Typhoon fundraiser faces official scrutiny

PROBING QUESTIONS: There may be an investigation into the activities of a Bundaberg women’s group which raised money for typhoon victims in the Philippines.
PROBING QUESTIONS: There may be an investigation into the activities of a Bundaberg women’s group which raised money for typhoon victims in the Philippines. Bullit Marquez

THE Office of Fair Trading is considering acting on a complaint made against the Bundaberg International Women's Society after it held a fundraiser without being a registered organisation or applying for a special sanction.

The women's group came under fire last month after complaints were made about how a group of four women distributed $17,000 in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

They were accused by former group members of "squandering" an opportunity to make a real difference, by buying things like ceiling fans for churches, vitamins to give to chickens and a surround sound system for another church.

To raise the bulk of the money, the Bundaberg International Women's Society held a fundraiser at the Moncrieff Theatre in February, however it has since been revealed the group was not authorised to legally hold the fundraiser.

"The Office of Fair Trading has received one complaint relating to the Bundaberg International Women's Society holding a fundraising event without being a registered organisation," an OFT spokesman said.

"To fundraise in Queensland, an organisation must have the approval of the Office of Fair Trading or be acting on behalf of an existing registered charity. Fundraising without official approval can attract a warning, fine or maximum three months' imprisonment."

The spokesman said the office was in the "early stages" of the process.

"It should be noted that in many cases an organisation is well meaning and simply acts without understanding their legal requirements," he said.

"In such cases the OFT will generally issue a warning and simply guide the association towards becoming registered or operating under a sanction."

He said the individual circumstances of the case were considered in determining the appropriate action.

Topics:  office of fair trading

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