The Poetic Castle

THECASTLE_50

The poetic castle of the toothless Arts Queensland.

Deborah Tanzer

Manager, Legal and Governance

Arts Business Performance and Infrastructure

Arts Queensland

Department of the Premier and Cabinet

22/11/17

Hi Deborah,

Hopefully by now you have been contacted by the Honourable Jen Howard, Assistant Minister of State Assisting the Premier, as I had a meeting with her on the 31st October to discuss the QPF’s negative response to my complaint. If you have not seen the response from Carmen Macmillan the Chair of the QPF, then I have attached it for your perusal.

Needless to say, that I am underwhelmed by her response to my complaint and the accusations that I behaved in a way that was contrary to the spirit of the festival, and the QPF was justified in removing me from the premises, when I have strenuously outlined the positive aspects of my involvement at this year’s event.  As no specific details of the supposed ‘complaints about my behaviour’ are forthcoming from the QPF, I have used the RTI (Right to Information) process with the QPS to get those specific details, and ascertain exactly what I was accused of, by whom, and when.

While my immediate thought about the response is an organisation closing ranks to protect its own reputation, I am now even more concerned about the maladministration apparent in the QPF. I also seriously doubt the impartiality of the information gathered in the so-called ‘internal investigation’ as most of the eyewitnesses (attendees at the festival, volunteers, festival co-directors) have a vested interest in upholding the reputation of the festival, whether through being a festival participant and being paid (and wanting to return perhaps one day on the program), being in the loyal role of a volunteer who just follows orders, or being the friends of/co-directors who just hate my guts because have I criticised their programming decisions over the last three years.

I assume the ’complaints’ about my behaviour came only from the imaginations of the co-directors, and I don’t agree with their accusation that I or anyone else I saw at the festival behaved in an offensive, intimidating or threatening manner. As I have pointed out in my previous two letters, I was enjoying the festival, went to 12 events and was even writing positive reviews about the poetry I heard, so it just doesn’t make sense to me or to anyone else who is observing this furore/fiasco, why I would act in a such a way to be thrown out of the event, when I was having a good time?

As there is no spirit of reconciliation, or admittance of wrong-doing on their behalf, and even though the co-directors have now resigned, I am still taking this matter further through the Queensland Ombudsman process.

 

Kind regards,

Brett Dionysius

 

PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

Mr Brett Dionysius 38 Paluna Street

RIVERHILLS OLD 4074

Dear Mr Dionysius

I refer to your email of 22 November 2017 and other communication concerning issues at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts (Centre) on 27 August 2017.

I have outlined your issues of complaint, as Arts Queensland understands them, separately below, together with Arts Queensland’s findings, having considered the information provided by you and the Duty Supervisor of the Centre.

I understand your Complaints as they relate to Arts Queensland are that:

  1. You were escorted from the Centre by two officers of the Queensland State Protective Security (SPSOs) at the request of the co-directors of the Queensland Poetry Festival Inc, (QPF);
  2. You were not given any reasons for your eviction by either the SPSOs or the co­ directors;
  3. You were not approached by Centre management or asked to leave by them, before the SPSOs escorted you from the building.

Jurisdiction

 Under the Department of the Premier and Cabinet’s Complaints Management Policy (the policy in place at the time of the incident), Arts Queensland may manage complaints about a service or action of the Department or a departmental officer’s conduct. The conduct of QPF directors and the decision of the QPF to deny you entry to the Festival is not a matter that Arts Queensland can formally investigate.

You informed our agency that you have lodged a complaint about the SPSOs and that this has been referred to Protective Security Services, Queensland Police Service, for response. I can confirm that this is the appropriate agency to deal with your issues of complaint regarding the SPSOs. The conduct of Centre management is a matter that can be investigated by Arts Queensland.

Your complaint in relation to Centre officers has been investigated and my findings are as follows:

 QPF hired the Centre during the Festival for its use during the period Thursday, 24 August 2017 to Sunday, 27 August 2017. The areas of the Centre included the performance space, courtyard and shopfront. QPF had licence and authority to use and occupy those

  • QPF’s ‘Conditions of Entry’ were displayed at the Centre and provided that patrons must be respectful of others and the venue and if not, may be asked to leave.
  • The Centre’s Duty Supervisor was not dedicated to the Festival, but his responsibilities included monitoring and ensuring the safe and proper use of the Centre.
  • On Sunday 27 August 2017, the Duty Supervisor was informed by a director of QPF that you had been refused entry to the Festival but you had ignored him and remained in the hirer’s space/event.
  • The QPF director also informed the Duty Supervisor that you had been denied entry because you had been disrespectful during the previous night’s events, and had been unapologetic and intimidating when approached on the issue by QPF directors.
  • The Duty Supervisor reported these issues to the SPSOs and requested that they escort you from the
  • After you had been escorted from the Centre, the Duty Supervisor discussed the circumstances with

In response to the situation at hand, the Duty Supervisor had to quickly balance various duties and potential outcomes in reliance upon the information to hand. This included an apparently lawful request by QPF for you to leave the Centre, the alleged reasons why you were denied entry, and your apparent refusal to leave the Centre. The Duty Supervisor determined that it was appropriate and in the best interests of all persons for you to be escorted from the Centre.

Having regard to the Duty Supervisor’s need to quickly assess the situation and balance various duties and rights in uncertain and difficult circumstances, I am unable to conclude that the decisions and actions of the Duty Supervisor were unreasonable.

In having concluded that the actions of the Duty Supervisor were not unreasonable, it was not necessary for me to form a final view as to whether the decision of QPF to exclude you from the Festival was reasonable or not. While I am not aware of any other complaint or grounds, I confirm that it would be a matter of concern if the QPF had capriciously excluded any member of the public from Festival events held at the Centre.

I accept that you felt aggrieved by the QPF’s decision to decline your entry to the Festival and the situation was regrettable. Again, I confirm that the Department requires all visitors to the Centre to be treated with respect and I thank you for bringing the matter to our attention.

With regards to follow up action, Arts Queensland will also review whether there needs to be clearer communication given to patrons as to roles of the parties as a condition of future hire agreements.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint or how the complaint was handled, you may seek an internal review by a senior departmental officer. If you are dissatisfied with the internal review, you may seek an external review by the Office of the Queensland Ombudsman.

Please do not hesitate to contact Ms Deborah Tanzer if you require any further information or have any questions about this process by email at Deborah.tanzer@arts.qld.gov.au or on telephone (07) 3034 4043.

 

Susan Richer

A/Director, Development

Arts Queensland

 

Deborah Tanzer

Manager, Legal and Governance

Arts Business Performance and Infrastructure

Arts Queensland

Department of the Premier and Cabinet

20/01/18

Hi Deborah,

Thanks for your reply to my complaint. Yes, I am obviously dissatisfied with AQ’s response to my complaint, primarily as there is a glaring lie in your assessment of the case or in the information that has been fed to you by the ex-Directors of the QPF and I would like this complaint reviewed by an internal senior departmental officer.

Particularly, with reference to dot point 5 – ‘The QPF director also informed the Duty Supervisor that you had been denied entry because you had been disrespectful during the previous night’s events, and had been unapologetic and intimidating when approached on the issue by QPF directors.’

On this point, at no time on Saturday night or on Sunday morning was I approached by either of the ex-Directors David Stavanger or Anne Te Whiu, to discuss specific examples of my disrespectful behaviour. No details were ever given to me by them about who I was I disrespectful to or what exactly I did that was disrespectful? They never approached me in any manner personally  or through the Duty Manager of the Judith Wright Centre to discuss this alleged issue, so I don’t see how they could come to a conclusion that I was unapologetic, when they never ever approached me. This point in your assessment is a blatant lie on their behalf.

I look forward to being contacted by the internal senior departmental officer when my complaint is reviewed. I am also ccing this email to my local Minister, the Honourable Jennifer Howard, Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Assistant Minister of State, as she is also aware of my complaint concerning both the Judith Wright Centre and the Queensland Poetry Festival as we met last November to discuss my grievance.

It is certainly a sad day in Queensland, when the professional reputation of one of the state’s leading published poets and the founding director of the Queensland Poetry Festival itself, is abused by fake claims and unsubstantiated allegations of improper behaviour, in what amounts to a personal vendetta by a small group of corrupt arts workers to shut down criticism and free speech surrounding the maladministration of state government funding and resources.

 

Kind regards,

Brett Dionysius

 

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