Monday, October 24, 2011

Millions in donations blown on administration costs

I always give direct to the intended beneficiary -- JR

A NEW MySchool-like website is set to expose charities spending upwards of 60 per cent of the donations they receive on million-dollar campaigns, telemarketers and black-tie balls.

The move to make Australia's 60,000 charities more accountable could prompt big-spending not-for-profits to rein in their administration.

The Courier-Mail today reveals how the sector uses donations collected from 4.6 million Australians each year.

Surf Life Saving Foundation Incorporated was the biggest spender - using 62 per cent of its $23.8 million gross fundraising revenue on administration costs.

Seven prominent Australian charities spent more than 40 per cent of donations on the "cost of fundraising".

But in the competitive world of fundraising, charities have warned "league table" comparisons based on cost ratios - how much they spend chasing the donor dollar - would be unfair and detrimental.

The Gillard Government has already committed $53.6 million over the next four years to set up a new independent regulator called the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC).

One of the charity watchdog's first tasks will be to implement a "one-stop shop" information portal that will force charities and benevolent trusts to disclose financial records like never before.

Currently, there is no Australian reporting standard and it is up to individual charities to determine how fundraising and other costs are disclosed, which has led to huge differences in accounting practices


Whingeing woman loses out

A GOLD Coast female hotel employee who accused a male boss of sexually harassing her by allegedly commenting on her "huge knockers" has had her workplace discrimination complaint dismissed.

The Queensland Civil Administration Tribunal, in a just published decision, dismissed a complaint for sexual harassment and discrimination on the "attribute of sex in the area of work" by Aimee Harron because she failed to attend a compulsory conference aimed at resolving the issue last month.

Ms Harron lodged a complaint to the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission for alleged contravention of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 by former employer Pearls Australasia Mirage 2 Pty Ltd and supervisor Andrew Potts.

QCAT member Michelle Howard, in an eight-page decision, said Ms Harron alleged Mr Potts made comments to another worker that she had "huge knockers" after she was been interviewed for a possible job. "(Ms Harron claims she) had overheard Mr Potts tell other employees ... he had never employed an unattractive girl," Ms Howard said.

"Mr Potts had (also allegedly) spoken to her (Ms Harron) about her brother in unflattering terms, saying that he was a 'dickhead', and also said that he was going to steal her brother's girlfriend."

Ms Harron claimed she had referred the matter to her employer's Human Resources Department. "(Ms Harron) infers that she requested not to be further supervised by Mr Potts, but was not given an alternative," Ms Howard said.

"She states that she resigned to avoid further 'being vilified' by Mr Potts, who had already caused her hurt and humiliation ... (and) she believes ... that Mr Potts' remarks have sexual connotations which amount to sexual harassment."

Ms Howard said the "respondents", that is Pearls Australasia and Mr Potts, contend Ms Harron commenced "casual employment" on May 11 last year and made a complaint less than two months later about a "remark alleged to have been made by Mr Potts after interviewing her for the position".

The company asserted, via staff notes kept regarding Ms Harron's work attendance and attitude, that Ms Harron complained about the new job during her very first shift. "On her first shift on 11 May, she (Ms Harron) said she did not like the work and most likely would not return," Ms Howard said the file note stated.

"On May 15, Ms Harron told co-workers she does not want to work and is going to leave. On May 17, she arrived late for work ... and on May 22, she attended work but went home sick after 2 hours."

Ms Howard said Pearls Australasia claimed it did investigate Ms Harron's complaint and found one staff member who said there had been some comment Ms Harron "had pretty good breasts."

Mr Potts, the tribunal was told, said he had not intended to hurt or offend anyone, and the comment was a "one-off" made before Ms Harron was employed. Mr Potts also denied making comments about having "never employed an unattractive girl or making reference to Ms Harron's brother of his girlfriend".

"The investigation did not establish whether the comments were or were not made, but Pearls Australasia argues that even if they were this would not constitute sexual harassment," Ms Howard said.

The matter was set down for a "compulsory conference", between the parties at Southport on September 21. "Ms Harron failed to attend the compulsory conference," Ms Howard said. "(As such) the complaint of Aimee Harron is dismissed."


Priority patients left waiting for help as ambulance shortage hits Victoria

TWELVE priority one patients were left waiting for an ambulance last night as Victoria's ambulance system struggled under the weight of more than a call a minute. Ambulance Victoria CEO Greg Cassella said 47 cases were left pending in metropolitan Melbourne on Sunday night and 58 on Saturday night.

"In that period of six hours (between 6pm and midnight on Sunday), we were having to respond to more than a call a minute, it's extraordinary," he said.

Mr Cassella said the emergency dispatch centre kept in constant contact with those waiting for an ambulance and no one had died or suffered further as a result of the long wait. But he admitted the thought of the elderly and the injured waiting for help bothered him. "The fact they were left waiting is a concern but there's no evidence that they were in a life-threatening situation," he said.

Priority one patients are "lights and sirens" patients who are in a potentially life-threatening condition.

Ambulance union state secretary Steve McGhie said paramedics were told to offload their patients and get back on the road. "The paramedics would have made those patients as comfortable as they could but that's what they were told," he said.

Mr McGhie said a number of factors made for a severely stretched ambulance service last night. "It will be a combination of things, there will be some absenteeism and sick leave and Workcover and there will be ramping up at hospitals where paramedics are waiting in line to offload their patients," he said.

"The third factor will be that ambulance crews have worked so long that they have to have a meal break so they are putting on a priority zero waiting which means they can only be sent to life-threatening emergencies. "But this has been going on for a long, long time, the pattern is so consistent on weekends now."

The AEA reports an annual six per cent rise in call-outs over the past decade. "There's no way that we have a six per cent increase in staff numbers, (Ambulance Victoria) is a long way from achieving it," Mr McGhie said.


Occupy Melbourne protesters known to police

SOME of those involved in Friday's Occupy Melbourne demonstration were regular protesters known to police. Acting Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said this morning some of the protesters were from BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), which campaigns against Israel. Others were from the Socialist Alliance - an anti-capitalist political party. "Many of these people in the group on Friday and the week leading up are pretty familiar faces to us," Mr Lay told 3AW.

He said a small group of the protesters were intent on fighting police, despite assuring police they would leave peacefully when asked. "I sensed a group of people that were hell bent on having a blue with the coppers and that's exactly what happened, we know that there was a group of people that simply wanted this for their own reasons."

Protesters were given assurance on the Thursday night police would not surprise them early Friday morning with demands to leave and on Friday they were given four warnings to leave from council and police.

Mr Lay said he was proud of the way police acted and they had an abundance of video to support police tactics and refute claims made by the protesters of brutality. "I was very proud of the way our 400 people worked, it was extremely difficult, it was a very long day for them and what I saw was a very well trained, very well disciplined group of people that did exactly what they were trained to do."

Victoria Police will today start examining CCTV footage of Friday's Occupy Melbourne protest for evidence of criminal offences committed by protesters.

Eight police cars were damaged as the crowd was evicted from City Square, and a police spokesman said CCTV footage would be reviewed to find the culprits.

Occupy Melbourne organisers have arranged to occupy Treasury Gardens on Saturday, claiming they have approval from Aboriginal elders of the Wurundjeri people to occupy the space.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said yesterday a team of council compliance officers would prowl the city's streets this week, poised to report any Occupy Melbourne protesters setting up camp. Cr Doyle said the protesters wouldn't have a chance to build an established campsite because compliance officers would catch them as they tried to set up. "We'll certainly task our compliance officers to make sure that we know when they try to set up anywhere. We'll issue them notice immediately that they can't do it and have the tents taken down," he said. "We don't intend to allow people to set up tents anywhere in the city. We have adopted a zero-tolerance policy."

On Friday, police evicted about 100 protesters from City Square, dragging many away writhing and kicking, and set up cyclone fences around the site.

Yesterday Premier Ted Baillieu backed Victoria Police in its use of force, saying protesters had broken their promise. "They said they would move and they didn't, and I think Victoria Police handled the situation well," Mr Baillieu said.


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