“The money you have raised is helping rural and regional Australian communities that are still on the long road to recovery from the devastating bushfire season of 2019/20,”  TEG chief executive officer Geoff Jones said at the time.

“As we face another huge challenge for our country with the coronavirus, it is a great reminder of the Australian spirit that always shines through when we face tough times together.”

The three networks will jointly present Australia Unites: Red Cross Flood Appeal, live on Saturday March 12 at 7.30pm, AEDT.

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