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I made some criticism of the Charities Board’s handling of the application and the complaint. However, in general I found its response reasonable, given that, at the material time. it was not the Charities Board’s policy to give reasons for its decisions. The Charities Board apologised for the shortcomings I had found. The second complaint was that the Charities Board had not properly investigated a complaint against an organisation to which it had made a grant and had not responded adequately to a complaint that it had failed to do so. Learn more: E Conveyancing Brisbane

Two further complaints were put to me on which my investigations were not completed before the end of the review year. Both raise questions about the handling of decisions related to the suspension of grants and the consequences for the organisations concerned. My reviews have led me to make recommendations of a general kind as well as specific to the complaint. Sometimes, general recommendations can provide satisfaction to complainants even though of no direct help to them. In any event, I regard them as a way of ensuring that, as far as possible, the Charities Board makes constructive use of complaints to improve its performance.

Following initial consideration, I decided that there were insufficient grounds to pursue a number of other complaints put to me, but not many. I have been surprised at the relative paucity of complaints reaching me. This may in part be a tribute to the Charities Board staff in the way they are operating the complaints procedures. I hope so. However, I suspect though on the basis of only a few cases that it may also be because staff do not always refer complainants to their right to seek an independent review. This may in turn reflect a genuine difficulty in deciding when a matter of contention between a grant holder and the Charities Board should be regarded as a formal complaint and dealt with accordingly. This may be a matter to which the Charities Board needs to give some further attention, along with whether it should also publish annually some analysis of the number of complaints it has received. Early criticisms of the National Lottery and its distribution boards focused on a perceived lack of openness and accountability.

The Charities Board has often been levelled with charges of eccentricity in relation to the range of groups and activities it has chosen to fund. It has responded by saying it supports projects on merit, and has shown courage in defending decisions to support controversial projects such as lesbian and gay helplines. Its continued efforts to focus on the most disadvantaged members of society and to support causes which don’t automatically lend themselves to sexy or positive headlines is to be commended.

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