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This is review in the series ‘Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Members’. ACFID ‘is the peak body for Australian non government (sic) organisations (NGOs) involved in international development and humanitarian action.’ It requires Members to adhere to a Code of Conduct. ‘Salesian Missions’ is one such Member.
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.
1. A search on the ACNC Register for ‘Salesian Missions’ gives no result. The same search on ABN Lookup gives ‘Salesian Missions Australia’, and shows that it is a business name (SMA) registered to Salesian Society Vic Inc. Returning to the Register, we see that Salesian Society Vic Inc is a registered charity (SSV).
SSV is part of an ACNC approved reporting group.
2. There is nothing to indicate that SMA collects donations door-to-door or in public places.
3. The web address begins with a closed padlock symbol, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].
However, the security of your information is not mentioned on the donation page.
4. SMA is not a separate charity, but an activity of SSV. It therefore doesn’t have a tax status separate to that of its owner, SSV. SSV’s ABN record (via the ACNC Register) says that a tax deduction is available for a donation both to it as an organisation (and that would therefore include SMA as one of its activities), and to three funds that it operates:
On the SMA donation page, there is no opportunity to give to SMA (and therefore SMA). In fact, all donations go to only one destination – the second of the Funds above.
5. The use of your donations
Context – what does SMA do?
From ‘About Us’ on the website:
This confirms that SMA is an activity of SSV. But it, confusingly, introduces another name for SSV: ‘Salesians of Don Bosco – Australia-Pacific Province’. This name is not registered.
But from near the bottom of the same page (‘About Us’) we find that, even though it is another name for SSV, there is a website in that name:
Therefore, this is the second website belonging to SSV.
So, as we saw before, SMA is a department of SSV/the Salesians. But what do SMA do? Back to the ‘About Us’ page:
Confusing. The Fund (AMOAF), although it is only an activity of SSV (see question 4 above), is described here as being synonymous with SSV. Which means that what the Fund does, is what SMA (the subject of this review) does.
Conclusion: Salesian Missions Australia (SMA) says that SMA = SSV = ASOAF = Salesians of Don Bosco.
Share the Gospel? 
No, no evidence of it, and not allowed anyway (government grants possible).
Where the money went
.How SSV – which we’ve seen is the same as SMA – used its donations is in its Financial Report 2019 on the ACNC Register.
.This Report is, like the identity of SMA, very confusing. And unhelpful:
- .The ‘Statement of Accounting Policies’ Note tells us that SMA controls ‘one other entity’, ‘Salesian Society Incorporated’. (This the other entity in the ACNC Group of which SSV is a part.) But it does not tell us whether the statements are of SSV or a consolidated entity.
- The ACNC Register entry for SSI says that it is a non-trading entity.
- That they are not consolidated financial statements is shown by the inclusion, without explanation, of an extra unaudited statement Salesians of Don Bosco – Consolidation of 2019 Financial Statements.
- But this extra statement does not make sense:
- .‘SSI’ is presumably Salesian Society Incorporated, the other charity in the ACNC Group (see above). But the figures match those of SSV (we are not given any figures for SSI.)
- Some financial statements matching the ASMOAF column are included in the Annual Report for year ended December 31, 2019 of ‘Salesian Missions Australia/The Australian Salesian Mission Overseas Aid Fund/Salesians of Don Bosco. This report is included in the latter part of the (SSV) Financial Report 2019.
- But including ASMOAF as something separate from SSV/SMA does not match what we discovered above – they are synonymous.
- But this extra statement does not make sense:
- The second major problem with the SSV accounts is that they are, by SSV’s own admission, grossly incomplete. The Minutes of the AGM of SSV – an unusual and unnecessary inclusion – show that the financial statements of SSV (not ASMOAF, above), omit a substantial part of the SSV operation:
- There are many other significant issues with the Financial Report.
- The auditor, Kevin F Jones FCA, saw nothing materially wrong with the SSV financial report.
.Where the money went
.Because of the above issues, we cannot tell you will any reliability, where the money went.
.The people responsible for the situation and the reporting
The following people included declarations in the Financial Report (see footnote v), so they were the people responsible for the situation and the reporting:
Both the ACNC Register and the website show that Damian has since been replaced by Petelo Vito Pau. They diverge though on Brian Ahern: the website shows that he has gone, replaced by Michael Harris.
There are no non-executive directors on the board.
We are not told the number of members, so can’t assess the accountability there.
The accountability exerted by the Australian Council for International Development is limited – the condition of the reporting is evidence of that.
Nothing systematic found.
SMA welcomes feedback:
We sent SMA a draft of this review. They did not respond.
- 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?
- Which explains the description that SSV have put on the ACNC Register: ↑
- ‘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]. ↑
- The auditor Kevin F Jones FCA says that the report that he audited included ‘the responsible entities declaration’, but no such declaration is included.
- There are six statements ‘Declaration for Responsible Persons confirming they are not Disqualified under Governance Standard 4’ included in the Report, so we suspect that SMA that this was the declaration that was required.
- It appears the SMA did not prepare the financial statements itself:
Our guess is that they were prepared by the auditor, but the usual disclosure of ‘auditor remuneration’ so we can’t check.
- The ‘Statement of Accounting Policies’ says that ‘These financial reports are Special Purpose Financial Reports’, but does not, as they are required to do, say why the directors made this decision.
- Given the size and complexity of SSV, the approval by the auditor of this decision, is questionable when compared to advice from his own professional body:
Enhancing Not-for-Profit Annual and Financial Reporting, March 2013, accessed from their website March 2020.
- The auditor signed on 5 May 2020, well into the pandemic, yet neither there is no mention of it by either directors or auditor.
- The Notes to the Financial Statements are missing many of the necessary Notes.
- The Income and Expenditure Statement (an out-of-date title) omits a section, Comprehensive Income, that has long been a requirement.
- The directors use, contrary to the Accounting Standards, a mixed classification of expenses.
- Two expenses, comprising 40% of the total, are totals of a range of expenses that are not disclosed, and that should be included in the list of expenses above them: