The rift that could destroy ‘paralysed’ war widow charity
A SIMMERING clash of egos at charity Legacy has seen at least one war widow flee Cairns and a former Supreme Court judge umpire two warring power blocks.
Former Supreme Court Justice Stanley Jones AO QC is understood to be mediating the simmering feud that nearly tore apart the Cairns Legacy club.
The mediation by the respected member of the bench followed an ongoing conflict between members of the current board of Legacy and past presidents and legatees.
A report into the Cairns Legacy Club in March this year by CEO Scott Warr shone a spotlight into the feud which had "paralysed" the club.
"Two strong willed and opposed internal 'blocks' of Legatees have developed where a high level of distrust of the other side had been allowed to fester to the point where the Club's Board of Management is almost paralysed," the report states.
Mr Warr visited Cairns in order to assess the scope of "a wide range of allegations of poor administration, conduct and behaviour by legatees within the club."
He found "the club had allowed a number of strong personalities to go on unchecked resulting in personal and conflicting agendas completely detracting from the 'core business' of the Cairns Legacy Club, which is to look after the widows and the families."
The charity currently looks after 482 widows in the Cairns area.
It is understood the club has been referred to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, which has refused to comment on the matter.
The dispute has cost the club at least one widow, who left Cairns last month, fearing repercussions from club members who she alleged had bullied her.
"I just about had a nervous breakdown," the widow, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
"I have had enough, I am going to be with my son in Townsville."
Several senior legatees have alleged a lack of transparency in club dealings.
"We used to go to meetings because we wanted to know what was going on with the widows, that doesn't happen any more," one legatee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
"They don't pass on correspondence; we don't know where the widows are and who the other legatees are."
Newly appointed Legacy Cairns president Mal McCullough said the club's issues were being addressed systematically.
"I knew that there were improvements to be made, not insurmountable," Mr McCullough said.
"It is about laying the groundwork for the future.'
If not mended, the rift could have dire implications for the support of war widows and families in the Far North.
"Given that the club has had a number of issues concerning poor behaviour and conduct dating back to 2015 … if the club fails to resolve internal issues then Legacy Australia should consider implementing disciplinary action such as revoking the club's Legacy charter and/or commencing an investigation into the club merging into Townsville Legacy," the report concluded.
Legacy Australia has been asked for comment.
Originally published as The rift that could destroy 'paralysed' war widow charity