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BHVI Foundation avoids collapse; ‘last minute’ plan saves charity

03/06/2019By Callum Glennen
A raft of cost-cutting measures and staff redundancies, as well as a merger with Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) Australia, have saved the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation from collapse after documents reveal maladministration had set it on a path to insolvency.

Following months of crises that began with the removal in January of former CEO Ms Amanda Davis, and a forensic investigation conducted by consultancy firm Control Risks, documents obtained by Insight reveal the drastic and sweeping changes needed by the end of the current financial year to save BHVI Foundation.

(It should be noted that Brien Holden Vision Institute Ltd is a separate entity from the BHVI Foundation.)

After Control Risk’s investigation an accounting audit of the BHVI Foundation was conducted by KPMG at the request of the charity. The summary report, which Insight has obtained, was presented to the board and senior staff last week.

It details the severity of the situation, in particular BHVI Foundation’s poor accounting practices. Areas of concern listed include sources of income that do not reconcile, inconsistent definitions of income, cash and accruals, and that the manner in which quarantined funds were reported in financial records. KPMG warned that this made it difficult to understand the true position of individual projects.

The KPMG report was scathing and recommended: “Significant and immediate improvements to reporting and governance over project and operational spending required to ensure ongoing sustainability and viability of BHVIF.”

KPMG also suggested that if the BHVI Foundation’s 2018-19 financials are not balanced and additional sources of income are not secured “consideration must be given to winding up the Foundation.”

However, a plan to save BHVI Foundation has now been implemented.

Yvette Waddell, BHVI CEO
Yvette Waddell, BHVI CEO
“The BHVI Foundationas new leadership has responded to the findings of the KPMG review by initiating a merger with OGS Australia and making the difficult decisions needed to reduce expenditure and balance the budget”
Yvette Waddell, BHVI Foundation.

When contacted for comment, BHVI Ltd and BHVI Foundation CEO Ms Yvette Waddell told Insight that the organisation’s financial future is now guaranteed beyond the current financial year.

“The Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation’s new leadership has responded to the findings of the KPMG review by initiating a merger with OGS Australia and making the difficult decisions needed to reduce expenditure and balance the budget. The Foundation’s financial future is now secure,” Waddell said.

As previously reported, there was substantial confusion over the merger of BHVI Foundation and OGS Australia announced in January 2018. Insight confirmed in April this year that the merger was never formally completed, even though the two entities carried on for more than 12 months as if it had.

Ms Leigh Cleave, OGS global director of development clarified at the time that while an in principal decision to merge was made, in March 2018 the OGS board advised against the merger, though that was never communicated to the profession.

Insight understands that a series of co-ordinated meetings among the various organisations were held on Wednesday 29 May.

Waddell said that the drastic measures needed to secure the future of the BHVI Foundation had been accepted.

“All Boards and shareholders have approved the merger. It will take effect 1 July 2019. The combined entity will trade as Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation. The assets and liabilities of OGS Australia will be consolidated with the assets and liabilities of the Foundation,” she said.

There will also be a reduction of BHVI Foundation’s programs.

“There will be changes to international programs in Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America and South East Asia. Service delivery will continue in these countries however we are scaling down our operations and some projects will cease,” Waddell said.

The rescue plan also includes staff cuts.

“Twenty positions in head office and international offices will be made redundant or in the case of contractors be brought to an end. This number does not include the BHVI Africa Trust, which is currently working through its own restructure.”

“Beginning 1 July 2019, the Foundation will be operating with a balanced budget. The finance function will be outsourced to KPMG. All staff entitlements are and will be fully funded.”

Insight was informed that full details relating to programs would be announced at a later date.


More reading:

Million-dollar bonus at Brien Holden sparks board governance concerns   - 07/09/2018
Revelation: Brien Holden chairman wrong   - 19/09/2018
BHVI chairman wrong about million-dollar bonus, more governance concerns emerge   - 03/10/2018
Brien Holden Institute chairman resigns  - 07/10/2018
Brien Holden Institute "missing" $1 million questioned  - 31/10/2018
BHVI Foundation removes CEO amid maladministration investigation   - 22/02/2019
BHVI under investigation by ACNC, while serious issues uncovered at foundation   - 05/04/2019
BHVI Foundation avoids collapse; ‘last minute’ plan saves charity   - 03/06/2019
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