The founder of Brisbane-based homelessness charity Street Swags is currently facing police investigation, accused of spending $170,000 on the organisation’s credit card.
According to The Daily Telegraph, court documents show Jean Madden used the charity to pay for thousands of dollars in lunch bills, charge $2324 to her Apple Store account and to obtain a $60,000 loan for a Toyota Landcruiser.
It’s also claimed she provided her partner, the owner of cabin manufacturing business Walkabout Beds, a $528,000-a-year contract with the organisation.
The documents were tendered as part of an ongoing Supreme Court dispute between Madden and Street Swags.
Madden, Queensland’s 2010 Young Australian of the Year, founded the organisation in 2005 and in the years since has provided tens of thousands of waterproof sleeping bags to homeless people across the country.
However, the former teacher was spectacularly sacked from the organisation and its board in May following a forensic audit of the charity’s finances.
She recently took to Facebook to address the allegations, saying in a June 16 video post that the claims were “fantastical”.
“I’ve had an impeccable career which has been outstanding with many awards and accolations [sic],” she said. “Thank you to everyone who has given me so much support over the years and have continued to during this very awful time for all of us.”
The audit is currently in the hands of investigating police.
The Daily Telegraph reports Madden threatened to deliberately bankrupt Street Swags by moving its assets to Walkabout Beds.
“If proceedings are not swift and to my liking, when the current stock is gone, Street Swags will be nothing more than my legacy,” she allegedly wrote to the organisation in March.
“If I was to leave, the cabin business would go with me and I may make it my new commercial endeavour.”
The same month, Madden launched Swags with Walls, a new organisation that aims to build cabins for the homeless.