Animal Rescue Charities Lose Status
8 February 2016 at 8:10 pm
Two Australian animal organisations have lost their charity status following an investigation by the national charity watchdog.
Adelaide-based cat rescue organisation, Help Save the Furry Ones, and Melbourne-based horse rescue group, White Ridge Rescue Inc, both had their charity status revoked by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).
Help Save the Furry Ones’ loss of charitable status is backdated to 1 July 2013 while White Ridge Rescue’s is effective from 28 January this year.
Both organisations have now lost their right to Commonwealth charity tax concessions following the action by the ACNC.
ACNC Commissioner, Susan Pascoe AM, said the regulator’s approach to compliance activity was proportionate.
“We take a proportionate approach to compliance activity, starting with education and guidance,” Pascoe said.
“Revocation of registration is reserved for serious circumstances where a charity has failed to meet its obligations or has deliberately contravened the ACNC Act.”
Federal laws prohibit the ACNC from disclosing exactly why it has taken action against a charity.
In December last year Pro Bono Australia News reported that South Australian Liquor and Gambling Commissioner, Dini Soulio, had revoked Help Save the Furry Ones’ charity licence.
Soulio said the action was taken following allegations that the management behind the organisation had been using funds raised for gambling.
“Consumer and Business Services (CBS) received information alleging that some of the funds raised by the charity for the care of animals were being transferred to a company associated with online casinos,” Soulio said at the time.
“Our investigations also indicate that other accounts associated with the charity have not been audited, as is required under the Collection for Charitable Purposes Act.
“The allegations have been put to the licence holder, but she has failed to respond to any contact from CBS.”
Soulio explicitly warned South Australians not to donate to Help Save the Furry Ones and said they would no longer be able to solicit funds.
Recent posts on the organisation’s Facebook page reveal that it is still accepting donations from the public.
People wishing to adopt rescued cats are also being charged $165 by the organisation.
Help Save the Furry Ones’ management had pledged to fight the South Australian commissioner’s ruling by turning to the ACNC.
“It has come to our attention that Help Save the Furry Ones has been accused of ALLEGEDLY spending donated money that was raised for our shelter on gambling,” the organisation said.
“Please be assured that all of HSFO’s funds can be accounted for. Our charity licence was revoked three days ago so anyone donating regularly please stop your direct payments.
“All of our paperwork is being handed into the ACNC for investigation and will clear our name of these allegations.”
The organisation said at the time that more than 30 cats in its care needed to be rehomed.
White Ridge Rescue claimed to be saving abused and neglected horses.
Two online fundraising campaigns launched by the organisation asking for $8,500 had raised just $105.
The most recent campaign was launched in September last year, with White Ridge Rescue claiming that it would need to raise $3,000 or it would be forced to close its doors forever.
Since it was established in 2012 the ACNC has revoked the charity status of just 14 organisations following investigations.