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Numerous actors and musicians gathered at the Beverly Wilshire on Saturday night for the annual G’Day USA dinner, which this year was dedicated to raising money for the Australian Bushfire Relief Fund and Australian Wildlife Fund.
Among those who attended included actress and singer Tottie Goldsmith, who arrived with her aunt, Olivia Newton-John. She stressed the importance of social media and spreading awareness by showing the experiences of those who are affected by the fires.
“I can’t imagine the people that are losing houses and losing their businesses and people out in rural areas don’t tend to have insurance, so they’re losing their livelihoods,” Goldsmith said. “We’re all coming together to help rebuild communities and this awareness just must make them seen and that they’re not alone in this on top of helping them on a financial level.”
Big Little Lies producer Bruna Papandrea believes that the need for awareness is not going to stop anytime soon. She said the intense fires in Australia coincide with climate change.
“[Climate change] is the greatest issue of our times, and I think Barack Obama said it best. He said we’re the first generation to feel it and we’ll be the last who can do anything about it, and sadly I think Australia is the first place that we’ve really started to feel it on a grand scale — I hate to say this, but probably the first of many, unless we do something,” Papandrea said.
The event was hosted by actor Hugh Sheridan, who began the evening with a moment of silence for the firefighters who have lost their lives. Then two representatives of the U.S. Forest Service were introduced, who spoke about their firsthand experiences being on the ground surrounded by raging fires.
“My experience in Australia fighting those bushfires was intense. The scale of the bushfire situation was something I had never seen. There were some tough days and we were flying in dense smoke,” chief Josh Mathieson said. “I was impressed with the resiliency of the Australian firefighters and the citizens of that country, where they could get beat down by very difficult conditions on a daily basis and then get up the next day and try again.”
Guests were encouraged to either directly donate to either fund or participate in a silent auction. Among the prizes were a VIP experience to Hugh Jackman’s Broadway show The Music Man and a chance to attend the New York premiere of Nicole Kidman’s newest HBO series, The Undoing.
Delta Goodrem performed her song “Let It Rain,” which is dedicated to the tragedy as all proceeds from the song go to a bushfire relief fund. During her somber performance, images and videos of devastated land and rescued animals were projected on screens beside her.
The night was filled with uplifting performances, including that of Paulini, who sang as Dancing With the Stars’ Keo Motsepe and Sharna Burgess took the stage in a graceful dance number, while Colin Hay excited the crowd with his performance of the Men at Work hit song “Down Under.”
Towards the end of the event, Goldsmith, along with Newton-John, joined John Travolta to speak about their love for Australia and what this year’s gala in particular meant to them.
“I would like to thank Australians for the amazing life they’ve given me. If you think back to where I started with Saturday Night Fever, The Bee Gees, then Olivia in Grease. You’ve given me an incredible, beautiful life.” he continued, “The people of Australia have this incredible ability to take responsibility for each other … it really deeply moves me.”
5 Seconds of Summer concluded the night by performing their hit single “Youngblood” and their newest song they wrote about Australia, “Red Desert.”
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