Queensland property mogul Kevin Young donated $1 million to the Red Cross more than a decade ago to build a centre for homeless youth. But he claims his money wasn’t used to build it and is calling for an inquiry.
One of Australia’s richest men has called for an inquiry into how charities use donated money after his $1 million was not spent how he intended.
Founder of the Property Group Kevin Young gave $1 million to the Red Cross in 2010 for what he claims was to help build a centre for homeless young people in Brisbane.
“It was supposed to be a purpose-built building that would take people off the street and transform them and help them get a job,” Mr Young said.
Council land in Fortitude Valley was donated in 2010 and the federal government chipped in $14 million to build low-cost housing on the site. Mr Young put up $1m for “The Young Centre” to be established with the Red Cross to run the service.
“We want to ensure at-risk young people receive all the support they need to get back on track and achieve their life goals,” Red Cross Queensland executive director Kevin Keeffe was quoted saying at the time.
“The land was donated for the building and I donated the money for the building. The idea was a transition place to help young people,” Mr Young said.
“They now don’t return my calls. I’ve been trying to speak to them for the last 12 months and they just haven’t returned my calls.”
“Funding went solely to the service, including lease of premises in Church Street, then Brunswick Street, employment of youth workers and provision of rental subsidies for people at risk of losing their tenancies,” he said.
But Mr Young, who attended a turning of the soil ceremony more than a decade ago, said at no stage was his money meant for anything other than the building.
“It was to build a building on land donated by Brisbane City Council,” he said.
“We went to a turning of the soil ceremony. The money was to purpose build a facility to get kids off the street and prepare them for a job. At no stage did I pay $1 million to lease a facility,” Mr Young said.
Media releases from 2010 show that the building was funded by Kevin Rudd’s federal Government “Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan” for Brisbane Housing Company to construct 83 studio and one-bedroom units at 14 Church St with the eight-floor building also housing “the Australian Red Cross’s Brisbane Centre for Young People, which will run learning and development programs for young people”.
The Brisbane Housing Company confirmed they went ahead with the building but the Red Cross pulled out of the deal at the last minute.
Craig Michaels, who ran another charity for homeless, recalls attending a meeting with Mr Young and the Red Cross about the use of the money and asked where it had gone.
“I asked them where the money went and they couldn’t answer me,” he said.
“I definitely think there needs to be an inquiry.”
The Red Cross defended its use of the money, saying it had helped hundreds of homeless youth.
“Australian Red Cross pays tribute to the legacy of generous donors Kevin and Kathy Young. In keeping with Red Cross’s stated intentions of the time of the generous gift, and in line with Red Cross’s records, the donation enabled delivery of a tailored homelessness program to young people,” Mr Sivalingum said.
“At the conclusion of the program a transition to Red Cross’s Night cafe was made, offering a more sustainable model better suited to meet the changing needs of young homeless people, providing a safe drop-in space, free meals and hot showers several nights a week in inner city Brisbane.
“The transition involved consultations with all stakeholders including benefactors. Night Cafe continues to support young people at risk of homelessness.”
But Mr Young said he now regrets his decision to donate the money. “My $1m was not to duplicate a night kitchen,” Mr Young said. “I should have gone ahead and done it myself.”
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