Nevertheless it outsourced nearly every little thing to firms run by Mr Bijkerk, who claimed in an electronic mail learn in court docket to have the help of former Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson and broadcaster Alan Jones in a dispute with the federal government.
The charity folded final June shortly after the Solar-Herald questioned its solvency, its connections to males with prison information and a collection of huge loans.
Kids who had lived in Guardian’s properties spoke out a few lack of meals, clothes and normal care, whereas former employees described working greater than 24 hours in a row in harmful circumstances.
The actual boss
On paper, the person in cost was Glen Ella, the previous rugby union fullback who represented Australia in 4 Checks. Mr Ella stated he had joined the charity as a board member after which as a paid chief government in 2014 to provide again to his Indigenous group. However a lot of his proof in court docket this week involved what he had didn’t do.
He didn’t learn the nationwide rules that govern charities. He didn’t know the way a lot the charity obtained in funding. He didn’t learn the funding settlement with the federal government. He didn’t overview the monetary accounts he signed every year as he declared them to be correct.
“I trusted [people] to do the correct factor,” Mr Ella stated. “Sadly they didn’t.”
Whereas he stated he taken care of day-to-day operations, the one who “principally ran the company” in accordance with Mr Ella was Roy Bijkerk – a determine who occupied no board place and glided by the title “growth co-ordinator”.
The Herald has beforehand revealed that Mr Bijkerk served time within the early 2000s for conspiring to import three kilograms of cocaine.
Shortly after leaving jail, Mr Bijkerk started offering companies to Guardian – initially a for-profit enterprise – by way of his subcontracting firm, Alpha Assist Providers. Alpha would come to obtain tens of millions of every year from the charity.
Mr Ella agreed when requested that it was honest to say he “thought of Roy to be, in impact, a boss”.
It was Mr Bijkerk’s firm Alpha that lent Mr Ella $4482 to cowl mortgage repayments after he instructed Mr Bijkerk he was struggling financially, the court docket heard.
“By asking Roy for that mortgage, you weakened your means to have the ability to problem selections he was making on the time,” barrister Philip Santucci put to Mr Ella, who agreed.
“Do you’re feeling as if Roy Bijkerk could have been utilizing you – each your celeb standing and your Aboriginal heritage to be able to achieve benefit for his organisation?”
“Sure,” he stated.
Mr Ella stated repayments of the mortgage have been deducted from his wage and he remained on the charity as a result of quite a lot of good work was being carried out by “exhausting staff”.
Mr Bijkerk’s prison background had not bothered him “on the time”, however it was a unique matter with one other determine seen across the workplace.
Ned Bikic, a former standover man, was sentenced in 2001 to a minimal 11 years’ jail after an affray left a person useless.
Following his jail stint, Mr Bikic was a director or part-owner of two firms receiving cash in subcontracts from the charity.
A ‘very darkish’ price
Mr Bijkerk in 2015 wrote to his son Dylan, one other highly effective determine inside Guardian, outlining a proposed administration settlement that will in the end give “full management” of the charity to an organization owned by their household and Mr Bikic.
The e-mail from Mr Bijkerk referred to the proposed association as “an ingenious creation of my doing,” one wherein “the charity owns nothing – not a pen, or perhaps a pencil”.
One other electronic mail between father and son explored additional subcontracting preparations that may have yielded hundreds of every week from a number of kids’s properties run by the charity.
“That price must be stored very darkish between our gang,” Roy Bijkerk wrote. Whereas the association was “authorized,” he didn’t need the charity or the primary subcontractor to seem worthwhile, the e-mail steered.
The Workplace of the Kids’s Guardian raised critical governance issues about Guardian Youth Care – together with conflicts of curiosity and an absence of impartial auditing – way back to 2014.
Nevertheless it was an impartial report by Deloitte commissioned by the Division of Household and Neighborhood Providers two years later that drew consideration to unauthorised subcontracting, which the federal government finally known as a $20 million misappropriation.
Administrators of the charity have denied any misappropriation and maintained it was authorities funding issues that led to its demise.
Final 12 months, Mr Bijkerk wrote to a number of associates saying he was “getting very fearful” however that he might simply take authorized motion in opposition to the division for withholding correct funds.
The e-mail referred to lastly gaining the help of “Ricco [sic] and Jones”. Mr Ella, the chief government, was not despatched the e-mail however instructed the court docket this may increasingly have been a reference to Graham Richardson and Alan Jones.
Mr Ella stated it was unclear what the help entailed however that Mr Bijkerk was “much more pleasant with Richardson than Alan Jones”. He stated he met Mr Bijkerk and Mr Richardson twice, whereas Mr Bijkerk had visited Mr Jones “the place he lives at Round Quay”.
On his Sky Information present final 12 months, Mr Richardson interviewed Dylan Bijkerk, praising Guardian Youth Care and lashing the division and reporting by the Solar-Herald.
Mr Ella agreed with a suggestion in court docket that these public figures, like himself, could not have had the complete image concerning Guardian.
‘No battle of curiosity’
Whereas Mr Ella stated he had not hung out wanting into the charity’s funds, the opposite important examinee at hearings this week got here onto the board as a numbers man.
Kevin Casey, a former accomplice at CBC accountants, the agency that did the charity’s books, was an accountant for Roy Bijkerk and a director of the Guardian charity.
He additionally personally obtained tens of hundreds of within the type of earnings from the charity’s important subcontractor, Alpha Assist Providers.
Alpha had just one consumer – Guardian Youth Care. A contract the charity signed delivered each greenback in authorities funding not spent on wages to Alpha to offer lodging, meals, coaching, transport – nearly the entire charity’s different work.
Mr Casey, Mr Bijkerk and others related to the charity had stakes in a belief that obtained common distributions of revenue from this subcontractor, Alpha.
“[The charity] paid Alpha a administration price for service supplied – what Alpha did with that was their prerogative,” stated Mr Casey, who claimed to have stopped receiving revenue distributions in 2012.
He denied there was a battle of curiosity in his being a professional bono director of a charity whereas additionally a beneficiary of contracts the charity signed.
“You didn’t assume to your self ‘I might slightly this cash keep and assist deprived children than come into my palms’?” Mr Santucci, the barrister, requested.
“The reply to that’s no as a result of the companies we supplied for these children … have been all the time on the best degree,” Mr Casey replied.
He stated stories from welfare companies have been “exemplary”, he by no means suspected the charity could have been used as a car for secret achieve and that with out the subcontractor Alpha it “couldn’t have operated”.
He didn’t learn the charity’s settlement with the federal government from 2012 onwards that stated any subcontracting required departmental approval.
Within the 12 months earlier than the brand new settlement, Alpha obtained $four.four million from the charity and earned an working revenue of $1.1 million, information learn in court docket confirmed. This was then divvied up between Mr Bijkerk and his associates. Mr Bijkerk’s household belief additionally obtained consultancy charges for charity work – greater than $500,000 in a single 12 months.
“That was low-cost,” Mr Casey stated. He instructed the court docket the administrators of Guardian had reviewed the remuneration of chief executives of different main charities.
Besides Mr Bijkerk was not the chief government. The pinnacle of the organisation – on paper at the least – was Glen Ella, who obtained about $70,000 a 12 months the court docket heard. In the meantime, Mr Bijkerks’ enterprise accomplice Mr Bikic was invoicing for his companies to Guardian shortly after leaving jail.
Mr Bikic’s subcontracting firm obtained $30,000 a month to offer some lodging and transport, upkeep work on the youngsters’s properties and recommendation on how Guardian might turn out to be a foster care company.
Then there was the mortgage to Edward Hayson, the previous Stiletto brothel proprietor.
A number of of the charity’s administrators, together with Mr Casey, have been additionally administrators and homeowners of Guardian Care Properties, which obtained rental earnings through a subcontractor to deal with as much as six kids in items in Sydney’s west. It was Guardian Care Properties that discovered $500,000 for Mr Hayson, with $25,000 curiosity to be paid up entrance, Mr Casey stated.
When the Herald first requested about this mortgage in 2016, Mr Casey and different administrators issued an announcement by way of their lawyer denying the charity and Guardian Care Properties had any connection past some frequent board members.
In court docket on Thursday, Mr Casey stated others organized the mortgage, and as for Mr Hayson, “I’ve by no means met the individual”.
‘A real trigger’
Apparently prolific as a author of emails, Mr Bijkerk would usually ship ranting ones to Mr Casey, a few of them complaining about others related to Guardian.
There have been references to a number of figures, together with Mr Bijkerk’s brother Paul, a former chief government of the charity, having obtained tens of millions of (though it was unclear what for).
Mr Bijkerk, in a single electronic mail, wrote that his brother suspected he was nonetheless a “scheming, crafty prison with no ethics”.
However in court docket Mr Casey stated he was untroubled by the prison backgrounds of Mr Bijkerk and Mr Bikic.
“Roy had a prison previous which was a few years in the past – 20 years in the past – and he had a real trigger in making an attempt to enhance these children’ lives,” he stated.
“Ned Bikic had served his time and he was making an attempt to show his life round as effectively.”
The hearings proceed.
Patrick Begley is an investigative reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.