Care: At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current. Use the ‘Search charity names’ box to see if there is a later review. If the latest review has a message like this, you are welcome to make your case for an updated review via email to email@example.com.
This is a review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission’ (and a means for a Member to get income tax exemption when it might not otherwise be available). Members must sign up to a set of standards, and this, at least on paper, makes them a better bet for your donations (or other involvement).
‘Australian Indigenous Ministries’ is one such Member.
The website linked from the Missions Interlink membership goes to a website in the same name. Here they seek online donations.
The ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:
- Check the charity’s name.
- Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
- Be careful of online requests for donations.
- No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one, and
- Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.
A search on the ACNC Register for ‘Australian Indigenous Ministries’ gives a registered charity in the name Australian Indigenous Ministries Inc (AIM).
- AIM should be using its full name. It is not doing so on its website.
- There is also company in the same name (associated with AIM, see below), and an unincorporated body in the same name (what’s the connection – if any?)
- AIM still doesn’t have the required registration (an ARBN) for ‘carrying on business’ outside NSW.
There is nothing to indicate that AIM uses either door-to-door or street collectors.
The web address begins with a closed padlock symbol, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above]. A ‘Verified and Secured’ logo of the provider of that security appears at the bottom of the giving page, implying that the personal information that you enter is safe.
AIM’s ABN record (via the ACNC Register) shows that your donation will not entitle you to a tax deduction. Nothing on the donation page implies otherwise.
From the December 2020 – February 2021 Magazine:
Vision: ‘Strong aboriginal churches’
Mission: ‘We aim to Biblically disciple Aboriginal believers and develop their leadership for gospel ministry’
From the Management Committee Statement [Financial Report 2019], AIM’s ‘principal activities’ are ‘To facilitate the spreading of the Christian Gospel to Indigenous Australians through outreach, discipling and counselling.’
For more information on these activities see under ‘Ministry’ in the main menu.
Sharing the Gospel
How AIM uses its revenue
The audited account of how a charity uses donations is the Financial Report on the ACNC Register.
The directors – ‘Persons responsible’, below – signed a declaration [Financial Report 2019] that the ‘financial statements and notes’
For this to be true the financial statements had to comply, at a minimum, with the Australian Accounting Standards (AASs) [www.aasb.gov.au]. In turn, this means that the directors must present you with sufficient information to understand the full situation and performance of AIM.
But there are material deviations from these Standards, making AIM’s Report confusing and incomplete:
- The cover says that it is a report by AIM, but the Directors (sic) Declaration is made by the directors of ‘Indigenous Ministries Pty Ltd’. There is no such company, but there is one called Australian Indigenous Ministries Pty Limited.
- Above the heading on the Declaration it says that the company is the ‘trustee for’ AIM. But an incorporated association is not a trust.
- Note 12 in the Notes to and forming part of these accounts says that all AIM’s assets are held by the company:
- AIM do not explain why these assets are also included in its accounts [Statement of Financial Position].
- The exceptionally large loss this year, 560K, was due principally to them making a $500K donation:
- They do not explain either ‘QLD AMCC’ or why, if the properties are held by the company (see above), the proceeds were held by ‘AIM NSW’.
Retta Nixon Home legal settlement
- There is only an indirect reference to the payment required of AIM as a result of settling a claim against it by former residents of one of its homes:
- At the time they asked the public for donations to help with the payment. Has the payment been made?
Future legal action against AIM
- AIM do not mention the possibility of future legal action against AIM, nor the effect of the National Redress Scheme of institutional abuse. (Notes in the Financial Report are missing for contingent liabilities, commitments and events after balance date.)
Property, plant and equipment
- The amount of Accumulated Depreciation on buildings, exactly $500K, and the lack of separation of land from buildings, implies that depreciation on buildings (Note 1) has not been applied properly.
- It appears that no depreciation was provided on buildings this year.
- The properties have not been valued for 11 years.
- The required reconciliation of property, plant and equipment balances is missing.
- The large reduction in plant and equipment is unexplained.
- The Auditor’s Independence Declaration is addressed to the directors of the company, not AIM, so presumably the auditor, David Shedden, thought that he was auditing the company’s financial statements.
- All the statements that must be signed are unsigned.
- Note 12, saying that only Roy Hatfield and John Keane were directors during the year, contradicts the Directors (sic) Declaration.
- The Management Committee Statement is said to be submitted by ‘the AIM Governing Council’.
The financial statements
- The Income Statement misses a section that has long been required.
- Many of the required Notes are missing from the Notes to and forming part of these accounts. This includes those about new or amended Accounting Standards, revenue recognition, employee benefits, critical accounting judgments, financial instruments, key management, the remuneration of auditors, contingent liabilities and commitments.
- The Statement of Cash Flows classified the $500K donation (see above) as an investment.
- The audit report has been omitted from the Financial Report.
- Why was it necessary to borrow from Australian Indigenous Ministries Pty Ltd?
- The explanation of ‘Designated Funds’ is confusing: if these funds are merely revenue that has yet to be used on a project, then they are incorrectly classified as a liability; if they are funds that belong to another entity why haven’t they been paid to them?
- There is no explanation why donations are still needed for a charity that has $414K in investments and received only $70K in donations year.
So, no, the financial statements and notes don’t give a true and fair view.
Who was responsible?
From the information in the Management Committee Statement (Financial Report 2019], these were the people responsible for the Financial Report (including the false declaration):
- If the ACNC Register is correct then only two of the six above, Yane Demanik and Cliff Letcher, are still directors:
- This means that the Council is at least five members short of what is required by the Constitution.
- The ‘History’ page says that there is a ‘AIM Church Council’:
- What is the relationship between this body, and the ‘Governing Council’ and ‘Management Committee; mentioned above?
- The directors are responsible to the members. The number of members is not disclosed.
Everything AIM is doing may be being done ‘properly’, but unless the money is producing the change in people that the charity intends (i.e., an impact), the money would be better used elsewhere. And the same applies if the impact is less than is being achieved by another charity.
Some anecdotal reports of impact are given, and other can be implied, in the news publications, but nothing systematic was found.
Other than on its prayer app, AIM does not invite feedback.
We sent them a draft of this review. They…did not respond.
- See here for the previous review. ↑
- https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about ↑
- A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering:
- Focus on the nature of the charity’s work, its beneficiaries and the impact the charity is having in the community.
- Is it clear what the charity is trying to achieve and how its activities work towards its objectives?
- Would you like to spend your money, or time if volunteering, to support these objectives?
- Is the charity being transparent about its activities?
- On the website, the vision is out-of-date, and there is no mission. ↑
- ‘When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett says this about sharing the Gospel: ‘A host of contextual issues determine the best manner and the appropriate time to present the gospel verbally, particularly in militant Muslim or Hindu settings. But without such a presentation, it is not possible for people to be personally transformed in all their relationships, which is what poverty alleviation is all about’ [Kindle Locations 1262-1264, Moody Publishers]. ↑
- A Google search gives only the Queensland branch of the ‘Australian Maltese Chamber of Commerce’. And this is the only reference on the website: ↑
- The current directors are not shown on the website. ↑
- The behaviour of its people, its use of money, and how it goes about its business. ↑
- The ACNC has previously – the Fact Sheet is no longer on the site – explained impact this way: “Every charity has a mission that is associated with producing a public benefit. As this mission is pursued, the changes produced in individuals and their communities can be referred to as the charity’s ‘impact.’ If you are donating to a charity, you may wish to make sure that your donation is creating the greatest impact possible.’ There is no reason why this wouldn’t still be their view. ↑