Money puzzle lingers

24 May, 2006 12:25 PM

Confusion and frustration relating to the location more than $300,000 raised for the Milton Cancer Outpatients Appeal continues to grow with little hope of a swift resolution in sight.

Appeal president Dee Carrington expressed her disappointment and anger over the South Eastern Sydney Area Health's refusal to return more than $300,000 raised by the Appeal committee for the construction of a dedicated cancer treatment facility in Milton.

She said she was not prepared to let SESIAHS jeopardise the project and would continue to fight for the more than $300,000 raised by the community to be returned to the Appeal committee.

 

Member for South Coast Shelley Hancock raised concerns about the money almost two weeks ago in State Parliament.

 

In a written statement a spokesperson for SESIAHS said the money was now in a special purpose and trust account.

If the money is in a trust account it could not be returned to the Appeal and would make it difficult for the committee to access the money.

"As the member for the South Coast has previously been advised the money was deposited by the Cancer Outpatients Appeal Committee into a Special Purposes and Trust account.

"This trust fund is administered under the Public Trustees Act.

"By law the Area Health Service cannot use this money for anything other than that which the community intended.

"In line with Australian Taxation requirements the Area Health Service cannot pay the $800 for the Development Application without a valid tax invoice.

"The Area Health Service contacted the Council on 16 May to request an invoice.

"The invoice was received at 1pm on May 16.

"The cheque was made out the following day and immediately mailed to a representative of the Cancer Outpatients Appeal.

"The Area Health Service is seeking advice from the Crown Solicitors office which will be provided to the Committee at a meeting to be scheduled."

Despite calling for an urgent meeting with the Appeal committee Mrs Carrington has not received any formal contact from SESIAHS.

"I still don't really know where the money is," Mrs Carrington said.

"That is the primary concern.

"We have documentation that states the $300,000 is in a special purpose account but SESIAHS is claiming it is in a trust account and now we have another statement saying it is in a special purposes and trust account.

"No one has confirmed anything with me and that scares the life out of me.

"I have documentation stating a special purposes account and a trust account are two very different things.

"It was my understanding the money had been placed in a special purpose account.

"I have information which clearly states that as of February the money was in a special purpose account.

"There is no reason for this to have changed and if it did why wasn't the Appeal informed?

"It seems they can't decide which type of account the money is in and the special purpose and trust account is not a valid explanation."

Mrs Carrington said SESIAHS had not been forthcoming with information, which added to her frustration and dissatisfaction.

She said the Appeal started raising money in December 2003 with an auction at the Star Hotel Milton.

This event raised $20,000 with the money going to SESIAH to be held on behalf of the Appeal.

According to Mrs Carrington's records an actual account, a special purpose account, was not established by SESIAHS for seven months and then it took a further 12 months for the funds to be reconciled.

"It was seven months before SESIAHS set up a special purpose account," Mrs Carrington said.

"Nobody knows where the money went.

"Fortunately we've kept extremely good records of donations and funds deposited into that account.

"I even had SESIAHS calling me to find out how much was supposed to be in the account."

Mrs Carrington said having to go through a trust account to make payments would create delays and more red tape for the Appeal.

She said SESIAHS was well aware the Appeal was taking responsibility for building the facility and questioned why the money would then be placed in a trust account.

"I don't believe the money is in a trust account," Mrs Carrington said.

"If it is it's outrageous.

"It would have been set up after SESIAHS was informed and fully aware we were taking responsibility.

"It would be an act of vandalism."

Even more worrying for the Appeal committee is the thought of having to pay administration fees to SESIAHS.

"The big question is if this money is in a trust and SESIAHS is going to administer the project are they going to charge us administration fees?

"We don't even know if we've been given any interest as we haven't had a statement from SESIAHS for several months.

"It's so condescending to say 'We'll doll out the money when it is needed.'

"I have no confidence that SESIAHS is capable of handling the bills that will come in.

"The money should be accessible to the Appeal so we can be sure to have everything taken care of in a timely manner.

"I urge everyone to write to the Minister for Health John Hatzistergos and express their concern."

JOHN HATZISTERGOS, NSW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .gov.au

phone: (02) 9228 4977

fax: (02) 9228 3600

Address: Level 31, Governor Macquarie Tower

1 Farrer Place

Sydney NSW 2000