Street Swags founder Jean Madden arrives at Magistrates Court, Brisbane. Photographer: Liam Kidston.
Street Swags founder Jean Madden arrives at Magistrates Court, Brisbane. Photographer: Liam Kidston.

Charity founder on warpath after being cleared

STREET Swags founder Jean Madden will seek more than $50,000 in costs after sensationally being cleared of wrongdoing relating to her homeless charity.

This is the second time prosecutors have offered no evidence to support fraud allegations against Ms Madden, who in December last year was cleared before being re-charged with the same offences.

She had been accused of ripping off Street Swags to the tune of $150,000 in order to pay for her personal expenses between 2015-16.

But police today offered no evidence relating to the alleged frauds.

The former Young Australian of the Year said outside court she had lost her career as a teacher as a result of the charges.

She said she would continuing action in the Fair Work Commission for wrongful dismissal after being sacked from her own charity in 2016.

Street Swags founder Jean Madden arrives at Magistrates Court, Brisbane. Photographer: Liam Kidston.
Street Swags founder Jean Madden arrives at Magistrates Court, Brisbane. Photographer: Liam Kidston.

After four remaining charges of fraud were today withdrawn in the Brisbane Magistrates Court, barrister Greg McGuire made an application for "significant costs" in relation to the matter.

The Courier-Mail understands the figure sought is about $52,000.

The argument over costs was adjourned until February next year.

Outside court Madden said she was "extremely relieved" to be cleared of the charges that had been "maliciously" brought against her more than three years ago.

"These have been such detrimental charges for me personally, but for me the biggest loss is the homeless," she said.

Her solicitor, Kris Jahnke, of Guest Lawyers, said the charges had been devastating for Ms Madden's career and the reputation of the charity.

"It has destroyed my career with my charity work and as a school teacher. The next step is the Fair Work Commission as that's all been stayed for the past three-and-a-half years for these proceedings, so that's the next step," Ms Madden added.

Ms Madden was named Queensland's Young Australian of the Year in 2010 after founding Street Swags, a charity which distributes lightweight waterproof bedding for the homeless which converts into a bag during the day.

The innovative swags are sewn by prisoners, rolled and packaged by schoolchildren and distributed by community groups and volunteers across Australia.

In 2010, Ms Madden also became the first Australian winner of the world's largest design award, the Index People's Choice Award.



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