An Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) investigation into the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation that failed to find a cent missing may end up costing the organisation thousands.

BGF president Martin Walsh told Sydney Star Observer that having to suspend fundraising and community uncertainty during the review had left a mark.

“The OLGR review did have an impact,” Walsh said. “We have lost some regular donors, our last direct mail appeal ended up under budget because we were unable to conduct any follow-up activity after the review was announced and we had to defer a major fundraising event which usually raises a substantial amount for us.”

Walsh said he was pleased the OLGR found that BGF’s internal controls and records complied with legislative requirements and recommended best practice. He said BGF had been able to publish the additional disclosure statements the OLGR requested because it kept details of what it spent on direct services, recurrent costs of administration and aggregate gross income and aggregate direct expenditure incurred in fundraising appeals as required by law.

Walsh said BGF CEO Bev Lange had twice offered to meet with Andrew Brougham before he complained to the OLGR but neither offer had been taken up. The offer remains open.

Brougham told Sydney Star Observer he was pleased the investigation had resulted in BGF providing greater detail in its public accounts, but he did not rule out further complaints.

Asked if he was concerned his complaint could impact on BGF and its ability to assist people with HIV, Brougham, who has never been a BGF client or member, wrote, “BGF’s income was already down last year”, and that it was “impossible” for BGF to provide less assistance than it already did.

Brougham later acknowledged BGF’s ten-bed long-stay accommodation centre for people with HIV as a good it provided but said this did not count as it “exists already”, received Government grants, and residents did not stay there for free.

Asked if he’d considered starting a charity of his own to provide people with HIV with the services he believed BGF should supply, Brougham claimed to have set up a number of charitable organisations assisting people with HIV in the past and that “all remain in healthy operation”.

However, when pressed for details, Brougham refused to name the organisations or outline assistance they had provided to people with HIV, claiming it was irrelevant to ask about these.

Asked if he would meet with BGF to discuss the investigation, Brougham told SSO, “I see no purpose in meeting with BGF about anything”.

Despite the financial hit to the organisation BGF has not planned service cuts.

NOTE TO READERS:

Andrew Brougham has published on his website sections of email correspondence between himself and one of our journalists, claiming that these show he was misrepresented in the article above.

On his website he describes what he has posted as “the true (and only ever) interview I gave to the Star Observer”.

Unfortunately the truth is that Mr Brougham has left out questions, and answers he gave to us (IN RED BELOW), in what he has posted to his website – particularly questions and answers in relation to his claim to have set up charitable organisations assisting people with HIV that continue to operate.

SSO TO BROUGHAM

Hi Andrew,

I’m writing an article on the financial impact of your complaint to OLGR on BGF and wanted to give you right of reply.

Could you provide me with a statement to the following questions? Please try to be as brief and to the point in your answers as possible as that will save me from having to paraphrase.

-What is your occupation and professional background?

-Can you confirm that Andrew Brougham is your real name and not an alias?

-Are you content with the result of the OLGR investigation or do you intend to make further complaints about BGF

-Do you have any concerns that BGF will be damaged financially as a result of your campaigning and will be able to provide less assistance to HIV positive persons than it does currently?

-Do you believe BGF currently provides anything to HIV positive persons that is of any value?

-Have you ever been a client of BGF?

-There is a poll on the KOAIA website asking people to vote on whether people at BGF should be imprisoned- is that what you personally believe?

-Will you be meeting with BGF to discuss the results of the OLGR investigation?

-Have you considered setting up a charitable organisation of your own to assist HIV positive people if you feel they are poorly served by those that currently exist?

Thanks,

Andrew M. Potts

PS- if I could get a statement by Monday, that would be great.

BROUGHAM TO SSO

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for your questions, answers provided below – however, a ‘right of reply’ would seem a more appropriate term applied to whatever you prove to have said about me in your article – i.e. I do not know what I am ‘replying’ to at this premature stage. (Please bear in mind, also, that I am currently supporting a complaint to the Australian Press Council about your newspaper’s previous biased and inaccurate coverage of the BGF investigation, and shall not hesitate to extend that business to including any such future SSO article on the subject which may cause me similar objection).

Kind regards,

Andrew.

What is your occupation and professional background?

I am an archivist with a background in social welfare.

-Can you confirm that Andrew Brougham is your real name and not an alias?

Yes I can.

Are you content with the result of the OLGR investigation or do you intend to make further complaints about BGF

I am pleased the OLGR acknowledged BGF’s breach of conditions and forced the charity to adopt legally required levels of accountability, which the community paying for BGF has the right to. But there are further outstanding matters relating to compliance with the Charities and Fundraising Act 1991, which exists partly to prevent deception of members of the public who desire to support worthy causes. BGFs fundraising advertising is grossly misleading. Whether this will result in further formal complaints by myself to the OLGR (which is limited in what it can address) or to other, higher persons or entities of authority, depends entirely upon BGF’s show of willingness to amend its false advertising – I note that, in the few days after the OLGR report being released, BGF’s website was abruptly cleared of some of this deception, but there is more to be cleared until its fundraising rhetoric becomes appropriately honest.

Do you have any concerns that BGF will be damaged financially as a result of your campaigning?

BGF’s income was already down last year, as the community has long been wising up to donations seldom reaching clients but instead being absorbed by BGF’s mushrooming payroll and corporate costs. I hope more people will become aware that our most vulnerable and needy are being short changed and that donators are being deceived. (Rather than them stopping giving, I’d rather hope the community – both donors and clients – demanded the due improvements to these shortcomings). Otherwise, the payroll needs significantly downsizing and service levels need reverting to the original purpose: helping out PLWHIV living in poverty, rather than coercing sick people back into the workforce while keeping a handful of unqualified executives wealthy.

…and will be able to provide less assistance to HIV positive persons than it does currently?

It would be impossible to provide even less client financial assistance than is currently provided. BGF is not providing financial assistance to most of its 1450 clients living in poverty – the ongoing financial assistance it was set up to offer and still advertises as offering – e.g. bills – has been abolished, along with the Ratten Fund. Donations are not used toward the tiny handful of electricity bills BGF still contributes towards under its new ‘one-off emergency-only rule’– this is done with government-issued EPA vouchers and is of no expense to BGF.

-Do you believe BGF currently provides anything to HIV positive persons that is of any value?

A small elite handful of in-crowders, (AKA ‘BGF poster boys’) benefit enormously, from cosmetic body and facial sculpting costs to having trendy clothes and party tickets paid for….this inner-circle includes those working and volunteering at BGF who soak up resources as perks – at the expense of the majority of clients who get nothing at all. The workshops offered are useless to people medically certified too sick to work, which is most Disability Pensioners, a key BGF eligibility criteria for financial help  (90% of BGF’s clients live in poverty yet see no support from the charity). Interest Free Loans are useful but cost BGF nothing, reclaimed automatically via Centrelink, and are available via numerous charities. Luncheon Club costs are covered by government grants, shared with the wealthy ACON and further subsidised by food donations. BGF House exists already and is financially maintained by standard resident pension forfeiture and government grants.

-Have you ever been a client of BGF?

No, I became involved and concerned, my help being often needed when several of my partners and many friends had to battle through that awful experience. Clients are bullied, intimidated, disrespected and sent on unnecessary bureaucratic goose chases that they aren’t physically or mentally well enough for.

-There is a poll on the KOAIA website asking people to vote on whether people at BGF should be imprisoned- is that what you personally believe?

It doesn’t ask people to vote on that particular question, it offers them five choices. What the poll actually asks is: “Would you Donate to a charity receiving $2,521.612 and spending $1,453,312 on Employee Benefits, $1,334,966 on ‘Other Expenses’ but only $469.333 on clients? There are 5 multiple choice answers. 73.5% of over 600 votes have, to date, opted for the “throw them in jail for charity fraud’ answer, compared with 0.3% for “yes that sounds like good value” 1.49% for “I’d need more information”, 24% for “they should cut staff costs not client services” and 0.93% for “no, there should be an independent kitty for the clients”.

-Will you be meeting with BGF to discuss the results of the OLGR investigation?

I see no purpose in meeting with BGF about anything. They are on record as lying to the media about me and have cost me a lot of time and energy with their intransigence, game playing and time wasting.

-Have you considered setting up a charitable organisation of your own to assist HIV positive people if you feel they are poorly served by those that currently exist?

Yes, I have (I have done this in the past and all remain in healthy operation), but ultimately, rather seeing this as necessary this time, I chose to put my energies into raising community awareness about the ineffectiveness, corruption and abuse of this memory of a great man, operating unethically with our donations and pulling the wool over this community’s eyes.

ENDS

PS

Please also note that my OLGR complaint was not the only one and involved various different grievances to those made by other complainants.

SSO TO BROUGHAM

Hi Andrew,

Just a couple of supplementaries-

-what are the charitable organisations you have set up in the past to assist people with HIV and in what ways do they assist people with HIV?

-do you intend to make further complaints about BGF to the OLGR or other agencies or authorities?

BROUGHAM TO SSO

-what are the charitable organisations you have set up in the past to assist people with HIV and in what ways do they assist people with HIV?

It would seem more relevant, IMO, that you should be asking this question to those running BGF – all are under-qualified and under-experienced and have proven incapable of doing their jobs without running the company into annual deficit while disenfranchising clients – their raison d’etre. Decline to answer further, on grounds of inability to see the relevance of the question, bearing in mind that I am not considering setting one up in the foreseeable future, but instead aiming to see BGF revert to its intended purpose – to help out PLWHIV living in poverty.

-do you intend to make further complaints about BGF to the OLGR or other agencies or authorities?

There are further outstanding matters relating to compliance with the Charities and Fundraising Act 1991, which exists partly to prevent deception of members of the public who desire to support worthy causes. BGFs fundraising advertising is grossly misleading. Whether this will result in further formal complaints by myself to the OLGR (which is limited in what it can address) or to other, higher persons or entities of authority, depends entirely upon BGF’s show of willingness to amend its false advertising – I note that, in the few days after the OLGR report being released, BGF’s website was abruptly cleared of some of this deception, but there is more to be cleared until its fundraising rhetoric becomes appropriately honest.

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