Sunday Herald Sun - - Opinion -

IF char­ity be­gins at home, it seems there are some aid or­gan­i­sa­tions in this coun­try that may need to get their houses in or­der. Se­ri­ous ques­tions have been raised about not just the fi­nan­cial dis­tri­bu­tion mod­els of some non­profit groups but also the ide­olo­gies of main­stream char­i­ties that have been hi­jacked by the an­i­mal wel­fare lobby.

Aus­tralians have a core spirit of gen­eros­ity when it comes to help­ing out, es­pe­cially in times of cri­sis.

In re­cent months, we’ve seen an out­pour­ing of sup­port for our drought-af­fected ru­ral cousins.

It’s very much a re­flec­tion of our pioneer­ing spirit, our val­ued sense of mate­ship. Most Aus­tralians are happy to put their hands into their pock­ets to sup­port any cause they deem wor­thy, from the lo­cal pub raf­fle to help a mate who has fallen on hard times to gen­er­ous, on­go­ing and size­able do­na­tions to bring joy to sick kids or pro­vide life­savers at lo­cal beaches.

Of course, there have been in­fa­mous cases of char­i­ties go­ing rogue, in­clud­ing Belle Gib­son, who feigned cancer to elicit funds for a bo­gus char­ity.

Un­for­tu­nately, in past weeks, main­stream char­i­ties have hit the head­lines for all the wrong rea­sons.

The Aus­tralian Char­i­ties and Not for Profit Com­mis­sion has con­firmed it is in­ves­ti­gat­ing sev­eral ru­ral char­i­ties that re­ceived tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in drought re­lief do­na­tions. The probe cen­tres on al­leged op­er­a­tional con­cerns.

Some of them have high-pro­file back­ers such as the Com­mon­wealth Bank, Qan­tas and Wool­worths among their of­fi­cial part­ners.

The ACNC has asked these char­i­ties and their sub­sidiaries about cer­tain practices.

Among the ACNC’s con­cerns in­clude the char­ity’s com­pli­ance, the man­age­ment of fundrais­ing and the man­age­ment of any con­flicts of in­ter­est in car­ry­ing out char­i­ta­ble ac­tiv­i­ties.

We’re talk­ing about a great deal of money. Aus­tralians have given gen­er­ously to help farm­ers, many of whom are in des­per­ate straits.

In a state­ment on its web­site, sev­eral of the high-pro­file char­i­ties have said they were fully com­ply­ing with the au­dits. One web­site has been seized by liq­uida­tors wind­ing up a cam­paign.

The wind­ing up or­der was made by the Supreme Court of Vic­to­ria’s Mel­bourne Com­mer­cial Court last Oc­to­ber. Let’s hope the ACNC finds noth­ing un­to­ward, be­cause clearly these guys do great work in as­sist­ing farm­ers.

How­ever, it would be soulde­stroy­ing for many farm­ers if it was es­tab­lished that aid did not get to the right peo­ple.

I’ve re­ceived cor­re­spon­dence from a western Queens­land farmer sug­gest­ing a nearby prop­erty had re­ceived a road train of 80 high qual­ity large rec­tan­gu­lar bales from Cun­na­mulla, a re­gion far worse af­fected by drought than where he is.

The farmer said it was ironic that hay was freighted such a dis­tance, out of a drought stricken re­gion, to one that is not nearly as badly af­fected. The sug­ges­tion was that the pri­ori­ti­sa­tion of aid was wrong.

On the bush tele­graph, there has been much chat­ter about drought re­lief dis­tri­bu­tion. Cyn­i­cal men of the land have been shak­ing their heads.

And while drought char­i­ties re­main un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Aus­tralians need to be wary of one of the coun­try’s most well re­spected an­i­mal wel­fare groups.

Or at least it was well re­spected un­til re­cent years.

The RSPCA ap­pears to have be­come a sub­sidiary, par­tic­u­larly in NSW, of the an­i­mal ac­tivism move­ment.

If the RSPCA had its way, it would close down the thor­ough­bred, har­ness and grey­hound in­dus­tries. Those in­dus­tries em­ploy tens of thou­sands of peo­ple, gen­er­ate hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in tax­a­tion rev­enue and con­trib­ute bil­lions to Aus­tralia’s econ­omy.

Yet the RSPCA wants to jump into bed with the Greens and close the in­dus­tries down.

When for­mer NSW premier Mike Baird closed grey­hounds in NSW, the RSPCA stood by his side at the an­nounce­ment.

By join­ing the Greens and em­brac­ing their poli­cies, the RSPCA is ef­fec­tively op­posed to an­i­mal hus­bandry on farms. Their poli­cies would send smaller coun­try towns to the wall.

The RSPCA, An­i­mals Aus­tralia and the ABC have teamed up to ex­pose an­i­mal hus­bandry practices on Aus­tralian farms in the belief that it will garner pub­lic sup­port to have them closed down.

They have also banded to­gether to close the grey­hound in­dus­try.

The mes­sage is ob­vi­ous. Do your home­work be­fore do­nat­ing to char­ity. Ask ques­tions. Make sure it goes di­rectly to help­ing farm­ers or sav­ing pup­pies. Read the fine print. PETER GLEE­SON IS A SUN­DAY HER­ALD SUN COLUM­NIST peter.glee­[email protected]


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