Well you all know by know how upset Hetty Johnston got when I exposed the 27 grand a year she receives in rent from Bravehearts so that the charity can use her private investment property as an office. Oh yeah, she was p*ssed alright, so goddamn upset that the child protection champion interrupted her tropical island holiday to call a prominent child sex abuse victim (moi) a pedophile’s ally and friend.
She’s all class our Hetty isn’t she?
Well if that was her reaction to a story exposing something that was picked up from the charity’s annual accounts, you can only imagine what how Hetty’s going to explode about this story because we’ve just copped a firm tip that the Bravehearts founder is running around the country in business class airline seats giving lectures about child protection at $7500 a pop.
And putting the whole seven and a half grand paid to her personally each time straight into her back sky rocket (pocket).
Surely not you cry! You can’t use your professional role to go and talk about stuff your organisation does or information it’s found for personal gain can you? Especially not during working time, and particularly not when you are working for a publicly funded charity. Not even bloody union bosses do that; even they pass the fees back to their not-for-profit organisation (or most of them do anyway).
Not Hetty though. Say it ain’t so Joe, say it ain’t so! Sorry son, but it is. Hetty speaking fees don’t get passes to Bravehearts like heroes pass on fees in the movies my boy. This is real life, and they go WHOOSH! straight into the great woman’s personal and private bank account, or at least that’s what I’m told.
With my dearly missed old Mum’s words ringing in my head – ‘Never believe anything you’re told son, especially when it involves a hothead with something to hide who has free lawyers on tap’ – I rushed to the filing cabinet to pull out the Bravehearts annual reports so I could check the veracity of the hot tip, and see if my deep throat wasn’t simply mistaken, and the speaking fees declared in the charity’s financial statements.
My deep throat wasn’t mistaken.
This tipster rarely is (although deepy did have one hiccup when he put momentarily put Del in a relationship with a squeaky voiced long-time political hack, before the throatster came to their – the new gender fluid word to describe a punter, according to the Captain – senses and realised that Del’s new fella’s a bit more buff than the hack, and came from a different pedigree).
Hetty’s trousering the speaking fee cash. Lots of it. In fact 4 times what an Olympic Gold medalist who doesn’t work for a charity would cop for giving exactly the same speech, or perhaps even one quite a bit longer, given that the divine miss Johnston’s don’t seem to stretch much past 20 minutes.
My first thought was ‘Fair suck of the sav , that’s a bit bloody rich isn’t it?’
My second was ‘Well if she’s copping that much for a quick natter to a crowd, Hetty probably is too’. Rich that is.
Then the third was ‘She’s giving a lot of these speeches in work time, and traveling all around the country in business class to and from many of the speaking venues between 9 and 5 on a Monday to Friday, and driving in the Bravehearts car to most of the others. Is this bloody kosher that she’s keeping the cash for herself?’
And finally I thought ‘What about the poor bloody kiddies? How many lion videos could we show ’em for seven and a half grand?’
‘Motivated by an agenda to prevent and address child abuse, and knowing that Bravehearts needs a stack of dough to pay the lions to help them do it – because Hetty told us all so – I raced for the lawbooks to try and suss out the lay of the lawful cash-trousering land.
First up I looked at the Bravehearts constitution and turned to Section 44(b) titled Director’s Interests, and this is what it said:
Each Director must comply with Corporations Act in relation to the disclosure of
the Director’s interests.
Passing the buck, that’d be right. Oh well, over to the Corporations Act, but no luck there either, they pass the buck too.
So to the ACNC – Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission – Act (Commonwealth) of 2012. and it passes the buck too. This hot potato business is becoming a bit of an epidemic, but I’m on a mission to get to the bottom of all this so over the regulations I go, and bingo! Finally I find what we we’re all after: Regulation 45.25, Governance Standard 5, Duties of Responsible Entities.
I take a quick trip back to Chapter 8 of the ACNC Act to check out the definitions, and satisfy myself that Hetty’s a responsible Entity – according to the law anyway – and then it’s back to Regulation 45.25 and this is how it starts:
Now I’m no legal beagle, but I watched Dirty Dyson bang on about it enough in the Trade Union Royal Commission to understand that a fiduciary duty is a punter’s legal obligation to act in the best interests of another punter who trusts them to do so. Think of a Director of a company and their responsibility to the outfit’s shareholders, or if it’s a not for profit joint then to its members. Hey that’s not a bad example is it?
The question to ask is this: is Hetty acting in the best interests of Bravehearts by running around in work time using work resources to go and give speeches about the exact topic that Bravehearts specialises in – using facts and figures that Bravehearts have paid researchers to compile – and then slipping the seven and a half large into her own skyrocket?
I dunno about you, but I don’t think so. After Hetty hasn’t been invited to these joints to speak about her former career as a secretary, or her numerous failed attempts at politics; she’s been asked along to talk about child protection, and the organisers chose her because of the profile that she has established through her work with Bravehearts.
All roads lead back to Bravehearts.
The speaking fees should be going back too.
And what about the bit about giving members and donors confidence that the registered entity – that’s Bravehearts again – is acting to get Hetty to hand over the dough. Simply put there can’t be any, because they’re not.
Why not? Who knows. But they bloody should be.
What about this one? Standard 5, Part 2:
Can anyone argue that $7 500 a chat going into Hetty’s bank account rather than the charity’s is in Bravehearts best interests, particularly given that its founder is forever putting the bite on good-hearted souls to donate to the organisation so it can do more to save the kiddies with lions?
I doubt that you can, just as I doubt that anyone in Hetty Johnston’s shoes could argue that they are discharging their duties with care and diligence by undertaking speaking engagements on work time and not passing over the cash they are paid as a fee.
Is it a misuse of Hetty paid position with Bravehearts? I’ll leave you to make your own judgement; I already know what mine is.
The guts of the whole thing is this: Hetty Johnston, despite commonly held opinion – and indeed her own – is not Bravehearts, she is the founder of Bravehearts. If the organisation can address all of the in my view very suspect practices that Hetty appears to have put in place, and avoid losing all its’ funding in the process, it will continue to send lions out to kindy’s and schools long after she is gone, just as Apple has continued to make iPhones since Steve Jobs died, or the Scouts have carried on molesting young men long after old Baden-Powell departed the scene.
Bravehearts is an organisation, not a fiefdom, and it has legally enforceable obligations and responsibilities to its members, its donors and sponsors, its funding agencies, and ultimately to us, the mug punters of Queensland, for at the end of the day it’s our cash that is paying the Bravehearts bills and putting the petrol in Hetty’s car so that she can drive to the speaking engagements and collect 2 months of an average sportsfan’s wage for less than an hour’s work.
Hetty needs to do the right thing and pay us back. C’mon luv, lay bare your speaking schedule over the past 10 years, slap the account book on the table, work out how much you’ve trousered, and write out a check. You might have to sell one of your investment properties to pay for it, but I guarantee you’ll feel all the better for it, after you get over the shock.
If you don’t pay it back Hetty, you’ll be a lion too.