Geoff Sadler and his Legacy

Continuing on from our recent blog post of setting the record straight, we would like to address some unsubstantiated accusations made around money bequeathed to the Air League by a former member and claims of “mismanagement”.

But before we do – who was Geoff Sadler?

Gp.Lt. Geoff Sadler, LM, MSA

Group Lieutenant Geoffrey James Sadler, LM, MSA joined the Australian Air League at Katoomba Boys Squadron on the 26th November 1948 as a Junior Cadet just 9 years of age. From then until his passing in 2007 he was an avid supporter of the Air League in the Blue Mountains of NSW.

During his time as an Officer he held a number of appointments including Squadron Education Officer of Wentworth Falls Boys Squadron, Wing Education Officer of Dearin (formerly Blue Mountains) Wing and Officer Commanding Squadron of Katoomba Boys Squadron from 1965 until 2005 when he stood down due to illness. He was Chairman of the NSW Boys Group Council, holding the rank of Honorary Lieutenant Commissioner, from 1985 to 1987.

Geoff was, in 1977, nominated as a Councillor on the Council of the Air League and in 1993 re-joined the Council and the minutes show he attended his last meeting of the Council in August 2007.  During his time on the Council, he held the appointments of Public Officer of the Australian Air League and Council Minute Secretary.   He attended all of the, many, Council Meetings and was a stalwart of honesty, good governance and support for all members of the League.

Geoff was passionate about the history of the Air League and spent a number of years researching our past, interviewing former members. As a part of the History Committee he produced a booklet for the 50th anniversary of the League on our history to that point. This was all pre-Internet, no Google or online, digitised National Archives back then. It was all letters and phone calls, visits to state libraries and detective work!

Whilst it has been claimed, “The (money) that was left in his WILL was left for the growth of the Air League in the Katoomba area.” – as a function of his Estate, Geoff left his house and contents, minus specific items, to the Air League as a whole, with the proceeds to be used as follows: 

“The major sum to be used as required to promote and develop the  Air League  , a sum to be used to provide a building to house the  Air League  Historic Collection, a sum to be provided annually for the support of Katoomba Boys Squadron and any other Blue Mountains Squadron. Similar to apply to the Girls if a Girls Squadron is re-established in Katoomba or Blue Mountains area”

The 2008 Annual Report of the Australian Air League   included reference to the above and went on to state:

“The Council proposes to establish a Memorial Trust Account with the funds that are currently invested by the Executor of Geoff’s will, on behalf of the League. The Council is investigating with their legal and accounting advisors the best method to utilise the funds to maximise the benefits…”

Our anonymous poster has asked for “proof of where the money is really going” and suggests conspiratorially that it’s being moved around to keep it hidden from members, but the reality is that all items of expenditure paid from the Air League’s accounts are substantiated by documentation and two members sign all payments. The accounts are tabled at Council of League meetings for members to peruse and question. The accounts are audited with the auditor viewing copies of vouchers and other details. All of this they could have found in the annual reports and balance sheets, instead of starting unfounded rumours. 

In the interests of openness we present here the current balance sheet;

Current Debt Due – G. J. Sadler Memorial Fund 
G. J. Sadler Memorial Fund$333,375.76
AIR LEAGUE National Promotion Fund$23,761.51
AIR LEAGUE Review Subsidies to Member($14,993.18)
Banners – Sqns/PR Display – Gp($10,258.51)
PR Material to Gps($3,019.70)
Turning 17 Project($653.44)
Subsidies to Units($500.00)
Refurbish AIR LEAGUE Review Trophies($1,579.09)
Corp Governance Legals MOORES($20,000.00)
Redress Scheme Advice – Moores($8,290.00)
Migration from IA to CLG – Constitution etc($7,200.00)
Total Current Debt Due – G. J. Sadler Memorial Fund$290,643.35

Some items that we would like to highlight are:

  • $14,993.18 was spent on subsidies to members to ensure that every cadet had the opportunity to attend the  Air League  Review;
  • $10,258.51 to provide every Squadron in the League with professionally printed pull-up banners for their recruiting efforts;
  • $20,000.00 on Corporate Governance to Moores (our legal advisors). This money was spent to ensure our child protection and associated policies were up to date and compliant with current legislation. This was a preventative investment to ensure we are compliant with all legislation.

We would also like to address two further matters. 

Katoomba Boys Squadron

This Squadron (or Company as they were known then) was actually one of the first to open – its Provisional Charter being issued on the 9th March 1935. The Squadron has been in recess since 2010 and nothing would please us more than to see the Squadron re-opened both to honour Geoff (for whom Sadler Wing is named) and to provide opportunities for boys and girls in the Blue Mountains to be a part of the Air League. Money is still set aside in the G.J. Sadler Memorial Fund for this purpose, however a Squadron needs Officers to run it and, to date, no one has stepped forward to take on this role. Until volunteers are found and a plan devised to reopen the Squadron – nothing can be done. 

Australian Air League History Committee

A sum of money is also set aside, dedicated to Australian Air League history, however despite calls for expressions of interest in four Federal Orders between 2008 and 2017, no person has yet stepped forward to take on the role of the Air League Historian, which we are sure Geoff would find disappointing. Currently enquiries and some work on our history is being undertaken by members of the Council of the League in addition to their other duties, however time constraints mean that this cannot be given the full attention it deserves. Members interested in taking part in this worthwhile project can contact us through the Consultation Hub.

Finally, we would again invite the anonymous poster to step out from behind the curtain and contact us to engage in honest, open forum so that we can clear up many of the incorrect assertions and unfounded rumours being spread on social media.

Setting the Record Straight

Some members may be aware of a number of anonymous posts that have been made on social media, which cover a number of topics that affect the Air League, including some as recently as a week ago.

This anonymous poster has made a number of emotive statements and claims in public forums, many of these suggestive of “big conspiracies” and insinuating financial mismanagement with questions like “where is the money really going?”. It is unfortunate and disappointing that a former member who claims to care about the organisation would feel the need to sully the good name of the Air League – especially when answers to many of their questions can be found in our financial statements, annual reports and other communications.

Members of the Council of the League are more than happy to engage in an honest, open forum with any member, however it is difficult to engage with an anonymous poster who hides their identity on social media, and who indeed has blocked members of the Council of the League who are on social media from actually commenting on these posts should they wish to do so.

Due to the sheer volume of claims made by this anonymous poster, we will be addressing the main points in a number of posts here on the Consultation Hub. We would like to remind members that the Consultation Hub was indeed established to provide direct dialog with our members, however to date there has only been one question, on insurance, which we will be addressing shortly.

One point this anonymous poster makes is “Things have changed so much in the world…” and we could not agree more. Change has been continually forced on the League by external factors, and this will continue into the future. We must meet stringent new requirements which occur regularly to charities registered by the ACNC and the Office of Fair Trading (NSW).

For example – right now there are more changes coming in to charitable fundraising laws which the League must comply with and these take considerable volunteer time, however with non-compliance penalties in the tens of thousands of dollars this is important work that must be done and which needs skilled and dedicated staff (more on that later!).

Due to the seriousness of any claims of “financial mismanagement” strongly implied by this anonymous person – we will be addressing this point first in our next post. We also remind our adult members that this Hub was set up to give YOU a chance to ask questions and invite your questions through the feedback form.

Please take up the opportunity.

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Welcome to the Consultation Hub

There is a lot happening in the Air League these days, but you may not know about many of the initiatives under way. This is the main reason why the Council of the League (COL) has decided to provide this facility. 

The Hub will allow the COL to advise members of initiatives that are being developed, about to be implemented, or even just being thought about. It will not be a substitute for Federal Orders or the various other communications platforms currently in use, but it will act as a less formal means of keeping you “in the loop” and inviting and responding to your questions and feedback.

Whether you are a Warrant Officer, Group Commissioner, Squadron Captain, or Associate Member, you are an adult member so your feedback and questions will be listened to. You are able to provide these by filling out the feedback form. Please ensure that you have placed you name and membership number in the appropriate box before you press the “submit” button.

Fair and thoughtful questions will be published along with a response from the COL. Feedback will be taken on board and, where actioned, the source will be acknowledged.

The aim is to add new content at least weekly, if possible, so please keep checking back to see what’s new.

Council of the League

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