Two points to note in Rob de Castella’s comments in …

Comment on Pay dispute with Robert de Castella: Alice runner John Bell raises new issues. by John Bell.

Two points to note in Rob de Castella’s comments in the Alice News.
The first is that his claim that I was a “volunteer” is incorrect. In late March 2009 I received a phone call from Deek offering me a job as Project Coach. He actively recruited me. Before that phone call I had no knowledge of the Project. He asked me to set up his Project in Central Australia for a documentary that was proposed to him by film maker Matt Long of Good Oil Films. The Project was Matt Long’s idea. But neither of the two white men had had anything to do with the Aboriginal community, and they were in desperate need of someone with the skills and experience to set it up for them.
Secondly, Deek is incorrect in claiming that “government funds became available afterwards” i.e. after I was sacked on 10 November 2010.
On 7 March 2010 Deek claimed in The Sun Herald that unless he received $500,000 “within the next few months, the Project would have to be abandoned.”
In the article he detailed what he wanted the $500,000 for; it included “salary to pay a full time Project Coach to train the athletes to run fast and far.” That was my job. It was the main reason why I was employed.
Information I have obtained under FOI from DoHA shows that Deek received $187,000 from DoHA on 28 April 2010 and a further $313,000 for the project on 18 October 2010. A total of $500,000.
I worked for the period 1 April 2009 to 10 November 2010. So he got the $500,000 before my employment finished.
I discovered the existence of the $500,000 DoHA grant after I was sacked, a few days after my return from New York on 9 November 2010.
A few weeks later, Deek was to return to the NT to thank the athletes and their communities in December 2010. I emailed him asking him to fund my airfares to accompany him … I dropped it in the email that I now knew about the $500,000. He emailed back to me on 26 November 2010 “JB you are welcome to accompany us at your own expense … by the way, there is no $500,000. More misinformmation? What games are you playing now?”
He cc’d the email to a dozen people in the Project in the NT and at Good Oil Films. Including NT Police.
I am presenting this email evidence at the Tribunal and I will point out his public claim in the Alice News on 18 June 2012 that the money did not become available until after my employment was terminated.
Deek knew I had no money, being on a Comcare fortnightly disability payment, and he knew I could not afford the airfare and accommodation.
I am waiting on an FOI request now with DoHA to obtain details of the Project budget for 2009,2010 and 2011. DoHA has been stalling me for many months. I will know tomorrow. Deek has stated in evidence to the Tribunal that no money was earmarked in the budget for a salary for me. It will be interesting to see if he did or not. If he didn’t I will ask how did he justify the Project to DoHA because grant guidelines state that applicants must have Aboriginal community agreement through consultation. I performed that role.
If he did provide a salary, then the obvious question to be asked is – what did he do with it?
I also have information from a reliable source that DoHA originally rejected his application but it was overridden by direct intervention by Mark Arbib, who went to New York with Deek in 2011 and ran the NY Marathon.
An interesting fact about the departmental funding guidelines for 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 is that they did not allow funding for overseas travel or accommodation under a specific guideline heading “What is NOT Funded” … overseas airfares and accommodation were a one line item under this heading.
Then in 2011/2012 this one line item was conspicuously missing … the year that Mark Arbib went to NY.
I will also give evidence to the Tribunal on Monday that Deek has publicly accused me of being “destructive” and “bringing the Project into disrepute” … all because I lodged a claim with Tribunal that he reneged on a handshake agreement. I am waiting to see now if he will try to get anyone in Alice to give evidence against me.
I have not asked any Aboriginal person in Alice Springs to give evidence on my behalf. I did not want to embroil Alice Springs people, who are dear to my heart, in these issues. Because of racial sensitivities and longtime friendships in a dispute that is essentially between two white men who live in Canberra.
However, four Alice Springs people from the wider community are giving written statements on my behalf. One Aboriginal person from FNQ, the uncle of Catherine Freeman, has also provided written statement of evidence on my behalf. Other Aboriginal people around Australia have offered.
Thank you for publishing this letter. It is very stressful and I have not been feeling well for a long time.
I will keep you informed of the Tribunal outcome.
Kind regards, John Bell
[ED – Mr Bell sent his letter before the tribunal hearing on Monday this week. He asked not to publish it before the tribunal hearing had taken place. We have offered Mr de Castella the right of reply.]

Recent Comments by John Bell

Wakefield insists on Anzac Oval, ignores majority
Seems to me as a former Stott House rezzie long ago that the Melanka block is the perfect tourist spot for a gallery.
But what about the sacred site trees on the Melanka block? Would a space be left for them in the middle of the gallery?
Or have they been cut down? I confess I have not seen the block for a few years.


Martin Luther King III ‘disheartened’ by what he saw in Alice
@ Evelyne Roullet. I am not sure that your reference to this Latin phrase fits the critical grog problem social situation in Alice.
The full Latin phrase is “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam”. Roman statesman Cato the Elder 200 years before Christ was reported by Livy and other historians as saying “furthermore, it is my opinion that Carthage should be destroyed”.
Carthage was Ancient Rome’s major enemy, sitting on its doorstep about three days’ sail away in what is modern day Tunisia. Long after Cato’s death, the Roman army on the Third Punic War left not a stone upon a stone of its rival city, decreeing that nothing was to be built on the site thereafter.
I don’t think anyone envisages the “tap being turned off” completely, leaving not a keg upon a keg in the pubs and takeaways of the Alice.
We have learnt the lesson. Grog is entrenched in the DNA of every race in human culture throughout the world.
We found that out in the western world with Prohibition that will never be revisited in Alice or anywhere else after the failed experiment in the USA of the 1930s.
The trick will always be now to wisely navigate the perils of over-indulgence, especially in our young people of all races and colour who are hammering themselves for whatever reasons with the added beast of drugs.
Like Ancient Rome, the grog solution in Alice will not be built in a day. We just have to keep looking for answers.


Large number of cars vandalised at Araluen
@Josh Davis. Josh. You are being a tad unfair, quite harsh, in fact, on 99.9% of people who have been expressing serious concerns about escalating property and increasingly violent youth behaviour.

No fairminded person has been “heaping endless vitriol” on these kids. They are simply distressed and fearful of what may well happen in the very near future if this massively destructive behaviour does not stop, no matter what the root cause is.

There has to be a balance between opportunities to rehabilitate/reconnect and getting these kids to take responsibility for their own actions.

They have to be taught, if they do not know already, that the consequences of their anarchic behaviour cause serious hurt and deep stress to victims and their families. Invariably.

In many cases the nameless victims they target suffer far more than the kids who are doing the damage.

Taking personal responsibility and growing up to be good citizens knows no cultural boundaries. All cultures must apply the same standards to be met by their youth.

If these kids can simply be taken back to talk to the victims they have hurt, every time, I believe the light will eventually switch on for all except the smallest minority in every culture who may never wish to change or give a toss.

It would also be comfort for the victims and conducive to better understanding and better relations between the feared and the fearful.


Large number of cars vandalised at Araluen
Is the Alice a very sad place now, or am I just imagining it?
So many locals and former locals of the Baby Boomer generation have been saying to me that these are the most depressing and awful of times compared with the Alice of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
It seems to me that racial issues now take second place to the sheer lawlessness of Alice youth out of control.
The relevant authorities, both black and white, appear unable to stem the overwhelming tide of youthful social anarchy, let alone define and isolate the real reasons, far less coming up with any answers.
Where to now, Alicians?


A life in flowers: new account of the extraordinary Olive Pink
In a letter of thanks to Dan Conway and the staff of NTA District Office in Hartley Street in 1969 for remembering her birthday on St Patricks Day with a bunch of flowers, Miss Pink fondly recalled her favourite flower from when she was a little girl in Tasmania.
Primrose forget-me-nots.
Miss Pink used the term “Alician” to describe herself.
Thank you, Ms Ward, for this lovely tribute to a great Alician, a true Lady of the Red Heart who loved all flowers.


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