We’re hypocrites and Folau fundraising proves it
GIVEN the speed of donations that rushed in for Israel Folau's GoFundMe account, you'd be forgiven for thinking Australians are a charitable bunch.
But while we were prepared, in just a matter of days, to hand over more than $700,000 to fund a footballer's legal challenge to being sacked for breaching his contract, a missing Hervey Bay woman's family barely scraped together $700 of donations.
GoFundMe is normally reserved for working-class people struck down by sudden illness or tragedy.
Israel Folau did not fall into either one of those categories. He appears to be in good health. His lucrative career has given him ample access to his own capital.
But he was in for the 'fight of his life', according to the video he used to launch the ill-conceived fundraiser on Friday.
Still, people gave so readily that his fundraiser rocketed to the top of the site within hours of being launched.
By this morning, it was being shut down for breaching the site's terms and conditions.
"Our platform exists to help others," GoFundMe spokeswoman Nicola Britton said when the site announced it was shutting the fundraiser down.
"Australians have shown themselves to be among the most kind and generous people in the world.
"We look forward to helping more Australians fundraise for causes they care about."
A quick glance at local fundraisers on GoFundMe shows our kindness can be selective.
A plea to fund a private investigator to help find missing Hervey Bay woman Monique Clubb has raised $735 since being launched in January 2018. Nine people have donated to the campaign.
Monique hasn't been seen or heard from since June 22, 2013.
Saturday, day two of Folau's trending fundraiser, was the sixth anniversary of her disappearance. She remains on the Australian Federal Police Missing Persons list.
"Investigations into Monique's whereabouts have failed to locate her and there are significant fears for her welfare and safety," the AFP states.
The new mum was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma a few weeks after giving birth. The money raised on GoFundMe is being used to fund her travel to Brisbane for healthcare.
A generous 76 people have supported the family since April, but the campaign - a worthier one than a legal debate over the nuances of employment contracts in Australian sport - received only a fraction of the support that poured in for Folau.
It's clear the motivating belief behind donations to Folau's campaign was not kindness.
His campaign never belonged on a platform dominated by ill people, desperate families and community groups with the tightest of budgets.
Folau should be ashamed for occupying space that belonged to people in genuine need. The flood of money that came in for his overblown fight revealed us to be hypocrites.
Anyone donating money surely knew Folau never needed it. He is a skilled player with a public profile that would have helped him to secure a contract overseas, if not in any Australian code.
The donations were a cynical spend motivated by the fear that our 'free speech' was at risk.
It never was. We can continue to say what we like, and pay the consequences if we happen to be major public figures employed by an organisation that has pledged to be inclusive to all.