Department mum on public funds paid to Deek


p2330-de-castellaBy ERWIN CHLANDA
The Australian Government’s Department of Health is not answering questions raised in a report about the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) run by Robert de Castella and funded mostly with public funds.
When an initial reply was received, the Alice Springs News Online asked these follow-up questions:–
You say: “An internal review in 2012 identified some administrative issues which were resolved through engagement with the project.”
Would you please comment on information that de Castella [allegedly] paid himself a total of $228,000 over a 21 month period – from July 1, 2010 to April 2012 at rates of $2,200 or $2,000 a day, visiting remote Aboriginal communities. That amount [is said to represent] 45.6% of the total funds of $502,645.50 in that period that de Castella received from the health department.
What other “engagement” took place?
You say:  “The Department continues to fund the project under the Indigenous Australians Health Program, and it continues to deliver good outcomes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Would you please advise what precisely these outcomes are. By that I mean what has each of the participants done following their participation with respect to, for example, issues of community health, combating obesity, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, unemployment, participating in education and so on. Please advise, in each case, the number of people who have benefited, and how it was established that they have enjoyed these benefits.
Our information came from John Bell, a former Alice Springs sporting identity who helped set up the program (see earlier reports in the Alice Springs News Online).
We have had no reply to these questions from the department.
PHOTO from the IMP website.


  1. It looks like there’s good money running, it think I might take it up, my running skills would be exceptional if I got paid this amount. I would be speedy Gonzalez.

  2. Good reporting Erwin. Talk about feathering one’s nest. Surprised the big networks have not run with this.

  3. @ Ray: I agree, this matter clearly raises serious allegations that a) requires the relevant government departments / authorities to respond in detail, and b) the major media networks, especially those that are publicly funded, to start inquiring and reporting on this story which is obviously of public interest.
    I think the problem they all face is the extent to which the IMP has been promoted and reported as a “good news story”.
    If this situation continues it would raise questions about the professional integrity of these sectors, quite in addition to the apparently tarnished reputation of the IMP.

  4. Interesting that it has taken so long to come out. I met with John Bell several years back and he was extremely agitated that he received no compensation or remuneration from advice he provided to establish this project.
    This has to be rectified by way of financial settlement I would hope.
    John Bell can you please send Robert de Castella an invoice for professional services that you provided.
    And Robert can you please detail what outcomes you have achieved that benefit the youth of Central Australia.
    And to the Department of Health: Are you able to send to me the guidelines for this and future projects.
    I have an idea which will generate enormous media coverage. Sadly I cannot forecast any worthwhile outcomes for the community. bBut I will promote it with all good intentions.

  5. Paul is optimistic to expect a response from Rob de Castella. In nearly six years, Deek has never responded to any of my email queries. Not a single one. His lawyers do all the talking, and are now demanding that I sell my family home and pay Deek $88,000+ for the privilege.
    My invoice for services as Project Coach is simple. I worked flat out like a lizard drinking for 505 working days, which Deek agreed I worked, between 1 April 2009 and 15 November 2010.
    I leave it to any fair-minded lay observer who has seen the video “Running to America” which airs regularly on ABC TV (as recently as Easter Sunday 2016) to decide a reasonable daily rate that should be paid.
    Current Indigenous Health Minister Nigel Scullion is reported in Alice Springs News Online recently saying that he signs all the cheques for grant funds to remote communities.
    I would like to ask the former Minister, Warren Snowdon, Member for Lingiari, did he sign the cheques that went to Deek for his Canberra-based Indigenous Marathon Project in 2010?
    When he was advised by Health of the Auditors’ findings in 2012, did Warren retrospectively approve Deek’s use of $228,000 from the grant funds for Deek’s personal remuneration between 1 July 2010 and 14 May 2012?
    Did Warren retrospectively approve Deek’s drawing of $24,500 from the funds in 2011-2012 to pay his lawyers for his Tribunal actions against me in Canberra?
    What happened to the $80,000+ that I have since discovered under FOI in Health and FaHCSIA was earmarked in the grant budgets of 2009 and 2010 by Deek for my services in my key Personnel role as Project Coach?
    So many questions, so much official silence, so few answers.
    So, Paul, I wish you good luck in your endeavour to obtain a response from Deek. You will need it.


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