Australians seeking to support war veterans are being urged not to be put off by claims of charities failing to pass on funds raised for former diggers.
The federal government has launched a review of the funding arrangements for charity Camp Gallipoli amid claims of financial dishonesty.
Camp Gallipoli runs Anzac Day eve camp-out events for thousands of ticketholders – many of them schoolchildren – in various capital cities to learn about the experiences of diggers.
It promised to donate any surplus funds to the Returned and Services League and Legacy Australia, but both bodies say they have not seen a cent.
The organisation, which ran the nationwide camp-out event for the first time in 2015, has denied claims of financial mismanagement.
Chief executive Chris Fox said high costs and bad weather led to there being no money left over from last year’s events to forward on to the veterans groups.
“I’m sorry to the RSL and Legacy if they feel as though we should have given them some cash,” Mr Fox told the ABC.
“But, hey, it’s our call and we just didn’t have any left over. So we’re sorry.”
Fairfax reports the group last year received a $2.5 million federal funding grant, with Mr Fox in a position to personally profit by having rights to charge “management fees”.
Mr Fox denies he was attempting to turn the event into a commercial venture.
“We totally deny any monies were used inappropriately. We refute any suggestion of any impropriety at all,” he said.
Ken Foster from the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia is concerned the reports may make people reluctant to donate generously.
“When there’s a worthwhile cause trying to raise funds and generate income for veterans or any other charity, to have a situation where people are hesitant because they’re not sure of the legitimacy of the organisation, they hold back and the good causes suffer,” Mr Foster told AAP.
Mr Foster said the problem of charities purporting to raise money for veterans then not passing it on had occured before, and wasn’t surprising.
He said it was enough to leave a “sour taste” in the mouth of any veteran, particularly those doing it tough.
“People would be more than happy to support anything to do with the Anzac tradition,” he said.
“If people are really trying to raise money for a good cause, they don’t then make sure that their management fees come out first.”
Mr Fox is hoping this year’s events will be more profitable so he can give veterans groups a “nice, fat cheque.”