RESCUE CHOPPER SERVICE MAY SUE
By JAMIE BROWN
THE Lismore-based Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service may take legal action against a Queensland-based rescue service which has targeted Northern Rivers residents for donations.
There are also accusations that telemarketers working for a Queensland service have slandered the good name of the local organisation.
Lismore helicopter boss Perry Wells said yesterday the unnamed Queensland service had the potential to destabilise 25 years of excellent community relations between the Westpac Life Saver organisation and a generous local community.
One telemarketer allegation was that the local service charged users up to $35,000.
??That is just not true,?? Mr Wells said.
Based in Lismore for the past 20 years, and in Ballina for five years before that, the Westpac service relies on public donations for 50 per cent of its $4.5 million annual operating budget.
A further 12 per cent comes from corporate donations, of which Westpac is by the far the largest, with the remainder coming from government through a performance-based arrangement.
Users of the helicopter service are never charged.
With 19,000 charities in Australia competing for sponsorship dollars, funding expensive services like rescue helicopters requires a high?slevel of financial prowess.
However, the Westpac Lifesaver Service does not raise funds through telemarketing campaigns.
Mr Wells said his organisation was alerted to telemarketers targeting residents in Kyogle, Casino and Lismore after loyal Westpac Life Saver supporters of many years were contacted by the Queensland service. They, in turn, contacted Mr Wells to express their outrage.