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New Police Charges for Street Swags Charity Founder

30 January 2017 at 8:36 pm
Lina Caneva
Controversial founder of not-for-profit Street Swags and former Queensland Young Australian of the Year, Jean Madden is to face six new fraud charges.

Lina Caneva | 30 January 2017 at 8:36 pm


New Police Charges for Street Swags Charity Founder
30 January 2017 at 8:36 pm

Controversial founder of not-for-profit Street Swags and former Queensland Young Australian of the Year, Jean Madden is to face six new fraud charges.

North Brisbane detectives charged Madden on Monday with fraud offences following what they said was “a protracted investigation”.

It is alleged that between January 2015 and June 2016 Madden committed a number of fraud offences relating to her role as the former director of the award-winning charity.

37-year-old Madden, from Upper Brookfield, has been charged with six counts of fraud, one count of falsifying a record and one count of attempted fraud.

In July 2016, Madden was also charged by Queensland Police over an alleged attack on the organisation’s website and emails.

Madden was named Queensland’s Young Australian of the Year in 2010 for her work setting up the charity, which provides swags to homeless people.

She has been issued with a notice to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on 28 February.

In May 2016, Madden, who started Street Swags in 2005, resigned from her roles as managing director and director of the board, and the organisation voluntarily agreed to work with the charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) to continue its operations.

Street Swags entered into a voluntarily undertaking with the ACNC after its investigation found a lack of financial controls and conflict of interest policies.

The charity which provides lightweight and waterproof sleeping bags for the homeless, agreed to address these concerns.

Street Swags director Paul Daly said the board was pleased to work with the ACNC in meeting its governance requirements.

A voluntary undertaking is an agreement between the ACNC and a charity to implement a number of measures in order to comply with its obligations under the ACNC Act and Regulation.

“We have no concerns about it, in fact we welcome the ACNC’s involvement,” Daly told Pro Bono News at the time.

ACNC assistant commissioner David Locke said at the time that a voluntary undertaking was appropriate when a charity had fully cooperated with an ACNC investigation and had made obvious attempts to comply with their regulations.

“Where appropriate the ACNC works with charities to address concerns and to ensure charities understand and comply with their obligations,” Locke said.

“Street Swags has fully cooperated with our investigation. By entering this voluntary undertaking, Street Swags has made a commitment to increased accountability and transparency within the charity.”

According to the voluntary undertaking, Street Swags has until 24 February to implement both financial controls and procedures for managing conflicts of interest, as well as produce a 12-month strategy.

Daly said he was “extremely confident” that the charity could meet the ACNC’s requirements.

Madden is also facing possible civil action over the handling of the charity’s money. Street Swags is required to provide the ACNC with any related court decisions or findings relating to the matter. She has continued to state that she is innocent all the allegations and charges.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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