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A charity that took part in the ACNC’s landmark 2019-2020 Bushfires Review has taken further steps to be transparent about the way it has used donated funds.

ACNC Commissioner Dr Gary Johns welcomed a report released at the end of August by the Australian Red Cross.

“From time to time, there are criticisms of the way a charity spends money — even when that criticism is unfounded. All charities should see the value of being transparent and accountable,” Dr Johns said.

Last year, there was significant media and public scrutiny of the Australian Red Cross and other charities for the way donations to bushfire fundraising campaigns were being distributed.

The ACNC conducted a landmark review, and published a report last October. It found charities, including the Australian Red Cross, to be credible and professional in managing donations, balancing immediate relief with the need to supply funds for the long-term recovery phase.

At that stage the Australian Red Cross had distributed approximately 72 per cent of funds raised. The latest Australian Red Cross report details how it has spent the balance of the funds raised since then.

Dr Johns said the media, donors and the public need to be aware that in emergency situations it is not always possible or practical for charities to begin delivering programs immediately.

“As we found in our bushfire response review, disaster recovery often requires support over an extended period and there are a number of reasons that a charity may take time to distribute funds. It may need information and time to plan how to maximise its impact. It may need to put in place procedures to guard against fraudulent claims, and so on.

“In this instance we have a good example of a charity taking steps to be transparent and accountable to donors in the expenditure of funds as well as to demonstrate the significant outcomes for people who have benefited from support and services provided.”