Licence conditions survey results June 2016

If there is one thing that we amateurs hold dear, it is licence conditions.

In April this year, the WIA board put a submission to the ACMA proposing a radical overhaul of amateur licence conditions.  Standard and Foundation class licencees were to be given access to many more bands.

As we pointed out in our analysis of the WIA board’s submission:

The WIA RG notes that there has been no consultation with WIA members, or indeed the general Australian amateur population, on these changes. They were simply presented to the ACMA by the WIA board as a fait accompli.

 Does the WIA board have a mandate to go to ACMA proposing a major restructure of the amateur radio service without any consultation?

 We would argue that they unequivocally do not.

 

It seems that no one bothered to ask the average amateur what they think….  So, we set about to change that.  In early May, we published an electronic survey on licence conditions, using the Survey Monkey platform.

We have received more than 600 responses to the survey.

These are detailed below.

 

Question 1 – are you a WIA member?

1

63.3% of respondents indicated that they were members, and 36.7% were not.

Question 2 – what is your licence grade

2

65.7% Advanced, 15.9% Standard and 18.4% Foundation.

This split generally represents the amateur demographic by licence grade.

Question 3 – how long have you been licenced?

3

35.7% have been licenced longer than 25 years, 37.8% between 5 and 25 years and 26.5% less than 5 years.

The majority of respondents are therefore experienced practitioners of amateur radio.

Question 4 – should FLs have access to data modes?

4

54.7% were in favour and 45.3 against.

A majority were in favour, but the margin is relatively close.  It seems that this issue is not as clear cut as many of us thought.

Question 5 – should FLs be able to build their own equipment

5

34.5% in favour, 65.3% against.

A clear majority feel that construction of equipment is outside the ethos of the FL.

Question 6 – should FLs have access to more bands

6

An overwhelming majority – 74.1% – feel that the current bands allocated to FLs are sufficient.

Question 7 – If you answered yes to 6, which bands?

7 

Although this question is rendered moot by the response to question 6, the majority felt that the FL should have access to all HF bands, 6m, 2m and 70cm.

Question 8 – should Standard Licencees have access to more bands

8

Again, a clear majority – 60.9% – felt that the current bands allocated to Standard licencees were sufficient.

Question 9 – if you answered yes to question 8, which bands?

9

Rendered moot again by the response to the previous question, but a majority wanted all bands.

Question 10 – do you support combining the Advanced and Standard licence, thereby reducing licence grades to two (Advanced and FL)?

10 

 An overwhelming majority – 71.5% – were against this option.

Question 11 – if you hold an Advanced licence, would you undertake a supplementary course in EMR safety to allow you to operate high power?

 11 

 A clear majority – 63% – were in favour.

Question 12  – If you hold an advanced licence, would you support changes to the licencing syllabus to bring it into line with the latest technical and safety advances in amateur radio, such as software defined radios, advanced digital modes and electromagnetic radiation safety?

12

There is unambiguous (88%) support for revision of the Advanced syllabus.

 

Conclusions

In the interests of transparency, we offer the following details regarding the survey method.  The WIA Reform Group used the Survey Monkey online survey tool.

The survey was made available online to all Australian amateurs with internet access.  We did not target specific interest groups.

Links to the survey were provided on our website, distributed to clubs and interested members via email and made available on various Facebook pages.  The only requirement was that respondents needed to have internet access.

http://help.surveymonkey.com/articles/en_US/kb/How-many-respondents-do-I-need

The above link should answer any questions you may have regarding the statistical outcome that resulted from this survey.

We used the following metrics:

  • Population size: 10,000 (probably too large given many amateurs are not active, and many don’t really care about the hobby enough to take an interest).
  • Margin of error: 5%
  • Confidence Level: 95%
  • Recommended sample size: 370 (actual number of respondents was 616; another 9 responses would have given us a 99% Confidence Level)

A clear majority of respondents support the current incentive based licencing system – i.e. band access is a function of technical knowledge, as demonstrated by examination.

The existing band allocations/privileges per licence grade and the number of grades are seen as appropriate – the majority feel that extra bands for the lower two grades and FLs being able to construct their own equipment would undermine the incentive based system.

This is clearly at odds with the WIA board’s submission to the ACMA.

One area where changes were supported was data modes for FLs.  This is a logical step and should be progressed without delay.  A slight modification to the FL syllabus is obviously required.

It is pleasing to see that Advanced licencees are very keen to upgrade their syllabus to include modern technologies.

Similarly, there is a recognition of the importance of EMR safety for high power operation.  A logical next step would be the development of an EMR safety module by the requisite specialists.

However, the survey results raise serious questions as to the legitimacy of the WIA board’s recent submission to the AMCA.  The WIA board have no right to propose sweeping changes to our licence conditions without any consultation.

The results of this survey prove that the WIA board’s submission to the ACMA does not represent the views of Australian amateur radio operators.

We therefore call on the WIA board to immediately withdraw their submission to the ACMA.

Yours sincerely

G.C. Dunstan VK4DU,  C. Chapman VK3QB,  R. Dollar VK8RD

www.wiarg.org

 

 

25th June 2016. WIA Reform Group – News Letter Number 9

Hello everyone,

Since last week we have written to the WIA Board following up on commitments made by them at the AGM.  In particular, we have asked them to answer a number of outstanding questions, and to provide clarifications to other questions which received inadequate attention.

The President made a commitment to refer questions back to the Treasurer and we will keep asking until that commitment is honoured.

Unsurprisingly, the President made no mention of these matters in his report in the July issue of Amateur Radio Magazine.  Refer to last week’s newsletter for the AGM details.

We have asked the board to answer the questions openly and honestly, and then follow-up by publishing a budget and monthly P&L statements.  The two new directors indicated that they supported such an approach in the lead-up to the election.  There is no reason why the WIA Board should not share the financial status with members.

Three of the last five years have been financial losses – the WIA really is, at best, treading water financially.  We’ll say it again, there is $57,000 less cash in the bank at the end of 2015 than at the start. At the halfway mark for the year, it would seem the WIA is on track to make another loss in 2016.

When will the Board stand up, be accountable and actually do something to right the ship?

We are all very well aware of the challenges, and some greater transparency will go some way to ensuring accountability and performance.

Most local radio clubs have far greater financial transparency. All the local clubs we are aware of report to members each month on the finances.

If the board can’t or is unwilling to report on the finances, then how well are the commercial agreements with the ACMA being managed?  What impact will this have on the WIA Examination Service?

Now, moving along, as promised, a brief report on the Open Forum from the Conference weekend on Norfolk Island.

As reported last week there were about 55-60 members in attendance.  The Open Forum started off well as attendees had availed themselves of the cake and tea following the AGM.  There were the formalities associated with recognising the great work done by the many volunteers and contributors, with awards and certificates handed out accordingly.  All in all, a good session with some well-deserved recognition for those who put in the hard yards.

 Of the 60 or so attendees, I would say about 10-15% made a contribution to the session.  This reflected about the same level of participation and interest as the Financial Report.  Apathy is the single largest threat to the future of our hobby and WIA.

 The Chairman then moved to the more strategic discussions – or lack of them.  No strategy was presented to members to address membership decline, affiliated clubs, financial performance, or growth in the hobby, education & training development or marketing. 

A number of constructive suggestions were put to the Board by members, including things like: leaving AR Magazine at the Doctors surgery as a way of growing the hobby; introducing a true digital magazine (move into the 21st century, reduce costs, improve member services); advertising on the WIA website to bring in some much needed revenue; introduce a “PDF magazine Only” membership class (reduce printing and postage costs); improve communication with members and clubs; introduce a one year free membership (PDF Magazine only) for new Foundation Licence holders; implementing a simple help-desk system at the National Office to manage the approx. 25,000 queries that it handles each year (keeping in mind about 15% of all queries to the office go unanswered).

 Many of the more progressive ideas were received with what appeared to be reluctance by the Board.  Rather, we were presented with “reasons” why such ideas would not work.  Many of these “reasons” illustrate that the Board does not have a handle on the realities of the internet or 21st century service delivery.

 There continues to be a reluctance by our Board to seek out expertise in areas they are lacking, and a propensity to cling to the old ways of doing things; not really very progressive for a hobby with such a rich history of technical development. 

 The WIA website offers good potential for online advertising.  Alas, our President stated that existing AR advertisers don’t have additional budget to cover online advertising.  This clearly illustrates a lack of appreciation for the potential of web based marketing. 

 Remember that the next time your membership fees increase, or our WIA makes another loss.  Or we have another year with $0 for club grants….. 

 It was somewhat disappointing that the bulk of discussion centred around all the possible places that old issues of Amateur Radio Magazine could be left; presumably to attract new members. 

Are kids really going to pick up an old AR Magazine whilst waiting for the doctor and then start nagging mum and dad for a radio, or WIA membership?  Really?  When was the last time you saw kids (or even young adults for that matter) sitting around doing nothing?  They are busy surfing the web, checking out Facebook, Twitter or Instagram on their mobile phones.  The WIA website is not even mobile compatible.  The WIA continues to find reasons not to have a social media presence. 

 Unless the Board is not telling us something, they appear to have no strategic plan for 2016 or for the upcoming 3-5 years.  What vision should we have for our hobby and WIA?  This was probably the most disappointing take-away from the Open Forum; our Board has no strategic plan.

 

Over the coming weeks we’ll continue to ask the Board to listen to what members want, improve the consultation process, and introduce some basic accountability and transparency.  We’ll lobby for improved performance from our directors and we’ll continue to provide positive contributions. We’ll continue to remind these men that they are our elected representatives, they are there to protect our hobby.

Word about the WIA Reform Group continues to spread, but we need your help to reach all members.

Our efforts to publish letters in Amateur Radio Magazine continue to be denied. Why are we being censored?  We are members – we have a right to air our views in the national magazine.  Our views are substantially less controversial than some columns that continue to be published….

Forward this email to your local club and friends.  Take a copy when you meet local amateurs for a coffee. If they contact Feedback@wiarg.org we can send them a newsletter direct.

Continue to contact the National Office and Board Members and ask for your questions to be answered.  Ask them to publish a budget for 2016 and issue monthly P&L statements.  It only takes the push of a button in the MYOB package by the Treasurer.  No effort or cost at all.  Then we can all be informed.

Email us if you have questions or concerns.

Stay up-to-date with news and progress; – visit  www.wiarg.org .

We’ll continue to challenge this Board and demand better results.  A strong WIA is critical to protect our hobby.  We encourage every radio amateur in Australia to be a member.

Until next week,

G.C. Dunstan VK4DU,   C. Chapman VK3QB,   R. Dollar VK8RD

Ps. We don’t want to spam you.  Send us an email if you’d prefer we remove you from our mailing list.

 

The WIA needs YOU

WIA membership is in decline.  212 members did not renew in 2015 and 150 have followed suit so far in 2016.

This is an alarming statistic – an 8.5% decline in 15 months.

We can certainly sympathise with those who have voted with their wallet, however the Institute needs members.  Badly.

The WIA must change if it is to survive, and the only way to drive change is from within.

Please consider re-joining.

If you are not intending to renew your membership this year, please reconsider….and if you have never been a member, please think about joining.

The WIA can be a modern, member focused organisation, effectively representing our interests to Government – but we need your help to turn it around…..

73

WIA RG

16th June 2016. WIA Reform Group – News Letter Number 8

Good morning,

We have been busy behind the scenes over the past few weeks.  Since our last newsletter (23 May) we’ve been amazed with the responses to the “Your Licence Privileges” with almost 600 respondents.  We’ll get a report out to you with our comments in the coming few weeks.

But, now to something far more pressing; a report from the AGM.

As reported prior to the AGM, this is what the WIA Directors achieved in 2015:

  • Income down almost $6,000
  • Expenses up a staggering $72,000
  • Cash in bank down almost $57,000
  • Reported Loss of $12,680
  • Membership down by 212 or 4.7%
  • $0 provided for club grants

If you have an hour to spare, watch the recording of the AGM.

Chris VK3QB attended the AGM on Norfolk Island and provides this summary:

About 55-60 members were in attendance.  My single biggest observation that should alarm all members was the (nearly complete) apathy and disregard for the Board’s performance, the financial results and inability to answer reasonable questions with any competence. 

 It appeared that the bulk of those present were simply not interested; they were on Norfolk Island for a nice holiday and were clearly uncomfortable that questions were being asked of the Board.

 There was a collective sigh of relief when one vocal member stood up and announced that he was a former accountant and auditor and that everything was ok.  To paraphrase; “There was no need to worry and the board should be congratulated for their efforts”. 

This well-orchestrated piece of grand-standing was met with applause and cheers.  Clearly the bulk of those present wanted to hear a “good news story”. 

This same gentleman advised after the meeting that the financial position of the WIA didn’t matter and that members didn’t really care.

I sincerely hope that his attitude does not reflect that of the bulk of members who were unable to attend the AGM.  I don’t believe it reflects the attitude of the newly elected Board members.

 Of particular note, the treasurer was not in attendance.  The Acting Treasurer (Director Fred Swainston) opened his report by advising members that he was, quote “not an accountant and definitely would never want to be one, honestly” unquote. 

One could only assume that Mr Swainston’s intention was to prepare members for an inability to answer financial questions adequately. 

 It should be noted that contracting firm Trainsafe (Director Fred Swainston) undertook a well-paid engagement to manage the WIA National Office and WIA finances from August 2015 to March 2016.

 On the back of a reduction in cash of about $57,000 (that’s $1,096 cash out the door each and every week in 2015) I provide just a few examples of questions and answers from the AGM:

Q: Why are Awards costs up from $997 in 2015 to $5,517 in 2015?

A: The Acting Treasurer advised this was an error by the auditor

 

Q: What is the sum of $8,091 listed as Professional Expenses, and what services were provided?

A: These expenses relate to the third party transactions they should be technically allocated under Employment Expenses and that’s actually an oversight. (we can assume therefore Trainsafe).

(one wonders if this amount was also declared in the “Related Parties Transactions” – or if this is another “error”)

 

Q: Why are the ACMA revenue numbers markedly different in the report (`$66k) to what is calculated (~$57k) based on the data presented in the Directors Report?

A: The Chairman (Phil Wait) was unable to answer. The Acting Treasurer was unable to answer.  The Chairman advised he would “Refer that to the treasure for his comments”.

 

These are just three examples of reasonable questions about the finances, and those are the answers provided by the Board; clearly members of the WIA deserve better. 

The directors have a fiduciary duty to manage our finances and be able to answer reasonable questions.  It is my opinion that they have failed that test.

 The Financial Report was accepted, but certainly not unanimously.   The secretary will have the final count, but I estimate there was about 48 votes to accept and 30 votes to reject. 

Another very serious failure of good governance was witnessed when the Chairman refused a reasonable request to note on the meeting minutes that “even though the Financial Report has been accepted, it is acknowledged that there are errors and unanswered questions relating to material aspects of the WIAs business, that being the contract with the ACMA.”

 The AGM then closed and the majority made a bee-line to the tea and cake they had been eyeing since staff started setting the tables 45 minutes earlier. 

At this point I wish to thank those members who entrusted me with their proxies.  I also applaud the nine members present who were prepared to challenge the appalling status-quo and vote against accepting the financial reports.

It was especially disappointing that so many members present at the AGM simply failed to take any serious interest in the financial stability and good management of their WIA.” 

 

So many more questions could have been asked, but it was apparent that the Board and majority of members present were simply not interested in open, honest reporting.  A few examples include:

  • The WIA has ~$57,000 less cash in the bank? Where has it gone?  The WIA has reported a loss of only $12,680 and the President, Phil Wait attributed this to “exit payments of two WIA staff members in 2015”.  Given the bulk of these exit payments would have been covered by balance sheet transfers, where did the ~$57,000 go?
  • Why is it that membership is down by 212 members, but membership income was up by $15,309? (simple maths…  212*$95 = $20,140).  That’s a difference of over $35,000
  • Why do Bookshop, Foundation Licence Manuals and Callbook sales and costs just not add up? Review 2015 revenue and costs against those of 2014.

Please take the time to review the Financial Report.  Whilst the AGM is behind us, every member should be demanding the Board illustrates it has control over finances this year, and they must be held accountable for last year.

A good start would be for the board to answer the questions openly and honestly, and then follow-up by publishing a budget and monthly P&L statements.  It is the only way this Board can illustrate it is managing our money competently and responsibly.

 

Word about the WIA Reform Group continues to spread.  Forward this email to your local club and friends.  Contact the National Office and Board Members and ask for all questions to be answered.

Ask them to publish a budget for 2016 and issue monthly P&L statements.  It only takes the push of a button in the MYOB package.  No effort or cost at all.  The we can all be informed…..

We are now all paying for an accountant to look after the books, after all… how much, one wonders?  Why isn’t any member willing to step forward and offer their services as Treasurer?  Is there a reluctance to grasp the poisoned chalice, perhaps?

Email us if you have questions or concerns.  Next week we’ll provide a summary of the Open Forum session from Norfolk Island, as well as some positive ideas for the future.

Stay up-to-date with news and progress; – visit  www.wiarg.org .

We’ll continue to challenge this Board and demand better results.  A strong WIA is critical to protect our hobby.  We encourage every radio amateur radio in Australia to be a member.

Until next week,

G.C. Dunstan VK4DU,   C. Chapman VK3QB,   R. Dollar VK8RD

PS. We don’t want to spam you.  Send us an email if you’d prefer we remove you from our mailing list.