Women's group slammed for how foreign aid cash was spent

FOREIGN AID: Members of the International Women's Society Lucy Scorey, Loida Petersen, Thu Ngoc Nguyen and Norma Jensen in Manicani Island. Photo: contributed
FOREIGN AID: Members of the International Women's Society Lucy Scorey, Loida Petersen, Thu Ngoc Nguyen and Norma Jensen in Manicani Island. Photo: contributed contributed

A BUNDABERG women's organisation has been controversially divided over the way four members distributed thousands of dollars in foreign aid to the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

The Bundaberg International Women's Society raised $17,100 following a series of fundraising events after the 2013 disaster, including a concert at the Moncrieff Theatre in February.

As the group is not a registered organisation, a sub committee was formed to handle the funds for the sake of "transparency".

Audrey-May Thomson was elected treasurer of the sub committee that then asked the rest of the society for suggestions of where the money should go.

"I researched a little island called Victory Island," Mrs Thomson said.

"They have 100 fishing boats and 80 of them were lost (in the typhoon).

"They have families with 12 and 14 children and families lost almost half of their children."

The devastated city of Tacloban in the Philippines, Wednesday Dec. 4, 2013. The city was ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan last month, but rebuilding efforts are already underway. (AAP Image/Neda Vanovac) NO ARCHIVING
The devastated city of Tacloban in the Philippines, Wednesday Dec. 4, 2013. The city was ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan last month, but rebuilding efforts are already underway. (AAP Image/Neda Vanovac) NO ARCHIVING NEDA VANOVAC

Mrs Thomson said she had received calls from Queensland Fisheries, keen to donate to the cause, and an Australian-based aid organisation, Gawad Kalinga, had also guaranteed it could source and deliver fibreglass boats, at $700 each, to the devastated island.

Mrs Thomson said the majority of the women's society was excited and supportive of the idea.

But the day after Mrs Thomson left on a personal overseas holiday on March 6, International Women's Society President Norma Jensen dissolved the committee, citing the group had not been "working in harmony".

Mrs Jensen, and three other society members, announced they would instead be travelling to Manicani Island, where the women spent $3700 on 18 ceiling fans, a surround sound system and 28 bags of cement for a church; $6200 on a co-operative shell craft project for women and $500 on materials for soap making and a dishwasher liquid co-operative project.

"My biggest disappointment is we spent Bundaberg people's money on one of the wealthiest organisations in the world - the Catholic Church," Mrs Thomson said.

"A sound system for the church? Come on, what are they going to do, rock and roll?

"I did not raise money to feed someone's faith - I raised money to put food in children's bellies."

A further $3500 was spent on building materials for another church, a tricycle to take children to and from school, as well as almost $4000 to build a poultry house, which included 100 one-month old broiler chickens.

Mrs Thomson said she was further shocked after learning the women had purchased vitamins.

"I said, 'oh thank goodness, at long last we've bought something for the children'," she said.

"But we bought bloody vitamins for the chickens."

Mrs Thomson said there was absolutely no suggestion the women had misappropriated the funds, but that they had "squandered" a good opportunity.

"My disappointment is how we spent that $17,100 without discussions with the group," she said.

"The group didn't know how it was to be spent until the four people came back.

"What is the long-term projection for the things that we did?

"Where does the income go and how is it distributed equitably?"

Mrs Thomson then resigned from the society in "utter disgust and horror" and, since then, at least another six women had resigned.

"We felt if we picked a smaller place we could make a bigger impact instead of picking a big place and making a mediocre impact," she said.

But Mrs Jensen has defended the group's decision to travel to Manicani Island.

"The decision was left with the team going over there, to make the decision on the ground to provide what was needed at the time," she said.

Mrs Jensen also said there were "too many boats" in the Philippines.

However, correspondence from Gawad Kalingar to Mrs Thomson about the plight of Victory Island suggests otherwise.

"You were targeting a really needy area and they are desperate - they still need four more boats. They lost every single one of their coconut (trees)," a spokeswoman from Gawad Kalingar said in a text message to Mrs Thomson.

Topics:  philippines

Six hideaway bars to escape winter chill

THE last season of GoT finally uttered the words we’ve been waiting six seasons to hear and now that the weather has cooled down in Brisbane, “winter is here.”

Our six art gallery picks for a creative day out

Queensland's Gallery of Modern Art always has a fun, exciting and interesting exhibition on show for the whole family to enjoy.

YOU'D be mistaken in thinking Brisbane wasn't an arty city.

Brisbane's arts and culture events centre stage

You loved the film, now you're about to love the musical. Don't miss The Bodyguard The Musical in Brisbane this July.

THE arts and culture events you don't want to miss.

Homewares stores to fulfil your Instagram dreams

No Caption

You too can become an Insta-star with these fab stores.

Date nights under $50

Nothing is more romantic than a picnic with a cracking view.

NOT every date has to cost you a bomb.

Top 10 Brisbane experiences to cross off your bucket list

Do yourself a favour and get amongst the food truck scene. Eat Street is a great place to start.

A GOOD bucket list doesn’t have to span continents or cost millions.

Six mega sporting events you need to be at this year

Don't miss all the action trackside this season.

IF THERE is one thing Brisbane does damn well, it’s play host.

Profit put before safety in mines

BLACK LUNG: Former underground mine worker Jason Bing mined for 14 years before he was diagnosed with debilitating lung diseases.

AUTHORITIES are continuing to mismanage protection of coal workers

A chance to step up to New York stage

AMERICAN DREAM: Hip hop dancer Chelsea Lane.

Dancing from Bundaberg to New York

Pensioner in court over methadone tantrum at hospital

TEMPER TANTRUM: John Benedict Lee Lee became agitated and threw a tap at the Bundaberg Hospital pharmacy, where he'd gone to get a methadone dose.

'They were not dosing me properly, miss,' man tells magistrate

Local Partners

Wonder Woman is a kick-arse superhero romp

WITH so much at stake, thank Zeus that Wonder Woman didn’t fall into the same trap as its DC Extended Universe predecessors.

Everything coming to Netflix, Stan, Foxtel and Amazon Prime Video this June

Orange Is The New Black returns for another season.

Find out what's being added to our streaming services in June.

Sam Armytage and Tom Cruise? Saaaaay what?

Apparently, the answer is no.

Musical tribute to flood volunteers released

Songwriter honours flood volunteers who helped their neighbours.

Lismore songwriter Simon Thomas was moved by strangers' kindness

Karl Stefanovic's rant about Schapelle Corby 'a bit rich'

Karl Stefanovic is sick of hearing about Schapelle Corby.

Maybe he just wanted to make himself the story.

Could Schapelle be heading for Gladstone?

Australian Schapelle Corby is escorted by Bali Police at the parole office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, 27 May 2017.

Schapelle's mother teases her free daughter could be Gladstone bound

Six things you never knew about Men in Black

Mushu the pug

It's been 20 years since Men in Black first hit cinemas

New $46.7m counter-terrorism facility to be built in Wacol

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, pictured with Police Commisioner Ian Stewart, has announced plans to build a new counter-terrorism facility in Wacol.

The facility will be built over three years.

Home to a sex worker: Sordid history of iconic Coast shed

Milojevic Djordjevic's daughter Linda at the derelict shed on Yandina-Coolum Road.

The shed was once a liveable 'barrack'.

This is real estate's billion-dollar man

Bob Wolff at AREC with John McGrath of McGrath Real Estate.

They don’t call him the “Billion dollar man” for nothing

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

Report reveals progress on $319m airport upgrade

Aerials of the Sunshine Coast.Jetstar plane in front of the Susnhine Coast terminal, Sunshine Coast Airport.

Over two dozen government approvals needed for airport expansion

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!