Thursday, May 08, 2008

Salvos may just not be enough, by Kelly Burke and Erik Jensen - The Sydney Morning Herald - 1st May 2008

An offer by the Salvation Army to support the running of the Just Enough Faith Foundation may not be enough to save the charity, with its embattled founder refusing to step down.

Jeff Gambin has come under increasing pressure by trustees and volunteers to resign since it emerged more than a week ago that hundreds of thousands of dollars in the foundation's bank account appeared to have been used by Mr Gambin for gambling and other personal expenses between June 2005 and July 2007.

It also emerged that the foundation set up by Mr Gambin in 1993 to feed the city's homeless had been operating without a licence to fund-raise for all but six months of the past 11 years.

Mr Gambin has refused to discuss the allegations with the Herald, and is under investigation by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, the body responsible for overseeing charities.

In discussions with accountants and lawyers this week, the charity's board of trustees, which appears to consist of just two people, is also refusing to comment, as is the general manager Ian MacGregor.

On Monday night, the director of the Salvation Army's Oasis Youth Support Network, Paul Moulds, contacted Mr MacGregor offering to handle the running of the foundation's Rozelle kitchens and the food vans.

"It would be a tragedy for Sydney to see that service fall over," Captain Moulds said.

He said he had received a positive reception, although up to last night had still not been able to contact Mr Gambin.

Captain Moulds said The Salvation Army - whose status as a religious organisation makes it exempt from the need to carry a fund-raising licence - was also prepared to steward donations for Just Enough Faith while Mr Gambin was investigated.

The Salvation Army's offer follows a rescue attempt in 2004 by a Public Broadcasting Limited-backed company whose directors included John Alexander, Mark Bouris and Gretel Packer. The company channelled about $1.8 million into the Just Enough Faith bank accounts and provided a PBL accountant to iron-out the foundation's book-keeping. Mr Gambin refused to co-operate, however, and the Packer alliance cut the flow of money and deregistered its company last December.

Just Enough Faith volunteers this week said they were angry Mr Gambin had given no explanation or apology about the claims.

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