Kurnell Allegations – Part 2

rwsqNo explanation has ever been given by the Board for not following the WIRES Constitution and polices when it pursued its members. At no stage did the Board tell those members and the BMC which were being investigated, of the allegations it was investigating, and give them the opportunity to answer what was being alleged. There would not have been the outrage had the WIRES Constitution been followed as members would have had the protection of the WIRES Constitution clause 2.16 (c) which is based on the principles of natural justice; that any person subject to an allegation has a right to know what its substance is and to respond to it. This is a basic right everyone has in this country but the Board of WIRES at the time set out on a path which circumvented, not only its own constitution and policies, but any sense of fair dealing with its members.

Go to topGo straight to commentsAdd a commentPrinciples of Natural Justice

The idea of natural justice is that all people must be treated equally and fairly and without bias when dealt by the legal process. These principles are valued by Australians and have been developed though the common law by the courts to ensure that decisions made by the government, the Courts and public bodies, that affect the rights of individuals, are made fairly. The doctrine is also found in legislation.

The first rule is that a decision maker must afford an opportunity to a person whose interests will be adversely affected by the decision, to answer the allegation. This involves allowing the person to be present to hear the proceedings, to give the person all details of the allegation to be determined, the right to cross examine the person making the allegation and any witnesses, to give evidence in reply and to be allowed to be actively involved in all parts of the proceedings. The second rule is that a decision maker must have no personal interest in the result and be unbiased.

If this is followed, then there will be a fair and proper process.

Private Investigator

The WIRES Board (alone) prepared the information and questions which were given to the private investigator to conduct the investigation. Only the Board instructed him, obtained and read the report, and paid for it.

  • The members that were identified as attending the Practical Bird Skills workshop in March 2009 were contacted by letter from Stan Wood (WIRES Board Chair & CEO). The letter told them that the investigator of these allegations was Peter McMillan and he would be contacting them and that they were required to co-operate. The number of people contacted was a mere 25% of those who attended. There were 20 people (including trainers) who attended the course.
  • The first major question is why didn’t the Board ask the investigator to speak to everyone that attended or the privately owned company who ran the workshop?
  • The members contacted by Stan Wood were not told that they themselves were also being investigated as part of the enquiry. Bill Fortier (WIRES current chair) was on the board at the time. He had been a police officer and would have known that it was very wrong to ask someone to co operate with an investigator but not be told that they were also being investigated.
  • Peter McMillan is the principal of Peter McMillan Consulting Pty Ltd whose clients include Racing Victoria and the RSPCA. McMillan works from home in regional Victoria. He was a detective with the Victoria Police for twenty seven years and holds a security license for Victoria. It would appear that Peter McMillan did not have a licence to operate in NSW and when he was asked by members being questioned by him to show his authority, McMillan became aggressive and irate. At least two if the members interviewed stated that they were never shown authority by McMillan.

Identified members were contacted by Peter McMillan and meetings arranged. He travelled to and from Sydney and flew around the state a number of times to visit members in their homes. It is alleged that some members interviewed by McMillan were mis-led into believing that by “talking they would be helping Chris Lloyd”. McMillan stated that “this is a big case”. The interview took the form of a series of questions which were aimed at getting the member to give evidence against Chris Lloyd and others on the teaching of the Practical Bird Skills workshop. Part of this process involved showing the member a folder with at least five “tabs” to imply that there was specific evidence that could have been provided to the relevant authority (RSPCA). The finalised statements were prepared by Peter McMillan and then given to members to sign. Members said that they looked like an affidavit, but they were inaccurate as they did not follow what was said in the interviews and they contained inconsistencies. Some members refused to sign them. Members felt pressured into making statements by McMillan and some members in despair at the treatment they received gave their resignations to McMillan, to be given to the WIRES Board.

Beyond the Constitution and Polices

No satisfactory explanation has ever been given as to why the WIRES Board claimed the allegations were serious yet left them without taking any action for over one and half years after they received notice. Members of the WIRES Board have suggested that the reason was they lacked clear evidence until they were provided with a written statement by Sharlene Lane. This does not stand up as the RSPCA will act on a verbal complaint,if an informant gives his/her details. The informant’s personal details are kept confidential by the law enforcement officer to the extent that a magistrate is asked to protect the identity of the informant, if the matter is prosecuted in the Local Court. The only evidence that appears to have been used was statements and photographs which were available in 2009 when the complaint was made. The evidence remained unchanged from the original complaint to the subsequent investigation.

Even if the RSPCA couldn’t or wouldn’t investigate, why didn’t the Board act under the WIRES Constitution, which is clear on the process for dealing with internal disputes? The relevant clause in full is here quoted:

2.16 Disciplining of Member

(a) A Member’s complaint to the BMC about a Member must be in writing, stating the complaint and giving evidence that the Member:

(i) has persistently refused or neglected to comply with this document or any policies, by-laws, rules or regulations of the Association; or

(ii) has persistently and willfully acted in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the Association, its members, staff or management; or

(iii) has breached WIRES Code of Conduct.

(b) The BMC may determine that a member:

(i) has persistently refused or neglected to comply with this document or any policies, by-laws, rules or regulations of the Association; or

(ii) has persistently and willfully acted in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the Association, its members, staff or management; or

(iii) has breached WIRES Code of Conduct.

(c) In consideration of such a complaint, the BMC or Board:

(i) must cause written notice of the complaint to be served on the Member concerned;

(ii) must give the Member at least 14 days from the time the notice is served within which to make submissions to the relevant committee in relation to the complaint; and

(iii) must take into consideration any submissions made by the Member in relation to the complaint.

(d) For any complaint referred to a BMC, the BMC must consider the complaint and any submissions made in relation to the complaint. If the BMC is satisfied that the facts alleged in the complaint have been proved, then the BMC may:

(i) censure the Member concerned; or

(ii) refer the complaint to the Board with recommendations.

(e) For any complaint referred to the Board, the Board (or a sub-committee delegated by the Board) must consider the complaint and any submissions made in relation to the complaint. The Board must then pass a resolution as to whether the complaint has been proven. If the Board determines that the facts have not been proven the member and the BMC must be informed by written notice within 14 days of the resolution being made. If the Board is satisfied that the facts alleged in the complaint have been proved, then the Board may:

(i) censure the Member concerned; or

(ii) suspend the Membership of the Member; or

(iii) expel the Member from Membership of the Association; or

(iv) take any other action deemed necessary.

(f) Where a member has been found to have committed a deliberate act of cruelty against a native animal, their name and any documents pertaining to the complaint will be referred to the appropriate legal body e.g. DEC or RSPCA.

(g) If the Board suspends or expels a Member, the Secretary of the Board must, within14 days after the action is taken because written notice to be given to the Member and the BMC:

(i) of the action taken by the Board;

(ii) of the reasons given by the Board for having taken that action, and

(iii) of the Member's rights of appeal under rule 2.17.

(h) The suspension or expulsion does not take effect:

(i) until the expiration of the period within which the Member is entitled to appeal against the resolution concerned; or

(ii) if within that period the Member exercises the right of appeal, unless and until the Association confirms the resolution, whichever is the later.

(i) Once the expulsion takes effect, the Secretary of the Board must:

(i) make an appropriate entry in the Register recording the date on which the Member ceased to be a Member;

(ii) notify the Branch of the final decision, and

(iii) if the Member was an Authorized Member - notify the DEC (NPWS).

(j) A person whose Membership has been suspended has all his or her rights, powers and entitlements, but not obligations, suspended for the period of the suspension.

(k) A person who has been expelled from Membership is not eligible to re-apply for Membership of the Association.

2.17 Right of appeal of disciplined Member

(a) The appeal process must first take place at the Branch level, after the BMC has decided disciplinary action is necessary.

(b) Where the Board resolves to take disciplinary action, the Board will provide an appeal process.

(c) Where disciplinary action is initiated by the BMC or Board, then within 14 days of service of notice on a Member under rule 2.16(f), the Member may appeal to the BMC or the Board against the decision by lodging with the Secretary of either a written notice to that effect.

(d) The notice may, but need not, be accompanied by a statement of the grounds on which the Member intends to rely for the purposes of the appeal.

(e) On receipt of a notice from a Member under sub rule (a), the BMC or Board must within 28 days, appoint a sub-committee to hear the appeal within 60 days of receipt of the notice from the member. The appeal sub-committee must consist of no less than three members of the Association.

(f) At the appeal hearing:

(i) the BMC or the Board and the Member must be given the opportunity to state their respective cases orally or in writing, or both; and

(ii) the members present are to vote by secret ballot on the question of whether the resolution should be confirmed or revoked.

(g) If at the appeal hearing an Ordinary Resolution is passed in favour of the confirmation of the decision, then the BMC or Board's decision is upheld. In the event that the BMC’s disciplinary action is upheld, then this will be referred to the Board for ratification. The Board’s decision will be final.

Board behaving badly

Many questions were raised by members to obtain clarification of the process used by the WIRES Board on the Kurnell investigation but they were ignored, blocked or deflected.

The WIRES South branch WSC representative submitted a series of questions to the WIRES Board (see below) and later an agenda item for the October 2010 WSC. Both Chamberlain and De Lacey, the WSC rep and alternate were both participants in the March workshop but were never interviewed. There was some frustration at the treatment of WSC members in attempting to get answers to questions in between meetings. And members and branches associated with Chris Lloyd were treated with contempt by the WIRES Board.

The email from South Branch WSC Rep was sent to Chair Stan Wood and cc’d all WSC Councilors.

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: Item raised at the WSC General Meeting 10th August 2010

Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2010 14:25:51 +1100

From: Steve Chamberlain

To: Stan Wood

CC: (all current WSC reps)

Dear Stan

At the WSC meeting of 10th August 2010 you raised an item (referred to in the Draft Minutes for that meeting under 8 - "POCTA matter") that outlined an allegation made by a WIRES member of an act of animal cruelty allegedly perpetrated by another WIRES member, and as a result of this item you requested the endorsement of the WSC for the Board's "further investigation" of that matter. In this vein, I also bring to your attention a matter raised at the October 2009 WSC meeting (under 7.8 of the ratified Minutes of same) which, while not obviously related, turns out to be one and the same issue. I am at a loss to understand why the Board has not informed Council of progress on this issue since it was first mentioned over a year ago and given the seriousness of the allegation as described.

On the basis of the above and the information contained in the prepared statement given to the WSC on behalf of the Board at the August WSC meeting, I put a number of questions which require your immediate response.

1. At what point did the Board inform the alleged perpetrator of the nature and facts of the allegation made against them?

2. Assuming that the Board did properly and fully inform the person against whom the allegation was made of the facts of the matter:

(a) what steps did the Board take to ensure that this WIRES member was given their constitutional right to state their case to any committee appointed to arbitrate the matter?

(b) If no such committee was appointed, what was the outcome of any arbitration or mediation procedure that was referred to a Community Justice Centre, in accordance with WIRES Inc's statutory responsibilities under the Community Justice Centers Act 1983 (NSW)?

3. What unresolved matters in the outcomes of 1. and/ or 2. above were sufficiently serious to persuade the Board to pursue this matter beyond both the rights afforded it by the WIRES Constitution and/ or the Associations Incorporation Act and its subordinate Regulation?

4. Given that the Board knew of this allegation and its substance in mid- to late 2009 at the latest (as Council was informed in October 2009), why did the Board not take legal advice or otherwise act upon an allegation of serious misconduct by one of its members before the Statute of Limitations for the relevant Act (the PoCTA Act) took effect?

5. Given the statement delivered to the WSC in August 2010 (to the effect that the RSPCA did not consider the matter worthy of investigation in 2009):

(a) why did the Board nevertheless decide it was worth pursuing it, and

(b) given it was deemed serious enough to ignore RSPCA views, why did the Board wait so long before acting that the Statute of Limitations period for the PoCTA Act had already taken effect?

6. Notwithstanding your answers to the questions raised in 1. to 5. above, and even if we allow that this is a matter sufficiently serious to warrant further investigation (as you clearly stated was the case to Council in August 2010) beyond the jurisdiction of the Associations Incorporation Act (and its Regulations) *and* the WIRES Constitution *and* the Community Justice Centres Act 1983, and on top of that assuming that all relevant WIRES disciplinary procedures (as set out in the WIRES Constitution and the Grievance Policy) have been faithfully adhered to, please provide responses to the following:

(a) Why did you not inform Council of your or the Board's intention to appoint an external investigator?

(b) why did you not inform Council as to the scope of the brief to be issued to this investigator?

(c) why did you not inform Council of the likely costs that WIRES Inc. would incur as a result of appointing and instructing such an investigator, particularly given the extensive debate held at Council that preceded this item regarding the need for severe cuts in expenditure?

Given your failure to furnish Council with reasonable information in answer to the questions in 6(a) to 6(c) above, it is my opinion that the Resolution of Council (as stated in the Minutes of the 10th August 2010 WSC meeting) in respect of this matter did NOT confer any approval for the Board to appoint, brief or instruct any private investigator in this matter. Furthermore, on the basis of information that has recently emerged and the Board's failure to assure or otherwise inform Council at any point since October 2009 that the relevant WIRES internal disciplinary procedures have been rigorously adhered to, it is my view that the Board's approach to this matter furthers neither the interests of the organisation (let alone its individual members) nor the principles of justice, truth or 'a fair go'. I also note your refusal to allow questions along similar lines to be asked at the AGM and at the following WSC, as requested by Lyn Fowler (Inner West Branch Rep) – this is in spite of the fact that the request was made entirely in accordance with all requirements for submission of Agenda Items and raised issues that warrant debate at Council. I also submitted an Agenda Item on a related matter to the Secretary on the 6th October 2010. I did not receive any reply to that submission, and when the Agenda for the WSC meeting for 10th October was released, the Agenda Item I requested was not listed. No reason was given for this omission, and my requests to the Secretary to explain why the item was not listed have not been replied to. I have also asked you on two separate occasions for permission for South Branch Alt Rep Claire Delaney to attend the WSC Meeting on 10th October, and am yet to receive any response at all.

In responding, please do me and the other Council Reps copied in on this email the honour of replying to all of us, via the simple means of using the "Reply All" function on your email program.

Please also note that in the absence of any response from you to the matters raised in this email before Saturday 16th October 2010, I will take the opportunity to raise these points again at Council under General Business. I do not consider this email to be private.

I look forward to your response.


Steven Chamberlain
WIRES South Branch Rep.

The response from Stan Wood (as outgoing Chair) failed to answer any questions and deflected Chamberlain’s concerns by reprimanding him for not communicating through the WIRES secretary. This agenda item had been submitted within the timeframe but had not been included on the agenda without any reason being given. So this member did not have any other avenues to bring legitimate and serious concerns to the attention of the WSC. See below response.

On 15/10/2010 5:10 PM, Stan Wood wrote:

Dear Steven and Councilors,

I acknowledge receipt of your email, which once again breaches the Council protocols of directing correspondence to Councilors through the Council secretary. It is also noted that you have sent this immediately prior to the WIRES Inc AGM and not within the time frame allocated for such matters to be placed on the WSC agenda. It is not the nature of enquiry that is of concern to the Board, only the obvious political motivation behind it and your total disrespect for the WSC, its members and the protocols which govern it.

For the information of all WSC members, the Board will address these matters to the greatest extent possible, considering the investigation is still ongoing, at the General meeting of the WSC following the WIRES Inc. AGM.

Stan Wood Chair - WIRES WIRES

AGM and WSC October 2010

The October 2010 WSC AGM was the first time members from Standard teams were deemed eligible to stand for the Board although this was not in the Constitution (see rW story Democracy and WIRES Structure). The resumes for the incoming Board candidates included the following:

Bill Thompson a previous member of the Board for the last four years, representative of the Mid-South Coast Branch and running for position of Chair. 

There are a couple of issues that will be dealt with by the new Council and Board. The outcomes of those issues will largely be determined by the make-up of the Board and the resolve of Council.

Merrilee Verhoeven a previous member of the Board for the last four years. Verhoeven had lost her election to the WSC at her Branch AGM but was deemed eligible to stand by virtue of her representing the Administrative and Standards Training Team, a team which composed of existing and previous Board members.

The current push to de-stabilise the organisation at Board and Council level, by some, from within and outside the Council, has slowed the work of the Council and it’s sub-committees, I am hopeful that the coming council year will see an end to this deplorable behaviour and the furtherance of the strategic plan set by Council, brought back to the fore.

Fredrick Ulyatt a previous member of the Board for the past four years and the representative of the Northern Rivers Branch.

If you choose to vote for my continued involvement on the WIRES Board, please be aware that I will endeavour to do everything possible to eliminate the current trend of divisiveness and Machiavellian plotting which is undermining WIRES’ ability to flourish and meet its commitment to achieve its goals.

Bill Fortier a previous member of the Board for the last 3 years and the representative of the Central Coast Branch.

I recognise the need for fair and equitable governance which the current Board has carried out to the best of their ability, even under continual attack from others who only seek to destroy our organisation.

Other candidates who were elected to the Board in 2010 were Margaret Cooper, Margaret Clinton, Mike Jupp, Victoria Lett and Vanessa Martin. All these members except Jupp and Lett had either previously been Board members or had close personal ties with members of the Board who had sacked Chris Lloyd in 2008.

Following the AGM, two Councillors Steven Chamberlain and Lyn Fowler, who had unsuccessfully stood for election to the Board, claimed they were defamed in a letter written by Board member and Vice Chair Andrew Edwards which was distributed to all Council members in folders compiled by the Board. In this letter Edwards accused Chamberlain and Fowler of covering up animal cruelty, supplying information that was biased and inaccurate, and communicating with other Councillors directly instead of through the secretary. Both of these Councillors later lodged complaints against Board member Andrew Edwards who wrote the letter and the WIRES Board who distributed the letter for defamation. Chamberlain decided to use the WIRES internal disputes process and Fowler went outside the organisation and used the legal process.


The following resignation was posted by Chris Lloyd on the WIRES Intranet during the morning of 2nd December, 2010 and received over 400 viewings by midday. The postings and comments were removed by the webmaster, after pressure from Board secretary Merrilee Verhoeven.

Chris Lloyd

[address witheld]

The Branch Management Committee

South Branch of WIRES Inc.

(by email)

Dear South Branch Management Committee,

Since I was sacked by WIRES in March 2008, I have found myself and some of my colleagues and friends subject to a consistent campaign of victimisation and vilification by the governing Board. I was not given reasons for my dismissal but I note that my position and credit for most of my work was rapidly transferred to a paid contractor who happened to be the Vice-Chairperson at the time. Any complaint made about this campaign or related behaviour was marked ‘confidential’ and treated largely with contempt. It is a dark irony that in some of the cases the complainant was threatened with discipline for making the complaint.

During 2008 there were a large number of bird courses cancelled and in particular the Advanced Skills Course which had been developed by the Avian Standards Team. After a year in which this course was never re-offered I was asked by a number of members whether I would run it privately which I did in February and March 2009 after writing a new course in my own time.

These courses were well attended and the evaluation sheets indicated a very high level of satisfaction. It was therefore with some surprise that I became aware in October 2009 that a participant had made a complaint that I had allegedly treated some birds cruelly in the March course and in particular I had allegedly implanted new feathers in a Channel-bill Cuckoo in front of twenty or more people. The allegations were described in the Council minutes of that month but no investigation or allegations were made and the relevant constitutional provision that all animal cruelty matters should be dealt with by the RSPCA was fudged.

At that time, I dismissed it as another salvo in the Board’s ongoing campaign. It was therefore with even more surprise that I found over one and half years after the alleged cruelty the Board had employed a private detective at substantial cost to the organisation to ‘investigate’ the ‘Kurnell allegations’. Coincidently this ‘investigation’ follows closely the demise of some of the Board at the hands of their branch membership and the exit of the two Board members who were also paid contract employees.

Despite repeated correspondence from me, I have never been given a single word to indicate what the allegations against me are and what evidence supports them. It did not however take long to establish who the complainant who alleges to have witnessed these events was. I simply asked most of the other twenty odd people if they had seen me feather implant a bird or cruelly deal with others at the course. Their answer was, of course, in the negative.

Your Board turned the process of justice on its head by investigating a member but, by subterfuge and legal niceties never answered five of my letters in three months requesting that I be informed of what they were investigating. Throughout, I insisted that I would only deal with the allegations through section 2.16 of the WIRES Constitution under which I am supposed to be informed what the allegations were and therefore have the ability to prepare a defence. This has never been done.

The final demand from the Board last week made the end game clear. They were always going to throw me out for being a thorn in their collective sides, but they needed an excuse that the bulk of the Council would swallow. I was told that because I had refused to meet their private eye and refused to attend their ‘Special Board’ meeting they would take my letters and their timing as satisfying the provisions of the disciplinary procedures in 2.16 and proceed directly to judgment. Furthermore they clearly imply that regardless of the two year old absurd allegation I was effectively guilty of a pile of other clauses for not cooperating with their unconstitutional process in the first place.

Seriously folks, would you submit yourself to answer unspecified allegations with unknown evidence gathered by a private eye employed by the people who had sacked you and pursued you for two years? If I was to attend the ‘Special Board’ meeting this Sunday I would be legitimising their process for use on the next poor devil who had the temerity to question their decisions or offer an alternative. In addition I was being asked to accept that a group of people who had sacked me and lead a victimisation campaign against me for nearly three years were somehow instantly unbiased arbiters over allegations that I have evidence that some of them and their acolytes had encouraged in the first place.

This of course makes the Board the prosecution (they created the allegation and appointed an investigator for them), judge (they have determined the nature of any procedures to deal with the allegations such as the creation of a Special Board for example) and the ultimate jury (their decision is final). Now that script is pretty clear ‘we want you out and we don’t care how we do it’.

This exercise indicates that the Board and its acolytes are determined to make the WIRES a little fish bowl for them to play in. The tragedy being that while they narrow the membership to those that conform to their petty rules and personal prejudice, there are some serious issues (finances, call centre, branch implosions are obviously not subjects for special board meetings and private eyes but individual members are) which require urgent attention and management.

I am sorry to disappoint the Board but I will exercise the one little freedom they can’t take away – after a decade’s service I resign with immediate effect.

My resignation is a vote of no confidence in the governance and management and in no way indicates the slightest guilt to their allegations even though I do not know exactly what they are. I have not, and hope never will be, been knowingly cruel to any animal. If the Board thought I was why did they not give me the right to test the allegations in a proper court? I do not believe in wasting any more of the donor’s money on some legal challenge to this abuse of power – they have already wasted thousands on the private eye, their management time and probably constant references to their lawyers. WIRES needs some drastic reform but I am not optimistic it will come before there is substantial damage to the organisation.

The question that has tugged at my mind over the last year or so is why they are so determined to silence any opposition, alternatives views or even legitimate questions? Yes, they are in the main people who see the WIRES Board as the zenith of their power and feel threatened by anything they can’t control. However their use of the jackboot on people over things like fruit debates, dog kibble and alternative training allied with their furtive relationships with other bureaucracies suggest something a little more organised.

I am in no way suggesting the WIRES Board have the wit to develop some grand plan but they may be the puppets in someone else’s. Perhaps members might want to draw some dots between all these codes of conduct, standards of care, new rehabilitation policies, cuddling the RSPCA, ‘professionalising’ the call centre, bloating the head office, the state wildlife council and your previous Chair and contracted general manager oft stated claim that “big changes are coming”.

Finally let me underline my resignation is also no reflection on the vast majority of committed and hardworking members who really run WIRES. In ten years and nearly five of them as an officer, I got to work, train and socialise with some magnificent human beings with extraordinary talents and skills. I learnt more about my organism of passion (birds) from some of you than I could hope to in my seven years at university. A heartfelt thanks for the experience.

In the same vein I thank my branch, South, who have suffered all manner of slings and arrows from the Board simply because they harboured dissidents. You are a great bunch of people who have managed to escape the cycle of personality politics and get on with providing a service.

Yours sincerely

Chris Lloyd

It is alleged that Stan Wood and Caroline Enfield while they were chair and vice chair met with Ron Haering of NPWS and requested that Chris Lloyd not be provided with an independent general licence to care for wildlife. This allegation should be investigated by OEH and or ICAC, as it would be contrary to fair and proper government processes and implies favours being given by a government officer.

WSC meeting 4th December 2010

At this meeting members of the Board are told by two WSC members who attended the Practical Bird Skills Workshop in 2009, that no imping on a live bird was done. These two members were never contacted by the private investigator.

Most of this meeting ends up being closed. Half the Board and a number of Councillors were told they had to leave the meeting room and spent most of the day outside wasting their Saturday and WIRES money. The remaining Councillors are asked to resolve the complaint that Chamberlain had lodged against the previous WIRES Board.

Council members were asked by the Chair of this meeting Mike Jupp not to take notes or discuss the meeting with anybody. Only motions were recorded in the minutes. This meeting held at the time the WSC was supposed to have been held, had not been included in the agenda for the meeting and other agenda items were not dealt with on that day. The process used did not follow any WIRES policy or the Constitution. Chamberlain and Edwards were not advised this was to take place and were not allowed to be present to hear what was said against them and to give a reply. Therefore this process was not fair did not follow due process.

Council members in the room allege they were bullied and told they were not leaving the room until an outcome had been reached. Both Chamberlain and Edwards complained about this process. Chamberlain refused to follow the resolution the meeting had made so for the next WSC a motion was put forward by Mike Jupp to remove him from Council. Mike Jupp then didn’t bother to turn up at the WSC meeting and so his motion failed.

Special Board meeting 5th December 2010

Members already under suspicion, those newly identified or those who had refused to give statements were sent a letter by the WIRES Board which stated they were “required” to attend a meeting on 5th December 2010 with 9 Board members and investigator Peter McMillan. The Constitution does not give the members of the Board this power to require attendance and those members felt bullied and intimidated by the letter. They also felt that they would be interrogated if they attended but were not given the right to turn up at the meeting with the WIRES Board with a lawyer or their own witnesses or to make a recording of the meeting when they were questioned. The members understood that serious allegations had been made against them by the WIRES Board of animal cruelty, fraud and covering up an offence.

They were right to feel this way as at this meeting the WIRES Board had planned to interview them as a panel one by one and, as pointed out by the WIRES Secretary Merrilee Verhoeven in a later meeting “the panel could judge their reactions to questions and read between the lines”. So it was going intended by the Board to be a “fit up”.

To rW knowledge no one attended the meeting and some members sent in resignations in disgust.


The conclusion to the investigation was reported to the WSC on 12th February 2011. The meeting was closed and Councilors were again asked by Board members not to make notes or discuss the outcome with anyone. This meeting is the first time the WSC were told any details about the investigation, its costs and that it included allegations against the Inner West BMC for bullying and harassment of Lane. The report was not shown to members of the WSC and not one member who was investigated has ever seen it to question what was said.

The resolutions were as follows

  • The two WIRES members who helped train at the workshop were censured for bringing the birds to the workshop and handling the bird during the course.
  • A summarised version was to be written and posted on the intranet explaining what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. This was not done and the WIRES membership, donors and government were misled.
  • Write a policy on Imping. This did happen but what has failed to be corrected was why the bird needing to be imped in the first place.
  • Send the investigation folders to NPWS to do with as they wished. This was not done and the WIRES membership, donors and government were again misled.
  • The Inner West BMC allegations were dismissed as there was no evidence of wrongdoing. No apology was made by the Board or by the complainant to Inner West BMC for the defamatory allegations made against it.
  • The investigation costs $21,917.50 and took 6 months to complete. This allegedly was not the full cost of this investigation as more money was spent and buried in the WIRES accounts. WSC representatives would not be aware of this as they are not given a breakup of the expenses or monthly copies of expenditure. Any emails requesting investigation costs were ignored. Stan Wood and Caroline Enfield have also been named as providing personal monies for this investigation.

It is interesting to note that 50% of WIRES membership did not renew their membership the following year March 2011.

  • Many members wrote complaints to the Government departments who have jurisdiction over WIRES to report that the WIRES Board of Management had breached it’s Constitution and polices and requested an investigation. The question raised by many members was why did the treasurer and the members of the WIRES public gift fund (WPGF) approve the use of donated monies for this enormous expense on a witch hunt against its own members without following WIRES own rules. All Government departments declined to intervene in what they considered to be internal disputes. No department was interested in the rights of donors to make sure their donations were spent on the organisation aims for wildlife or for the rights and abuse of the good will of the volunteers.
  • The WIRES Board members involved were the same majority that had governed WIRES since 2007. They clearly could not be unbiased in dealing with the allegations as they had already sacked Chris Lloyd in 2008 from his paid position. It is alleged that Board members had bullied the witness Sharlene Lane into making a complaint against Chris Lloyd. They had acted as the policeman, jury, judge and executioner without giving the members accused the benefit of being told what they had allegedly done wrong, allowing them to read the investigators report or allowing them to defend themselves. No one independent from the WIRES Board or anyone with legal qualifications were asked by the WIRES Board to give advice on what they should have done.
  • These actions were clearly an abuse of position under the Associations Act by the then members of the WIRES Board. The WIRES Board breached not only the WIRES Constitution but also its own policies; Volunteer respectful workplace policy, Conflict of Interest, and Confidentiality which are the very rules they are entrusted as Board members to uphold. In short they mislead the WIRES membership.

Six out of nine Board members from this time remain on the Board today. They are Bill Fortier, Bill Thompson, Merrilee Verhoeven, Margaret Clinton, Mike Jupp and Vanessa Martin. Their actions have never been investigated and they have never been brought to account by the WIRES membership.

It is understood that Bill Fortier as Chair, continues to act outside the Constitution and policies to exclude members he does not personally like from involvement in the activities of WIRES.

The membership can vote all of these Board members out at the next their next branch or WSC AGM, but this is highly unlikely due to many Board members having positions on management teams and the membership not being included in the voting process of the Board. The second way is to put up a motion for a vote of no confidence in the Board members that took part at a WSC meeting. This is also highly unlikely as the Board makes up 33% of the WSC and has friends and family on the WSC. The average attendance of branches and management teams to WSC meetings is 22 members and the Board usually makes up approximately 41% of each meeting. This leaves the action to take WIRES Inc. to the Supreme Court, another highly unlikely scenario due to the expense of the court fees and lawyers costs.

There is possibly some hope as a new national regularly authority, the Australian Charities and Not for profit Commission (ACNC) has been set up to improve accountability and transparency in charities, so that donors have confidence that their good will is spent on the intended purpose. The ACNC will not get involved with internal disputes, however it will get involved if a charity may have breached the ACNC Act and, in rare circumstances, the governing body may be removed.

ACNC by law will keep your name confidential from the orgainsation or person who you have lodged a complaint against.

If you would like to raise a concern with the Commissioner you can contact them the following ways:

by phone on 13 ACNC (13 22 62)
weekdays 8.00 am to 7.00 pm AEST

by email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

in writing to:

Advice Services Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission
GPO Box 5108
Melbourne VIC 3001

Channel Bill Cuckoo

What happened to the Channel bill that was the center of the allegations? The bird was flown to North Queensland with a number of other Channel Bill cuckoos by the John Morony Correctional Complex in May 2009. A number of these birds were euthanased because they were un-releasable for behavioural reasons that had nothing to do with their plumage.


Reality Check
# Bullshit Bernie does it againReality Check 2013-09-07 10:27

His breaking news is the one and only grant made several years ago when his infamous group started. Note his claims that "anyone" can be called to rescue. He is also infamous for his anti euthanasia stance even for permanently incapacitated, suffering animals. If this man or his cronies approach you, get out the garlic and holy water.
Just do it
# RE: Bullshit Bernie does it againJust do it 2013-09-08 09:04
You may not like him, but at least he is doing something about the poor statics of other groups of rescuing native animals in distress. Native groups only have themselves to blame with there in fighting, power struggles, and egos. Well done Bernie.
its TIME
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2its TIME 2013-06-21 09:53
As WIRES volunteers are now classed as workers it is time to form a union to band together to protect our rights against these abuses of power and unfair procedures.
Gen X
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Gen X 2013-06-24 20:48
Volunteers are only classed as workers under Work cover, we have no other rights as workers.

What we are seeing in WIRES is bullying behaviour and is covered under work cover. The Board members have basically acted as a gang, who intimidate, and exclude people they do not like.

It continues unabated and unfortunately at the end of the day its the animals that are the ones that aren't rescued and aren't cared for.
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Cute 2013-06-25 18:14
Hang on - Workcover should be protecting the members so why is it working with management to further badger the members? Doesn't look right.
Gen X
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Gen X 2013-06-26 17:16
Maybe because Workcover is only hearing one side of the story that is from Board members. And some Board members are very good at manipulating and twisting truths to suit themselves.
same old story
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2same old story 2013-06-28 14:57
Word is that the board has kicked out another member for what they call bullying using workcover as an excuse but the chair does not stand down while there are bullying claims against him. Can anyone in Wires explain why the chair and board are treated differently by Workplace Health and Safety law?
Ann Brown
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Ann Brown 2013-07-02 17:37
Those that are bullied need to go to Workcover as the advise I received is that more people need to contact them. Then they'll send in the inspectors to Wires. Ring then and make an appointment for an interview, that's what I'll be doing next - citing where Wires is not adhering to the WHS guidelines nor their own discrimination,bullying/grieve nce policies. The more complaints the better the outcome for carers. It is time to stop the rot at the top. Failing that - it's ringing the media
Believe it
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Believe it 2013-06-19 09:48
The volunteers in Wires continue to leave or be expelled for speaking out against what is wrong. The result is that branches that were once strong have collapsed and they can no longer do the rescues and care. Other organisations are picking up the mess while Wires gets the public donations. It is so unfair and the wildlife and the volunteers bear the brunt of this.
Gen X
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Gen X 2013-06-18 16:27
This is shocking, it a wonder that WIRES has any volunteers left with this type of treatment. I'm surprised that no government authority will step in if management have breached their Constitution as this is considered law.
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2percy 2013-07-15 22:25
The truth would be helpful when making assumption and judgment. The chair and co were informed of concern by new member. The situation may have been very different if they had responded in a constructive way.

the new member was told not to speak with the course trainers regarding concern and that it was hoped the situation would not happen again. Friendships blurred ethical conduct
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Belief 2013-07-20 20:01
Could you tell us what the new members concern was as it is unclear? If the new member was so concerned why didn't they say something at the time or write something on the course feedback sheets?
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2witness 2013-08-03 14:00
they did say something. To the branch chair and it was raised by the chair in general meeting and is on record in minutes. The behaviour that has been directed at new member of wires is a good example of why membership retention is so poor.
Rules for all
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Rules for all 2013-07-21 09:35
What would also be helpful is that the rules of the organisation be for ALL members. There has been wildlife used in WIRES courses for years, Jim Watt brought a raptor to a RICC and paraded it around before it was euthanized. Andrew Edwards asked members participating in an avian course to bring wildlife to the course where he assessed them all. He also paraded around a young magpie at another course. Patricia Edwards use to crop fed a galah (her pet)at courses. Live mice are killed at raptor courses in front of participants. These were all close to the same period as the Kurnell course. So why one and not the other?
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2james 2013-07-24 06:38
I agree. Wires call centre and training department need to set a consistent standard.
having flying fox at bat training and allowing them to fly around a room with members who not all vaccinated is not consistant. Loading up members with animals when they have no training for the species is inconsistent.
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2dusty 2013-07-24 20:10
did this happen at a WIRES flying fox course? when I did the course the bats were all dead( very dead) you should report this to the bat standards team as this represents a public health risk and is not allowed.
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Onlooker 2013-07-24 23:27
How long ago James? I haven't seen a bat loose at a course since the lyssavirus spectre raised its head
White Knight
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2White Knight 2013-07-25 09:28
Hello James, Head office have very little to do with the actual training, this is done by the volunteers. So unless this was actually reported to them they would not know about it. The Management teams (volunteers) do all the training. I doubt anyone in the office has the experience to actually do it!
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Judgment 2013-07-21 09:42
That's right blame someone else. The fact is the Board new of the allegations a few months after the alleged event took place as it's stated in the WSC minutes of the same year, they had also spoken to the RSPCA about it. So what's your point?
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Friendships 2013-07-23 08:45
Yes percy you got that right friendships have blurred the outcome. A simple phone call or email to the persons who the complaint was against would have probably cleared up the issue. But it was the Boards decision to go down a path that breached the Constitution whatever you believe, and this is fact and this is wrong.
# auntymaude 2013-07-24 05:21
why did the members branch not address the concerns when raised. It seems that this the origin of the issue.
# RE: auntyuncle 2013-07-24 16:40
Because as you know Maude the concern raised was against a member of the board and that was addressed.
# RE: auntySam 2013-07-25 10:14
Read the article again!
# RE: auntyaunty 2013-07-29 09:21
From what is reported there are two or more wires branchs members refered to.why did the members branchs not address the issues and concerns?. This seems to be the source of the situation.
An omnibus
# RE: auntyAn omnibus 2013-08-08 18:29
The branches did not "address the issues and concerns" because the respective branches were the last to know. And by the time they did know what was going down it was far far too late since The Bored had already handed down its judgement. Therefore your claim ("This seems to be the source of the situation") is nonsense for numerous reasons that will be apparent to anyone who has thought about it.
to sl
# RE: auntyto sl 2013-08-09 18:36
The complaint of harassment by the member by members of the board were referred to the chair. Nothing was done.
# RE: auntyFeret 2013-08-17 23:12
The source of the situation is that a lot of people have been telling porkies. What was the result of $20,000 worth of donations, obviously nothing was proven as there has not been any animal cruelty charges laid?
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Enemies 2013-07-24 16:47
Wires is run by loyalty of friendships on the board and their determination to destroy those seen as the enemy. It is not run by the rules of the Constitution.
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2Wallaby 2013-08-06 04:38
What has been achieved by this group of people who just want the power to push members around? Where is there progress with new exciting ideas to deal with the disastrous record in the time it takes to collect animal from vets and to set up better systems to support members from burn out and take pressure off members who have to take too many animals because there are not enough members. When will members be asked for their views on what they want to change their constitution to give everyone a fair go? What have the management teams achieved to improve the way WIRES operates? do these teams do anything at all except to provide safe seats for those members who think they should have permanent seats on the Board? The record is poor as most of their time is spent playing schoolyard games and bullying members who speak out. It is all so pathetic and so unfair as the nonsense reflects badly on all employees and members who work so hard. It is a disgrace that the government does nothing.
and it still goes on
# RE: Kurnell Allegations – Part 2and it still goes on 2013-08-19 18:12
Sure the same old lot will stand again for the board at the next election of the board and like in other years anyone who stands and is not liked will get the bully treatment and not dare to stand again,

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