Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV) is conducting an internal investigation after its chief executive officer appeared to endorse Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s re-election tilt.
In mid-April GDV’s Karen Hayes appeared in a social media video posted on Frydenberg’s Facebook page, and featured in letterbox leaflets delivered in the seat of Kooyong.
The subsequently deleted video clip shows Hayes praising Frydenberg’s contribution to GDV.
“We are doing a $30 million redevelopment of our campus here in Kew at the moment, and we would not have been in a position to have even started it without the support that Josh kicked off,” she said.
Hayes added that Frydenberg has been an “amazing supporter” of GDV for over 10 years.
“He gives us good advice and guidance and connects us with people in the community or within government that we need to talk to to make change,” she said.
The letterbox leaflet shows Hayes holding a puppy accompanied by text regarding Frydenberg’s commitment to guide dogs and his local electorate, and is signed “Karen, Chief Executive Officer, Guide Dogs Victoria.”
The endorsement may be a breach of regulations for charities set out by the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (ACNC), however the commission is yet to make public comment.
GDV issued a statement which said it fully understands the concerns that have been raised by its supporters and other members of the community.
“GDV is absolutely committed to its important work as a charitable apolitical organisation in line with the ACNC regulations,” the statement said.
“The board had no prior knowledge of the distribution of this material and does not endorse it.”
The board has launched an internal investigation and requested that the material be removed from circulation.
“We will make no further comment during this process,” the statement said.
“We are thankful for all the support that we receive from the community and from our wonderful donors, and we remain committed to our important work of supporting Victorians with low vision or blindness to live full and independent lives.”