MEDIA RELEASE: Appco Australia does not tolerate offensive games & disputes series of factual errors in ABC 730 Report

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Posted at 2:51 pm

Appco Group Australia will terminate its contract with any marketing company that promotes or tolerates offensive or inappropriate activities, such as those highlighted on the ABC’s 730 Report.

Appco Australia sub-contracts approximately 60 businesses to provide services to its clients. Appco acknowledges that, in the past, some of these businesses have conducted motivational games that, while well-intentioned, may have crossed the line into improper behaviour.

Any such activities were conducted without the knowledge, permission or encouragement of Appco Australia.

Regardless of their original intent, these practices are and have always been completely unacceptable to Appco Australia and it has never tolerated them.

Appco Australia did not see these latest videos before they went to air, but can confirm that, so far as it is aware, neither of the companies have ever received any complaints about the activities shown, or in relation to bullying and harassment generally.

Furthermore, no complaints about such activities have ever been brought directly to Appco Australia’s attention and have only been brought to our attention through the media.

Appco Australia notes that it has never been alleged that activities like these have ever taken place in an Appco office.

Willful misrepresentation of the facts in ABC report

Appco Group Australia accepts that the behaviour highlighted in the 2014 videos shown on the ABC makes for a valid news story.

However, it is extremely inappropriate to report such matters with such disregard for facts, context and the current legal case.

Persistent statements that fundraisers “work for Appco”, are “Appco workers”, and that Appco Australia is “underpaying its workers” presume the outcome of a pending judicial proceeding which Appco Australia is vigorously defending, and which will determine the truth of these very allegations. Yet reporter Lorna Knowles has already stated these as facts. This is entirely irresponsible and prejudicial journalism.

The report also overlaid video footage of street fundraisers with the commentary that “many of the charity collectors commonly seen on city streets work for Appco”. Absolutely incorrect: quite apart from the allegation that those individuals “work for Appco” which, as noted above, Appco denies and is the subject of judicial proceedings, Appco Australia does not, in fact, conduct any street fundraising; furthermore, the charities filmed are not clients of Appco Australia.

Lorna Knowles went on to misrepresent the nature and effect of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) ruling, implying that it was a finding against Appco Group Australia, despite having been provided with written proof from the FWO that Appco Australia was not the subject of any adverse findings. Knowles also failed to clarify that the ruling was made in April 2016 and the claimant had simply received a letter in January 2017 reiterating the findings. It is not a new finding.

Knowles also incorrectly stated that up to 90% of funds raised go to the marketing company, not the charity. Yet there was no evidence presented to substantiate this claim and she failed to report that people who sign up for donations to Appco Australia’s charity partners are always informed in writing about the percentage (much lower than 90%) that goes to the charity. Not once was it considered that Appco Australia’s many long-term partnerships with numerous Australian charities might indicate that the services we provide are valued by and highly beneficial to them.

Finally, it was disappointing that the report included a number of spokespeople in support of the reporter’s clearly pre-determined angle, but no one representing the charity or professional fundraising sector.

Appco Australia supplied two statements to the ABC, but it largely failed to take the key facts within them into account.

Appco Australia has taken swift action on inappropriate behaviour

As soon as the media reported incidences of inappropriate behaviour within some of the companies sub-contracted by Appco Australia, Appco Australia launched an investigation. Appco has also implemented an action plan to see to it that these and any other inappropriate activities do not occur.

All marketing companies currently sub-contracted by Appco Australia must now confirm in writing that they have comprehensive anti-bullying, anti-harassment and workplace health and safety policies in place and that all members of staff and independent contractors are aware of those policies and receive training about them.

Media enquiries: Michael Smith 0411 055 306


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