Guide Dogs Victoria has stepped down chief executive officer Karen Hayes, following her endorsement of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in political materials distributed in the lead-up to the Federal election.
The political material of concern features a picture of Ms Hayes holding a guide dogs puppy with a personal letter headed “Why I am supporting Josh Frydenberg”. It starts off with “Time and time again, Josh has shown his genuine care for Guide Dogs Victoria and the people with low vision and blindness we serve. He has always maintained his strong and unwavering commitment to his local Kooyang community for whom he has delivered in many ways.”
The board has launched an internal investigation and requested that this material be immediately removed from circulation
The letter continues with more details about Mr Frydenberg’s support of the not-for-profit organisation, before being signed off with ‘Karen, Chief Executive Officer, Guide Dogs Victoria’.
No Former Knowledge
In a statement issued by Guide Dogs Victoria, the organisation’s Board claimed no prior knowledge of the materials, which it said had caused concern for both the community and its supporters.
“Guide Dogs Victoria has been made aware of the distribution of political material which includes comments from our CEO who appears to endorse a local candidate in the upcoming federal election. The board of Guide Dogs Victoria fully understands the concerns that have been raised by members of the community and from our supporters about this matter.
“Guide Dogs Victoria is absolutely committed to its important work as a charitable apolitical organisation in line with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) regulations. 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 this material be immediately removed from circulation. We will make no further comment during this process.
“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.”