Date: July 12 2012
THE founder of Clean up Australia, Ian Kiernan, has vowed that Australia's largest annual community environmental event will go ahead next year despite the organisation retrenching its corporate staff and being hit with a sponsorship ''black hole''.
Mr Kiernan said that he and the group's chief executive, Terrie-Ann Johnson, would seek to bridge the next months, working without pay, until fresh sponsorships could be secured. Clean Up Australia's paid staff were told last week they would lose their jobs because of a funding crisis that he said left the organisation with a ''horrific effect'' on its cash flow. ''It's just a bump in the road, these things happen in business,'' Mr Kiernan said. ''What happened is that we were really well structured and then we had the failure of a sponsor that cost us $200,000 and then another party didn't renew [their sponsorship], so it created a black hole for us.''
''We weren't pleased to let our fantastic people go and we're hopeful that we may be able to get them back … but in the meantime we will have to keep it going.''
Clean Up Australia began in 1989 when Mr Kiernan organised a community event to clean up Sydney Harbour, with 40,000 volunteers turning up to help. The following year, it became a national campaign with the first Clean Up Australia Day. At this year's event in March, an estimated 590,000 volunteers at thousands of registered sites across Australia participated cleaning streets, parks, beaches and bushland from rubbish, according to its website.
The organisation secured more than $2.4 million in cash, in-kind services and products from its sponsors in financial 2010-11, yet major partners such as McDonald's and Veolia have scaled back funding and private donations dropped off by almost a quarter to below $150,000 that year.
Mr Kiernan, who was named Australian of the Year in 1994 and was made an officer of the Order of Australia for his efforts to protect the environment, was tight-lipped about the sponsors who did not renew.
He said there was ''no doubt'' about the future of the organisation. Next year's Clean Up Australia Day, which has been scheduled for March 3, 2013, would go ahead as talks to find new sponsors were in advanced stages.
''The organisation is going to continue, no doubt about that,'' he said.
''At worst, I'll just stay on as a volunteer, which is how I started the thing.''
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