The father of coward punch victim Thomas Kelly has hosed down claims that he pocketed more than half of the funds raised by the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, a charity set up in his departed son’s name.
It was reported yesterday that Ralph Kelly was paid $125,574 last financial year, roughly 51% of the foundation’s total revenue, according to an annual report.
In response to the accusations, Mr. Kelly – who is also the foundation’s director – has come out claiming that the figures don’t accurately reflect a full picture of the charity’s funding.
While his salary was indeed over $125K, Kelly told Sydney Morning Herald that the report didn’t include the more than half a million dollars that TKYF donors paid the Salvation Army to run the charity’s cornerstone program, Take Kare Safe Spaces.
“My salary was approved by all of the board members [and] all of the directors and it was disappointing to see that [the Daily Telegraph] reported that without waiting to speak to the directors or myself,” he said.
“It undermines all of the good work the foundation does and puts doubt into people’s minds.”
Mr. Kelly told SMH that, between December 2014 and February 2016, the Salvos received $540,000 to operate the Take Kare Safe Spaces program, which provides assistance to young people who may run into trouble on a night out in Sydney.
“The majority of these funds are paid directly to the Salvation Army under an arrangement with TKYF and its sponsors,” TKYF chairman Philip Crawford added, in a statement.
“To date the Take Kare Safe Space has trained 273 volunteers who, along with the Salvation Army, have staffed the Take Kare Safe Spaces for over 15,000 hours and helped 13,600 people in 2015,” he continued.
A spokesperson for the Salvation Army also told Fairfax that the organisation “receives funding directly to run the Take Kare Ambassador & Safe Space Program,” but was unable to confirm the exact amount.
Ralph Kelly and his wife Kathy established the TKYF after their son Thomas was killed in a one punch attack in Kings Cross in 2012, a tragedy that became the catalyst for introducing the city’s strict lockout laws.
As SMH reports, the foundation’s main donors include the NSW Government, the City of Sydney, the Macquarie Group Foundation and the Crown Resorts Foundation, which is responsible for the casino currently being constructed at Barangaroo (and which, like the Star Casino, conveniently falls outside the lockout zone).
Following the publication of his salary, Kelly says that he was forced to temporarily shut down the foundation’s website and Facebook page after they were inundated with abusive messages.
“If what I read in the [Daily] Telegraph is true, you payed [sic] yourself $150 000, you are a piece of shit,” one threat read. “You should be ashamed of youself [sic]. You’re the one that should get a good smack in the head. Fuck your charity and fuck you , you theiving [sic] bastard.”
In response, Kelly told SMH: “You start to think if we are going to be targeted by death threats we should stop, but then you know it is going to make us stronger”.
“The foundation is working with all sorts of organisations, the City of Sydney, the Hotels Association of Australia, the police, hospitals – to make this city safer, which should be everyone’s focus,” he said.
The news comes two days after an estimated 15,000 people took to the streets of Sydney in a mass demonstration against the lockout laws.
Keep Sydney Open’s Tyson Koh made it clear during his rally speech that the movement was “on the same side” as those campaigning to make the city safer, and that “safety” and “freedom” were not mutually exclusive concepts.
“We don’t want to get punched when we go for a night out”, he told the crowd of thousands at the rally, reiterating KSO’s credo that they want “smarter, safer solutions for a global city”.
Some of their recommendations include the implementation of a 24-hour public transport system, the introduction a night mayor and police who work with, and not against, the responsible venues who provide safe nights out for punters.
Gallery: Keep Sydney Open Rally 2016 / Photos By Ashley Mar
One-Punch Victim Thomas Kelly's Father Responds To Salary Accusations - Music Feeds