14 December 2009

Club matters

I apologies to my readers if this post is not of global interest but I have an issue that I believe needs to made public in the best interest of my fellow paddlers.

After my first year of sea kayaking I wanted to further my skills and meet like minded people.
I sought to join a group or club that would offer me camaraderie and some new knowledge/skills.
In 2005 I joined the Queensland Sea Kayak Club.
I still remember the welcoming feel from the members and the down to earth approach to sea kayaking that the Club had at this time.
After a few years of general membership I thought that it would be fair to “give back” to the members that made me a better paddler.
I advanced my skills and undertook training to become a trip leader of sanctioned Club paddles (QSKC advocates for structured safe paddling pods).
I lead numerous trips from single day ones to several week expeditions.
I further involved myself with QSKC by serving on the Committee first as Events Coordinator and later as Vice President.
Unfortunately as it happens in most Clubs of independent thinkers sometimes there is a clash of personalities.
Opinions and agendas might differ and occasionally they results in conflict.
Recent events at my Club have escalated to the point that I have been publicly accused of wanting to ruin the Club (1).
It puzzles me how some members who have only been in the club for such a short period of time (including committee members whom I have supported personally) have suddenly started to spread rumours and/or unfounded gossip against me.
As such I feel, members of the Committee have not been acting fairly and in my humble opinion not in the best interest of the Club.
Moreover, official communication amongst members started to become censored (2) and records of communication deleted (3).
The record of minutes of Committee meetings also have became incomplete and bias.
The Committee meetings became secret with Club members no longer being permitted to attend (4).
Not entirely happy with the developments and accusations towards me I had to take drastic measures to ensure that in later days, I could not be accused of wrong doing.
I decided to voice record the Committee meetings that I was present at.
I was faced with opposition and was denied the ability to record meetings because this right was apparently deemed illegal by the Committee (despite it being a statutory right, see below).
It was revealing when at the recent meeting I was met with total disdain from the Committee when I voice recorded the event.
While accusations of illegal activity was again mentioned I reminded them that my doings were actually supported by Qld Law (5) and was to keep accountability in play whilst ending unfounded bias slurs against fellow members.

My question however remains: if the Committee did not want other members to attend the meeting and did not want me to record the meeting, what really was going on?
Why the secrets? It makes me suspicious as there is little transparency and a souring lack of accountability from elected members.
Surely the Club members would be interested to know why the current Committee is acting in this manner.
Censoring communication, deleting records and refusing a voice record of their meetings seems suspicious to me. I believe Club members deserve better.

I am aware that many new members have been the recipients of gossip and the smear campaign against me.
Club members that have been around as long as I have will probably know that my intentions are to make the Club thrive.
A Club that has offered me so much is worthy of my contribution.
I want to maintain a Club where paddlers have a choice of activities, a choice of varied skill level outings, and a choice of instructors.
I want the Club to remain the hub of activity for all levels where novices and more experienced paddlers are catered for.
So while some newcomers are accusing me of trying to ruin the Club for two years in the row, my involvement in the Club and my ethically based leadership of trips speaks volumes.
It’s up to the reader to form his/her opinion now.
And next time you hear rumors, with a healthy level of scepticism, ask for some facts instead of just mud!

(1) public accusation on Club's Google Group on 07DEC:
>>… Tess, Dom and your dwindling band of supporters you need to bury youregos and your personal dislikes and realise you had the opportunity todo something with the QSKC when you were the committee but didnothing… The QSKC is all butdestroyed again because of you actions. I hope you are proud ofyourselves, wrecking a club twice in as many years is no mean feat.<<
however Mark Priestley on 18NOV asked:>>…. For the long term good of the organisation and the sport and recreation of canoeing, it is also about a decision for all to cease and never to discuss publicly or in writing the types of matters everyone is buying into… <<
(2) records of the above public email were deleted at a later date after they were publicly posted. Any reply from the accused (Tess Dodd) was refused to be posted making it appear that the accused was acting guilty.
(3) Some records of trip write ups are missing from the QSKC website.
(4) Club Member Ken Doy received this email on 07DEC:
>> Hi Ken,We have had advice from Mark Priestley at Queensland Canoeing that given the situation at hand regarding the electing of an Interim President it is recommended to only have current committee members present at our meeting this Thursday…<<
(5) legislation that the Committee is aware of and denies: Invasion of Privacy Act 9171 http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/I/InvasOfPrivA71.pdf granting the right to record conversations whilst you are a participant in that conversation.

"I think there is a good reason why the propaganda system works. It recognises that the public will not support the actual policies, therefore it is important to prevent any knowledge or understanding of them by redirecting their interest'.
Avram Noam Chomsky


  1. Not knowing all the details it is hard to understand, but I would like to offer my support for your position on open communication and transparency - without this how can trust exist? It is unfortuante how often volunteers become embroiled in this types of dispute rather than focus on the mission of the "club".
    Keep paddling, keep smiling and keep helping others enjoy the sport...
    I dont care what they say - you are adding value to my life and improving my paddling experince through your OPEN communications and blog.
    Best wishes for the holidays.

  2. What Christopher said. There seems to be a basic issue involving integrity here. Folks who are honest and interested in the greater good do not hide in secrecy and certainly do not alter or delete historical documents...unless, of course, they are ashamed of what those documents contain. I see this as a wonderful opportunity for you to strengthen your self resolve and to model accountability and service to the others. Doing so, while being true to self, is where it is all at. End of sermon.

  3. 100% behind you Gnarlydog! If the meeting is about the club, then it is about its members and I for one am curious to know what they are saying at official meetings regarding us.

  4. Hey Knarly dog. Good on you to stand up for your values and for the common decency of volunteering. Having been involved in my club I know exactly where you are coming from and it kind if amazes me that these issues are spread across the globe. More times than not previous board members are quite vocal when they feel some of their historical work is threatened. They feel a loss of their contribution rather than buying into the process of change and progression. I would much rather be remembered for contributing than for most of what I contributed simply because contributions of succeeding members will be different and we have to work with the knowledge that we did the best we could with what we had at the time. Volunteer work is a lot of times a lbour of love and some unfortunately do not share the labour and merely sit on the sidelines and critique, which is fine in itself if constructive however distructive criticism has no place no where. Volunteer boards are all about transparency. If you cannot reveal your minutes to anyone let a lone your members then the rules and regulations regarding volunteer boards are broken and like I like to say in our club what could kayakers' possibly have to hide??? Great for you to be open on your blog. Keep up the excellent work because someone out there will be benefitting from your many contributions whether they acknowledge it or not. I have and I am not in your club nor do I often acknowledge that I do and I am a world away. ;-) Stan

  5. Since this blog posting I have received email communication from Mark Priestley stating that I am not to release any details what so ever of the meeting.
    There are no legal bases for Marks statements as the meeting naturally effects all members of the Club and I feel some of you at least have a right to know what was said. I’m in deliberations with the Club as to how to best manage this impasse.
    At this stage, if you have any queries as to why I am being unnecessarily restricted from letting anyone know what happened during the meeting, please feel free to ask Mark why.

  6. and here is a link to Mongrel's view on the Club:


    Now I seem to understand why he refused the "life membership" offer just after he got back from the Hinchinbrook trip in August.

  7. Jeez......I kayak to get away from all this stuff....just another club gone awry...sorry for your troubles Damiano and Tess....unfortunately man is made to fail, step on another's toes etc...hope that you can find some peace in all this mess!


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