This article first appeared in The Australian newspaper on Monday 22 March 2021.
At the height of the black summer bushfires when much of Kangaroo Island was in flames, a handful of workers flew in with notepads and pencils in hand.
They weren’t firefighters, emergency services respondents or logistics experts, but a small group with access to a $70m fund established in the wake of the fires.
The Minderoo Foundation Fire Fund is an initiative of Andrew Forrest’s $2bn philanthropic organisation and “impact investor”, the Minderoo Foundation.
MF committed an initial $20m towards rebuilding communities ravaged by the fires and a further $50m to develop a blueprint for wildlife and disaster resilience.
Mr Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group also donated to the fund, first with $1.76m in funding and later supplying specialist employees to help deliver the rollout.
In a town-hall meeting on the evening the planning squad arrived, the idea for a temporary housing pod was sketched in a notepad. Within a month, Australian Portable Camps in Monarto, South Australia, had begun production.
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