Poppy Appeal clash at Albany mall

By Yvonne Tahana

A Poppy Appeal Day volunteer claims he was stopped from fundraising at the Westfield Albany mall.

But Westfield say there was no attempt to stop fundraisers.

Each year the appeal is the RSA's biggest fundraiser for old soldiers, where it aims to meet its $2 million welfare programme costs. Last year three-quarters of that figure was raised.

Engineering student Philip Martin, 19, volunteered last Friday to do an afternoon shift at Westfield.

Mr Martin claims that when he and his collection buddy set up shop he was told by mall management that because a site hadn't been booked he was not allowed to collect - something he disputes.

He also claims managers told him he wasn't collecting in the correct designated space, but when he made a move to go there he was given his marching orders.

"It's just really soulless. You know, this is for the Anzacs, we're collecting for our veterans but because of one little management issue we weren't able to do it. We were down [to collect] for two hours and we spent one and a half arguing."

He said he understood there were good reasons for managing collections, but the "small-minded" decision showed a lack of respect towards soldiers' sacrifices.

"It's important to do it, because they've done so much."

Westfield's Margot Innes said:

"Perhaps the communication was not clear that the person [manager] was asking the RSA member to move to the designated collection place. They were not being asked to refrain from collecting.

Westfield provided free space for community organisations for awareness and fundraising activities but designated areas were needed to meet Health and Safety requirements, she said.

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