The head of the world-famous Australian Craniofacial Unit says a foundation claiming to be the charitable arm of the life-changing facility has failed to deliver any “meaningful” funds despite having $9 million in assets.
The head of the world-famous Australian Craniofacial Unit says a foundation claiming to be the charitable arm of the life-changing facility has failed to deliver any “meaningful” funds despite having $9 million in assets.

Charity cash dispute at world-famous craniofacial unit

The head of the world-famous Australian Craniofacial Unit says a foundation claiming to be the charitable arm of the life-changing facility has failed to deliver any "meaningful" funds despite having $9 million in assets.

Dr Mark Moore, in charge at the craniofacial unit at the Women's and Children's Hospital for two years, says his unit has "no legal connection" to the registered charity Australian Cranio Maxillo Facial Foundation.

He claims that despite no legal ties, ACMFF, which trades as Craniofacial Australia, may be benefiting from the confusion surrounding the similar names and the good name of the craniofacial unit.

In a lengthy written response to a list of questions from The Advertiser, the ACMFF said it

is "surprised by any suggestion of misuse of funds, dishonesty or misconduct".

The charity said it had been "frozen out" by the WCH, the Central Adelaide Local Area Network and the cranifacial unit.

"We remain willing and eager to collaborate with the WCH, but regret that our offers of meeting both the chief executive of the WCH and the chair of the relevant local health network have been rejected in recent months.

"We do not understand why we are being frozen out."

Dr Mark Moore, medical head of the Australian Craniofacial Unit. Picture: ABC Catalyst
Dr Mark Moore, medical head of the Australian Craniofacial Unit. Picture: ABC Catalyst

Based at North Adelaide, ACMFF is founded and chaired by Professor David David.

The 2018 South Australian of the Year co-founded the Australian Craniofacial Unit, internationally renowned for its treatment of head and face deformities, in 1975.

Professor David stepped down as the medical unit head of the craniofacial unit in 2017 before formally resigning in June 2018.

In its two most recent annual reports ACMFF stated it handed over a total of more than $150,000 to the craniofacial unit - $106,650 in 2017/2018 and $43,804 in 2018/19.

Dr Moore, who worked alongside Professor David for more than 30 years, disputes those figures.

Professor David David was named South Australian Of The Year in 2018. Picture: AAP/Matt Loxton
Professor David David was named South Australian Of The Year in 2018. Picture: AAP/Matt Loxton

"If I was being generous I might be able to find $10,000 last year donated in chairs, a few children's toys and some tongue depressors but that's all," he said.

"My colleagues and I can find no meaningful money given to the unit from the foundation this year."

Dr Moore, who is a financial member of ACMFF, said he made inquiries with the organisation last year about the level of its donations to the craniofacial unit.

"I wanted to know precisely where they had spent more than $100,000 but I was rebuffed by the organisation," he said.

"It was a surprising and disappointing response."

In its statement, the charity said its offers to meet with the unit to discuss ways to assist have been rejected. It says it is "not required to, and often doesn't, provide cash funding".

Until Craniofacial Australia updated its website last week, the site displayed this statement regarding its relationship with the Australian Craniofacial Unit.
Until Craniofacial Australia updated its website last week, the site displayed this statement regarding its relationship with the Australian Craniofacial Unit.

"We are in a position to assist the unit, and have offered to do so on numerous occasions to surgeons working at the unit, but our offers to meet and discuss ways to work collaboratively have been ignored or rejected."

The ACMFF says it remains "willing and eager" to collaborate with the WCH and had offered to bring in gifts for patients - but "were not admitted to the hospital" and were "mystified by the behaviour".

"We would welcome the chance to work with the WCH and Royal Adelaide Hospital, but pursuant to our objects and purposes this cannot and will not consist of simply handing money over without discussion, conversation and agreement," the statement said.

For the financial year 2018/19, ACMFF announced a surplus of $1.8 million, with more than $1.5 million received in the form of bequests.

It had cash on hand, and in hand, of $1.3 million and total assets of more than $9 million.

Last financial year the organisation, with 3.5 FTE staff members, spent $417,000 on management and administrative costs including $200,000 in wages.

It spent an additional $77,000 in rent including for its head office at 226 Melbourne Street, which was formerly owned by Professor David and housed his private surgery rooms.

Professor David David with a Craniofacial Unit patient in 2015. Picture: Keryn Stevens
Professor David David with a Craniofacial Unit patient in 2015. Picture: Keryn Stevens

ACMFF spent a further $168,000 last financial year as a direct cost of fundraising events.

"Their stated cause last year was to support our patients and us (ACFU)," Dr Moore said.

"Yet they are spending around 10 times more on administration costs than we supposedly received as a donation."

In its statement, the foundation said it stands behind its financial reports that have been independently audited by "respected auditors".

Its annual report features Professor David saying the charity would soon announce "new research and education programs".

But Dr Moore said his unit had received no approaches to fund research and previous research funding from ACMFF had been with withdrawn without explanation.

Dr Moore said he was disappointed with ACMFF's approach after the airing of the ABC's Catalyst TV program featuring the work of the craniofacial unit in October.

"They were out there saying how wonderful the program was and that people should donate to them," he said.

"It is in everyone's mind that we are one and the same organisation - and we're not.

"People believe if they donate to the ACMFF then the ACFU will be the direct beneficiary and that simply isn't the case.

"We are asking anyone interested in financially supporting our important work at the ACFU to donate directly, via the WCH."

Dr Mark Moore, medical head of the Australian Craniofacial Unit, with a patient in East Timor.
Dr Mark Moore, medical head of the Australian Craniofacial Unit, with a patient in East Timor.

 

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ACMFF marketing manager Sharon Thain told The Advertiser the organisation remained "the charity that raises funds and supports the unit (ACFU)".

In its written response, the ACMFF later gave a far broader definition of its role as a charitable organisation, saying it raises funds and provides grants "to support patients suffering craniofacial deformities across Australia and the world".

ACMFF ambassadors include former opposition leader Isobel Redmond and MP Annabel Digance.

Among additional board members to Professor David as president are financial adviser Nicholas Pyne, the brother of former federal MP Christopher Pyne, and Trevor Edmond, a partner at Wallmans Lawyers.

Professor David did not respond to a request for an interview.



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