Australia’s largest Muslim School may be forced to close after the Federal Government revoked $19 million in annual funding. Located in South West Sydney, Malek Fahd is one of six Islamic schools situated in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide under review due to financial mismanagement and governance failures.
The Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham is reluctant to inform the public how this investigation came about and what has been discovered.
It took the persistence, of an average hard working single mum, and former One Nation candidate Marella Harris to get the federal government to come to this decision investigate and due to those investigations revoke the funding. Marella started her investigation and legal challenge of MFIS, Malek Fahd Islamic Schools in September 2009. She borrowed money from family and friends. Also mortgaging her home to pay for courts costs awarded against her, but she never gave up. The fight for this is continuing, currently awaiting the outcome of the appeals court.
This is what has been discovered and more:
- Federal and State funding is paid to schools based on the number of students, the bulk of the grant money for each term usually paid at the beginning of the year, with instalments in July and October and the balance paid in December each year.
- Greenacre is situated in South West Sydney and is currently not showing as accredited or registered with the Board of Studies Teaching and Educational standards of NSW, so not entitled to funding.
- Both Hoxton Park and Beaumont Hills schools that should be separate entities have been working under Greenacre. If Greenacre closes so will Hoxton Park and Beaumont.
- AFIC, Australian Federation of Islamic Councils buys the land to build the schools and then charges the school rent.
- Rent was paid charged by AFIC to MFIS, 5 years in advance so more land could be bought to build more schools.
- It is noted that the Greenacre board of Directors are the same as those on the AFIC board of Directors, which clearly contravenes the rules of government grants.
- Since January 2005 till December 2014 approx. $163 Million has been paid in Commonwealth grants and also collecting millions from State government grants, this is just for the three schools in NSW, grants amounts for the other states have not be obtained.
- Apart from the $163 Million, the Commonwealth has handed over $16 million in GST. The state government has also handed over a considerable sum in GST. Because the schools are a religious organisation and registered as a charity they are not obliged to pay GST. Therefore the GST component has been allegedly pocketed. Both the state and commonwealth governments have misappropriated millions of taxpayers’ dollars through mismanagement and lack of investigation.
- The NSW State Government is asking that $9 million be paid back but MFIS is now calling this racism.
- Mr Barrett now a principal at a Brisbane school was also the principal at Greenacre.
Simon Birmingham said, “The review does look very closely at the governance structures of the school, whether the school board or at least the board of the approved authority to receive the funds is independent from any other entity, and there are concerns about that. It equally has a very close look at matters in relation to how the funds are used and whether those funds are used exclusively for the school and again, there are concerns that exist in those areas”.
This is an absolute disgrace. If it wasn’t for Marella Harris fighting this in the courts I can assure you it would never have come to light. I am fed up with people in very well paid positions failing to do their jobs with diligence on behalf of the Australian taxpayer.
I am calling for the investigation in to the financial dealings between State and Commonwealth to be retrospective to at least the year 2000 onwards. I also believe that a full investigation be conducted as to whether the schools have in fact been teaching the States curriculum.
If you would like to show your appreciation to Marella for taking up this fight then a small donation to help her pay for all costs associated with this case would be appreciated.
The fighting fund account details are
Account Name: HPRAG
BSB 082 343
Account # 169785990