14 January 2014

QSKC The darkest hour

Please be advised, this entry has a local focus and is a departure from the usual posts on this blog.
*Updates have been added at the end of this post*

I apologise to those who have already read this posting but due to lies STILL being posted on forums and told to my sea kayaking friends here and overseas, I am reposting it.

The ongoing character slurs by members of the QSKC & some of their NSW & Tasmanian counterparts must have good people wondering what is up here in Australia. So, while I have moved on from this rubbish and enjoy a much deeper connection with the sport and other kayakers around the world, this is reposted for the benefit of the locals who are asking questions because of recent postings on forums & conversations.

I am not sure what psychological high these people get from telling lies and gossiping about others. I actually dont really care, these people are not the ones I choose to spend energy on. They say they are warning people about me in the interest of sea kayaking - well, imagine if they focused  on the sport of kayaking and talked about the pleasure that gives them instead of talking rubbish about people behind their backs.

Unfortunately, in the last couple of years I have heard from other women in the SK community who have had similar incidents with the same offender.

Women seeking instruction should check out the instructors history, ask other women who have been instructed by them. Take a friend. Trust your instincts. And, most important, at the FIRST sign of inappropriate speech or behaviour REPORT him not just to the club, but to the Police.

QSKC The Darkest Hour
In my opinion, the current committee of QSKC is formed by a majority of deceitful hypocrites.

There, I said it!
Now I finally can.

I am no longer associated with the Qld Sea Kayak Club.
Now that I no longer belong to the Club, I don't have to fear censorship, unrelenting judgement and intimidation.

Members of the Committee have waged a "witch hunt" against me since the day that I wanted to expose that I was a victim of sexual harassment during Club trips from a QSKC member, who also happens to be friends with a majority of current Committee members and influential members of the kayaking community in NSW.

I believe the QSKC Committee and Queensland Canoeing have successfully managed to brush under the carpet a very serious incident.
I was not given a fair chance to present my sexual harassment/bullying complaint (1) and have been ill advised by the Qld Canoeing Member Protection Officer on procedures, seemingly so the complaint could be dismissed on technicalities.

As far back as the 2008 QSKC Xmas weekend held at Cotton Tree, I was warned by the then Vice President/Webmaster not to ‘upset’ the current QSKC Secretary and Events Coordinator, or I would be sorry; that they were influential in the sea kayaking community and that I should be very careful.

When I asked exactly what he meant, why I should be careful, he replied because they were close friends of the Club member who had been named by me as a bully and sexual harassment offender.

Since the inception of the 2009/2010 Committee, I believe the QSKC has seen the worst management in its history (2).
The Committee has now terminated my QSKC membership under a self interpreted technicality of the Model Rules, despite my actually having not done anything wrong. Instead of issuing a formal warning or reprimand and disregarding my reply to their Show Cause demand and my substantial contributions to the QSKC and the sport of sea kayaking, they chose to terminate my membership.
But the Committee won't stop at that.
Now they are after the person that brought the sexual harassment matter to their attention: Damiano Visocnik.

Damiano appears to have been a thorn in their backside for a while.
In the best interests of QSKC members, Damiano has exposed several problems within the Club concerning safety and ethical management which were apparently not well received.
Now the Committee wants to terminate his membership on grounds that he was aware that potential profit was to be made from one of the ‘Special Events’
that I organized. They accuse Damiano of breaking alleged Club rules that actually don't exist in the Model Rules.Dilbert.com

So, it seems that while it was OK that Damiano and other Committee members are aware that other Club and Committee members (present and past) make a profit from Club events, suddenly Damiano is breaching Club rules for knowing, after the fact, that Tess Dodd made a potential profit from a Special Event that she organized.

It is OK that past and current Club and Committee members provide a service to members for a profit, but when I organized an event for the Club and, to avoid being out of pocket, quoted a fee to encompass unknown costs, suddenly I am breaking Club rules...

I attended the Committee meeting held on 5th May 2010 where the Qld Canoeing Member Protection Officer advised the Committee that any profits made from Club events were between the Committee and the provider.

The Events Coordinator and one of the recently appointed General Committee Members both argued that it is OK for Club members (one works for Qld Canoeing Inc and the other advertises on the QSKC website) to make a profit from the Club, as they are ‘commercial operators’ who pay tax.

For the record, I have an ABN and declare any profits made from such ventures to the Taxation Department, as I hope do other Club and Committee members who make a profit. But for some reason I’m the only one who has been singled out as breaking an alleged rule somewhere and Damiano is being blamed for that rule breaking (3).

For the ‘Special Event’ in question, held more than 12 months ago, I made all arrangements myself in my own time using my personal phone, email and banking details (as I have previously done for several years with many other groups interested in participating in outdoor pursuits eg: Honestly Woman Magazine, BCE Social Club).
The participants in the Special Event (Club and Non Club members) were advised of the cost of the event and asked to deposit the monies into my personal bank account, NOT the QSKC bank account or through the Events Coordinator. Invoices and expenses were paid from my personal bank account.

My accountant and the Aust Dept of Taxation are the only ones who are aware of any profits made from any ventures I am involved in. While Damiano (and others) is aware of some of my activities, he does not have full disclosure of my financial matters.

The Committee refuses to acknowledge this and has deemed Damiano to have breached club rules and are now asking him to ‘show cause’ why his QSKC membership shouldn't be terminated.

In light of the Committee's decision to pursue Damiano, I believe it's fair that all Club and Committee members making a profit from events (that the Events Coordinator promotes for Club members), or who know of this, should also be asked to show cause.

If I want to remain a member of the QSKC I need to lodge an appeal to be heard by interested Club members during a general meeting.
During the past 12 months I have been informed by Club members that they have been told slanderous tales about me by serving Committee members.
Present and past members had already been told that I would be kicked out at the next meeting, before the verdict.
As it appears the termination of my membership was premeditated to further personal agendas, I do not believe at this time I would be afforded an unbiased audience for a fair appeal.

(1) - 3rd Feb 2007 QSKC Mudcrab Madness trip - exposing genitals to me, then urinating. Making sexually suggestive remarks to a female visitor at camp.
Feb 2007 - Aug 2007 – Hearing my name called and looking over to see him expose his genitals to me, which on one occasion he was fondling.
Aug 2007 – QSKC Fraser Island Whale Watch trip - while heavily intoxicated, exposing genitals to me during the trip and sharing graphic details of sex life. Asking if I knew the meaning of certain sexual terms. When I asked him to stop he continued and as I walked away, he followed me insisting I HAD to hear it.
Oct 2008 - While serving as Club President, I received abusive and threatening phone calls which I ended and reported to the Committee and the Qld Canoeing Member Protection Officer.
The member resigned soon after but has since rejoined the Club and is now in a position of power as a Committee Member.

(2) -The elected President resigned after a very public outburst slandering me on the Club member email group.
The elected Webmaster resigned with a pending grievance against him for discrimination and bullying.

(3) - As Events Coordinator at the time of the ‘Special Event’, Damiano was responsible for taking registrations from Club and Non Club Members interested in the ‘Special Event’ advertised on the QSKC website, just as the previous and current Events Coordinator is.

Additional supporting substantiating material available on request to interested parties by private email.
" I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell."
Harry S Truman, Apr. 3, 1956

UPDATE 11th June 2010 -
I have been notified by a QSKC member that financial members have been provided with information regarding my ‘show cause’ and have been advised of an appeal date.

This came as a surprise to me as I received no communication from the Committee regarding the appeal prior to this.
I believe this to be yet another example of the steamroller (bullying) tactics employed by this Committee.
Would it not be wise to advise the parties involved BEFORE advising club members?
Would it not be wise to confirm with the parties involved IF they are available on a specific date?

Perhaps scheduling a meeting (at short notice) at a time and place that is unsuitable to most members is to the Committee’s advantage?
I reiterate my earlier statement – given the demonstrated questionable behaviour of the so called ‘Management’ Committee (who are charged with representing the best interest of the club and its members, NOT their own agenda’s) in regard to this matter and others, I find it difficult to believe I would be given a fair hearing.
QSKC smear campaign policy

- create a chat group that is distributed to all members private email addresses without prior permission from the members (breach of privacy)

- accuse and defame individuals publicly

- if the accused tries to present their side of the story, ban them from the chat group

- when other members step in to question the Committee or defend the accused, ban and delete all evidence of conversations relevant to the matter

- since that was not enough, terminate the accused membership

It appears that the QSKC has adopted an autocratic style of management, peddling propaganda and censorship.

The authority (QSKC Committee) creates unethical means for communicating the agenda they want to pursue, while eliminating any possible democratic conversation. Members wishing to ask questions or make comment are invited to email Committee members, who do not reply.
As a former Web Master (who resigned before he could be terminated) would answer to controversial/and any other issues put to him: "End of discussion..."
The QSKC Committee creates ‘policies’ to further their own agenda. This is done without consulting members or advising them of their introduction. Records and files have been deleted and meeting minutes contain omissions and bias.
No wonder the Committee so adamantly opposed the voice recording of those meetings.


  1. Tess, you forgot to mention that the very individuals that asked me to Show Cause have also requested to have the alleged surplus money deposited into THEIR personal accounts.
    So, do I sense some hypocrisy here or is the current QSKC Committee way out of line?

  2. Tess - Sorry to hear such disturbing news; just speak the truth and hold your head high.

  3. I was present at the last Club Committee meeting and I witnessed discrepancies in meeting record keeping first hand. I believe the official minutes of the meetings are biased and incomplete.
    The Secretary appears to "personalise" facts and omit important events that occur at the meetings.
    My case was erroneously recorded so that an external observer would get a different picture of what really occurred.
    Further events have seen names omitted from records in the interests of 'protecting the identity' of the accused.
    While I see the motive for this discrepancy is to protect the Committee's friends, it is NOT an accurate or fair recording of the facts.
    I believe that in the interest of QSKC members, the voice recordings of those meetings should be made available to concerned members.
    By the way, the Committee is adamant that the voice recording is illegal, which is incorrect.
    If Club members are interested in hearing the recording, please contact me privately.

  4. Yikes! I guess the recent political intrigue surrounding a bit of censorship on our local kayak club discussion board really pales in comparison. Club officers chose to delete a lengthy discussion in regard to a safety incident that occurred on a recent club trip. The discussion in question was spirited, but civil. It was really nothing more than a straight forward after-incident debrief, but it apparently was not well received by those in authority, so said incident magically disappeared. In the scheme of things it was nothing compared to the initial sexual harassment you had to endure or the on-going harassment from your club's board. I now remember you trying to bring up some of these issues on www.paddling.net last year, but for some reason Brett kept on censoring your positings. I am still not sure why. I really hope this all works out for you and I wish you the best in all your future kayaking endeavors. Sincerely, Joe G.

  5. Joe G, the icing on this toxic cake is that the person who harrassed and bullied me in the first place, is now a Club Committee member. One can only hope that lessons have been learned and he does not repeat his abuse of authority, but there is a saying 'leopards don't change their spots'. With regard to the original harrassment, the ongoing bullying and abuse of power the the Committee, the governing bodies of this sport appear to only be interested if the issues affect their bottom line ie: income.
    In view of my experiences, I am not surprised that your safety incident discussion'disappeared'. Reflective, civilised discussion is a great tool for learning and resolving issues. It is not something to be feared. Maybe one day the 'authorities' will see that. Thank you for your comment and your good wishes.

  6. Tess, I was reading through your blog and came to this post. I can hardly believe in this day and age that sexual harassment is tolerated and that perps are protected--in a kayaking club! Well, as others have said, speak truth and hold your head high.

  7. Tess, I tried to comment earlier but couldn't make it post. So I'll try again. I'm really sorry to hear all this has happened to you. This is one reason I don't join organizations!

    In the Tsunami Rangers, everyone speaks truth.

  8. Thank you for your comments Eric. If everyone adhered to the same code of honesty as the Rangers (& others who have commented), issues like this would not become the festering sore this has become.

  9. As a kayaker and father of two daughters, I am deeply saddened that such events have occured in our community. Aside from what has happened since, there is absolutely no room for sexual harassment any where any time. I am glad to see that you have local supporters who will stand with you. Stay the course. Cheeers.

  10. Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught. ~J.C. Watts