Charity event organisers are usually crying out for publicity to raise awareness and funds for their chosen cause, but not Salim Mehajer and his younger sister, Mary.
Persistent calls and emails by Fairfax Media this week about the pair’s The Sparkle of Hope Charity Ball to take place at Paradiso in Fairfield, Sydney, on Sunday night were met with silence.
Mary, 18, otherwise known as Miss Lebanon , is organising the ball in aid of the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation (SCHF) and the Ren?? Moawad Foundation(RMF) in Lebanon with help from her sibling, 30, the disgraced former deputy mayor of Auburn, in promoting the event.
They promise an “amazing night with special guest speakers, entertainers, topped by a glamorous fashion show” with a “strictly glitz and glam” dress code.
To attend alongside the controversial family, who are known for their OTT soirees, does not come cheap. A sponsorship package costs up to $15,000, while individual seats are priced between $120 and $160. The family have promised “100% of the proceeds will go towards charity”.
To encourage patrons to dig deep, Mother Theresa is quoted on the ball’s designated website: “Do small things with great love.”
It seems that collecting funds in aid of “children who are less fortunate” in the name of the SCHF and RMF was more important for the Mehajers than getting the mandatory legal authorisation to do so first.
On March 13, Salim took to Instagram to reveal that half of the 350 tickets on offer were already sold. A week later Mary approached the SCHF, when she took a tour of the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick, and was given the relevant authority to fundraise application form.
On March 31, she was granted the authorisation to raise funds on behalf of the SCHF – at least two weeks after she was already doing so. Mary did not specify how much they endeavoured to raise, but a spokesperson for the SCHF said “that’s not uncommon for first-time events”.
A number of esteemed, high-profile people have helped raise funds for the SCHF in the past, including Skye Leckie, Karl Stefanovic, Lisa Wilkinson, Delta Goodrem, Jesinta Franklin and Sonia Kruger.
It was put to the SCHF if they felt comfortable aligning themselves with Salim, who in the past week alone was charged with assaulting a taxi driver and a Seven News reporter; and was mentioned in a pretrial for allegedly lodging false documents in a bid to rig the Auburn Council election in 2012.
“Our contact is with Mary Mehajer, who has shown a genuine concern for the children in the hospital,” a spokesperson for the SCHF told Fairfax Media.
While the SCHF is entitled to authorise a fundraising appeal in their name in NSW, the Ren?? Moawad Foundation is not, according to a spokesperson from NSW Fair Trading.
Multiple attempts by Fairfax Media to contact the RMF, whose mission is to “promote social, economic and rural development in Lebanon”, were unsuccessful.
“Boards of charities have responsibility for a charity’s most treasured resource – its reputation and the trust of the community. They should consider how fundraising activities will affect their charity’s reputation,” a spokesperson for the n Charities and Not-for-profits Commission said.