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“They were anxious that those who had been adversely affected by bushfire should have much easier access to funds,” the company said.

“Some felt the organisations were disingenuous or had mishandled donations to make financial gains. These participants felt direct assistance and flow of money would be more effective.”

One voter, Vanessa, told the group the money was “not going to the people” and the charities had kept much of the funds.

Another, Salvatore, cited the high salaries at one of the charities, while a third, Steve, said it was all a “scam” and he did not donate.

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A fourth, Rebecca, said: “I don’t have a problem with saving for a future date, as long as no one is going without right now and they could help.”

The comments highlight the challenge for the non-profit groups in assuring Australians their donations are going quickly to those in need.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance, who represents the bushfire-hit electorate of Bega on the state’s south coast, expressed his frustration with the charities on January 20 after hearing from constituents who did not get help.

The charities have defended their operations and said the money will go to those intended.

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“Every dollar raised for the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal will be used to support the people impacted by the fires. Vinnies will not, and has never, kept funds from disaster appeals for any other work or cause,” St Vincent de Paul said.

Australian Red Cross chief executive Judy Slatyer said on Monday that $127 million had been donated since July last year and the charity was now spending about $1 million a day to assist those affected by the fires.

The flood of donations has come close to $500 million in recent weeks.

David Crowe is chief political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra

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