First published in 2009

Noble Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The Bali peace park project was foundered by Australian, Dallas Finn in the lead up to the first anniversary in 2003 of the Bali bombing, where he was informed that the former Sari club site was available for sale, he than raised the idea to purchase the site.

In December 2003 he returned to Bali to pursue the idea of building a peace park and peace centre on the former Sari club and Paddys’ site.

During this time he started a grassroots campaign within the Balinese community, working closely with the traditional village administration of Kuta and Yayasan Gelombang Udara Segar, which was appointed by the village of Kuta heads to assist him on the ground in Bali.

Over the past seven years Mr Finn worked closely with various community organisations, Balinese Government Officials,business and community leaders, the Australian Consulate and Embassy and Australian Government officials, including Kevin Rudd now Foreign Minister to Australia, former Senator Chris Ellison promoting the Bali peace park concept, whilst maintaining stakeholder support in Bali.

On the 2nd April 2004 Mr Finn received a letter from the village of Kuta requesting to form a group of trustees to establish a peace park. He then returned to Sydney with the letter to pursue various avenues.

In this time he made several return trips to Bali and Perth, he then was invited to address the Chamber of Commerce in Sutherland, through his cousin. The Sutherland Shire had lost 7 people. Also in this time, Mr Finn worked closely with the Balinese community through various community events and the media to raise awareness of the peace park project.

In November 2004 a meeting was held with the now Governor of Bali Drs I Made Mangku Pastika, with representatives from Yayasan Gelombang Udara Segar and Mr Finn, who invited the former chief of Police to become the Indonesian patron for the project.

Mr Finn then followed this up with a successful meeting with former Australian of year 2005, Dr Fiona Wood in Perth, whom agreed to become the Australian patron for the project.

Mr Finn returned to Bali raising issues concerning the ownership of the former Sari club site. In this time heads of the village made contact with the former club owner and several meetings where held to no avail.

Mr Finn with the help of Yayasan Gelombang Udara Segar placed an advertisement in the Indonesian newspaper Kompass. Contact then was made and a meeting was held in Jakarta to discuss the prospect of purchasing the site. Prior to this Mr Finn organised an independent valuation, through Jones Lang and Lasalle.

The sites were valued at – AUD $650,000 for the Paddys’ site and AUD $750,000 for the Sari club, taking into account at what happen there.

Mr Finn flew to Jakarta to meet with the brother in-law of the land owner to discuss the proposal for purchasing the Sari club site, they gave Mr Finn a figure of 3 million USD.

Former Chief of Police and Governor of Bali
and Patron of the Bali Peace Park Project

On Mr Finns return to Bali a meeting was called with the heads of the village of Kuta and community stakeholders and the Australian Consulate Brent Hall and Brian Diamond, pertaining to the meeting in Jakarta with the landowners.

Over the coming weeks, Mr Finn continued to have meetings with various stakeholders to look at various avenues to persuade the owners to sell.

A meeting was organised in Bali with the brother in-law to look at a land swap deal, which they did not accept.

Mr Finn then flew to Perth to meet with Nick Way and Simon Quayle who advised him to move to Perth, in which he did after selling all his belongings in Sydney.

Mr Finn on his return to Perth, met with former Senator Chris Ellison to discuss the project who then raised the issue with former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. Over this time Mr Finn maintained stakeholder support with the Balinese.

He then returned to Bali after being tipped off that the Balinese were going to pull out from the project. Meetings were called with all stakeholders involved. Issues were raised that the Balinese were requesting letters of support from Australia.

In December 2006, Mr Finn was advised that the Balinese Government would like to see a design of the park. Mr Finn then recruited Made Wijaya and his team. A meeting was held with the Balinese government in early 2007 where the design was submitted.

On his return to Perth, Mr Finn met again with former Senator Chris Ellison to discuss the progress of the peace park and to push to form a group.

In October 2007, Mr Finn returned to Bali and over the next 5 months met with Government officials and stakeholders, NGOs and the Australian Consulate, culminating in a community meeting being held to address concerns on various issues pertaining to the site and other factors.

He then returned to Perth in late February 2008. A number weeks later he received an email from the Balinese stakeholders advising him they could no longer accommodate the peace park.

Mr Finn then went public in the Sunday Times and was contacted by former Senator Chris Ellison. A meeting was held at his office in Perth to address issues concerning the peace park.

In mid 2008, the Association was formed. Mr Finn became disillusioned by the direction the Australian peace park Association was going, including comments made by the spokesperson, Phil Britten and others in the media and the direction of the website.

One of those comments made by the spokesperson was that ‘This was an attack on Australia’ Mr Finn replied to this that ‘it was an attack humanity’ in which it was.

Mr Finn was also asked to sign a Power of Attorney in which he was advised by his lawyers not to sign. This started a chain of events within the Association to remove him.

There were also issues pertaining to the website in which an Australian flag was placed at the top of the website and the focus was on instilling Australian values. Mr Finn made it clear that this could offend not only the Indonesians but the many countries involved as each country’s values are different and that the website should remain neutral. Mr Finn was suspended from the Association for standing up for what he believed in.

In June 2009 Mr Finn was expelled via text message the night before he flew out to Bali, saying his services were no longer required.

On his return to Bali, Mr Finn realised that building was about to commence on the former Sari club site and through his contacts he was able to have the building stopped. This lead to a meeting with the Australian Consulate and the Governor of Bali. Mr Finn also raised this with the Indonesian and Australian media. Had he not intervened, there would now be a night club on the site.

Several weeks later, Nick Way the chairman of the Bali Peace Park Association, approached Mr Finn and asked him what it would take to have him return to Bali to enter negotiations with Kadek, the current leasee of the land, despite the fact that they had expelled Mr Finn from the association. Mr Way then asked for Mr Finn to draw up a proposal, only to be told a few days later that they had no money to send him, nor that his services would be required, yet another disappointment by the Australians – a country that prides its self on supporting the under dog, clearly this not the case here.

Over the last 7 years Mr Finn has come up against many obstacles and people. To truly understand his journey, one must put themselves in his shoes. It can be difficult to understand, unless you have lived and worked in Indonesia. Dallas Finn is a person of integrity, humility, compassion and yes outspoken. From the start he all wanted in return was what he put into it,,,the question here is how hard is that?

Only recently a Facebook group was formed to give people an avenue to openly discuss the peace park, only to have it shut down by the Association. Clearly this is a breach of freedom of speech. Our concerns here, is that the chairman of the Association is a journalist himself and the association is presenting a one sided view, where discussion should be free and open to all.

Mr Finn solely funded this project from the sale of his apartment over the last 7 years with no support from Australia.