Wednesday, May 9, 2012

letter from Ruth Harley CE Screen Australia

10 May 2012

James Ricketson
316 Whale Beach Road

Dear James
I refer to the application which you lodged on 13 April 2012, and your follow up letter
dated 2 May 2012. This letter is a response to those communications, but I also wish to
address the broader question of your dealings with Screen Australia generally. 
Your application of 13 April is, once again, for development funding for Chanti’s World.
Your application acknowledges, at least implicitly, that under our current Documentary
Development Guidelines, this project is not eligible for funding on account of the number
of occasions on which you have previously applied for funding. You propose that two of
the previous applications ought to be disregarded, for eligibility purposes, given the
deficiencies in our assessment process which you contend have occurred. You also
appear to propose that the third application for Chanti’s World be disregarded, as you
chose to withdraw the same. If three of your previous applications applications were
disregarded, you would be potentially eligible for further funding, provided that we were
satisfied that substantial changes to the project had been made, relative to the original
Unfortunately, we do not see matters in this way, and in particular, we do not consider that
our previous assessments of this project were compromised as alleged. I note in this
regard that you took your concerns over those assessments to the Commonwealth
Ombudsman.   An investigation was conducted and a decision made that there was no
criticism of Screen Australia’s approach with respect to the matters investigated and no
better outcome than offered by Screen Australia could be achieved by investigating the
matter further.  I do not propose to traverse those concerns, which have been canvassed
in so many pieces of correspondence between us, again in this letter. 
It follows that your latest application for Chanti’s World is refused as ineligible, in
accordance with our Documentary Development Guidelines.
Turning to the broader question, after giving the matter serious and careful consideration,
Screen Australia has taken the decision that it will not accept further funding applications
from you, or engage in correspondence with you about funding applications. I appreciate
that this is an unusual step and one which we do not take lightly. However, we believe that
your conduct towards Screen Australia is unreasonable, and that your correspondence
places our staff at risk. We are under a legal obligation to protect our staff from
harassment and intimidation. Staff who have dealt with your correspondence have found it
stressful and their well-being has been affected. Your public statements in relation to our
staff have also caused distress, and appear to be calculated to damage the reputation of individuals and this organization. We reserve our rights in relation to those statements,
and we sincerely ask you to reflect on, and refrain from, such conduct going forward. 
In future, if you wish to make an application under the Freedom of Information Act or the
Privacy Act , you may of course do so,  but in order for any applications to be considered,
they must be addressed to (if by email) or to the Freedom of
Information Co-ordinator, Screen Australia, Level 4, 150 William Street, Woolloomooloo
NSW 2011 (if by mail).  Aside from such applications (when properly addressed), we do
not propose to accept or respond to any applications or correspondence from you. To be
clear, any correspondence which you send to us about the decisions notified in this letter
will not be read. 
Over time, Screen Australia may be willing to review the decision which it has taken in
relation to you. However, before doing so, we would need to be certain that our staff were
no longer placed at risk in dealing with you.  

Yours sincerely

Ruth Harley 
Chief Executive Officer


  1. Dangerous filmmaker at large! Asks too many questions. Expects answers! Who does he think he is!

    1. Wow! The lengths Screen Australia will go to to stifle debate, refuse to answer questions and generally act like a bully in its dealings with the film industry. I wonder what conditions James would have to fulfil to be able to engage in dialogue with Screen Australia again and have his applications considered? The removal of all criticism of Screen Australia from his blog I suspect.

  2. A lawyer's opinionMay 11, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    The legal onus is on Ruth Harley to produce evidence that Mr Ricketson has harassed or intimidated members of staff at Screen Australia in correspondence he has written. There is certainly no evidence of either intimidation or harassment in the letters published in this blog - most of which seem to be to Ruth Harley herself, the Ombudsman, Glen Boreham and Prime Minister Gillard.

    If Mr Ricketson has indeed sent threatening letters to members of Screen Australia staff, which he denies, Ruth Harley must produce them if her assertions are to retain any semblance of credibility. If she does not produce them, as Fiona Cameron has failed to produce correspondence that she claims Ricketson placed on file, Harley's assertions, in this letter, will seem to even the most dispassionate observer to be her way of intimidating Ricketson into ceasing, desisting, from criticizing Screen Australia in his blog.

  3. This is unacceptable! - Censorship and "bullying" of Applicants and the misuse of public Funds to Target an individual who has "dared" to question, questionable processes and organisations.

    It is acknowledged the nepotism and croynism in this organisation is caused - causing the decline of any sort Film "industry". In other countries some have an opinion that is it called "corruption"?

    Maybe Time for a "commission" withOUT all the usual "stakeholders" input and rely on Film makers rather than the Career "public servants".

    Time to consider, why a Australians is not appointed to Head up the SA and Sydney Film Festival?

    in light of these and other decisions, we should save time and money and Close the colleges and schools as the Career path for Australian film Professionals is need urgent review.

    There are plenty of Contemporary Australian Film makers that has vast international experience and success, but these are the ones that don't seem to received that objectives of the Guidelines and Charter of these public institutions.

    Change is NEED NOW!