25th September 2016 – WIA Board agrees to audit

WIA RG concerns vindicated.

 

VK6 broadcast item from WIA Director, Andrew VK6AS:

 

This has been a busy week for the WIA Board and I know that my co-director Paul VK5PAS and I have clocked up many hours of work in relation to two Board teleconferences that have taken place.

We are fully aware of the concerns being voiced by a few that we are just disruptive troublemakers.

This is far from the truth. We just have major concerns about the state of the WIA in terms of finances, governance, procedures and practice.

Last Tuesday, Paul attempted to put a motion but after nearly an hour of discussion this didn’t happen. The board agreed to adjourn to a later date.

On Friday evening a further teleconference was held and as announced on the WIA website:

“Two directors proposed a motion calling for a financial audit and review of operations of the Institute by a registered auditor for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016.

That proposed motion was amended during the meeting to require at least two fixed quotations that would identify the significant costs involved and that the motion be put to members.

The amended motion was passed unanimously, and a general meeting of members will be called to vote on whether the proposed review and audit should proceed.”

In the opinion of Paul and I, this an excellent outcome. We appreciate that such an audit and review for 2014, 2015 and 12016 will be an expensive exercise, but we are of the view that this is essential to get a clear picture of exactly how the institute has been performing, how we are positioned at the present financially and also in terms of risk management as well as guidelines to develop best practice in corporate governance and up to date accounting standards and principles.

The audit will also report on the appropriateness or otherwise of oral or written contracts that the WIA has entered into for the last three years.

We also believe that the report is likely to confirm that the Board requires restructure to become the executive of the WIA rather than the management and that a restructured committee structure of volunteers will all add to a reduction of criticism that the WIA has had recently.

If my comments are widely published as they have been then there will likely be a flurry of activity on social media, this issue cannot be resolved in that forum.

It is important that you recognise that the Board has moved forwards so that a considered decision on the future of the WIA can be made. The membership must decide at the general meeting on the cost benefit of this exercise.

This is WIA Director, Andrew VK6AS

23rd September 2016. Open Letter to WIA Affiliated Clubs

Dear fellow WIA members,

We know many of you share our concerns regarding the board of the WIA and its actions.  The continued mis-management and ongoing failure of the Board to recognise these failings is of major concern to every Australian Radio Amateur, and the affiliated clubs, all of whom by association have a vested interest in the welfare of the WIA.

The issues with our board are not isolated incidents.  What we have are systemic and cultural problems that impact every element of the operation of our WIA.  If you’re uncertain of the issues, take some time to read our newsletters and articles.

In the last few days one VK3 club have issued a formal statement.  If you haven’t already seen it, it may be read here

We are aware that a number of other affiliated clubs are having similar conversations and may well issue their own public notices in the coming weeks.

We encourage you to distribute GGREC’s open letter to your members and, if you haven’t already, get your club and committee to start discussing the issues.

In the interests of balance, we invite you and your members to look at both sides of the debate:

http://www.wia.org.au/

http://www.wiarg.org

 

To quote Ian VK3BUF, President of GGREC, in his letter:

 “every club needs to have a position.  It is not acceptable to say that the issues are not in the interest of Amateur Radio.  The management of the WIA goes to the very core of our hobby.”

  

The WIA is supposed to support the clubs and promote the hobby.  Now is the time for all clubs and hobbyists to stand united and demand change.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and the future is likely to be very difficult indeed if we continue to allow the current Board to function in the current manner.

WIA Directors Andrew Smith and Paul Simmonds have both raised concerns with the board which have been met with aggressive resistance from the other directors; to the extent that Board relations and effectiveness are now in complete disarray.

Board meetings have descended into yelling matches with the entrenched bloc of directors behaving apparently more like disgruntled football spectators than leaders of our hobby.

Our institute is in trouble.  Serious trouble.

In the interests of transparency, some amateurs have raised questions around how much truth there is in the allegations the WIARG have helped raise.  Most reasonable people would agree that even if only half our allegations are true then there are still many serious issues with the WIA board and their management.

Let us be very clear – our allegations are backed by written documentation or email conversations from the people involved.  Other sources are Board minutes, publicly available information or reports from the Board that have been inspected by professionals.

Our editorial policy is very simple – no substantiation; no publication.

In order for the WIA to survive, Paul and Andrew will need the support of ALL WIA members now they have made their concerns public.  Let the President know that you support Andrew and Paul.  Contact him on 0418 161 733 or send him an email philwait@bigpond.net.au

The board continues to censor both Andrew and Paul’s efforts to run news stories on our national news services.  Both Directors and the WIARG will continue to press for our side of the story to be heard in these open forums and our journal, Amateur Radio. In the meantime, our website, Facebook pages and Twitter feed will keep you updated.

Write an email to the Editor of AR (editor@wia.org.au) and the National News Broadcast (nationalnews@wia.org.au) service asking that they publish the facts.  (please copy us in on feedback@wiarg.org). Only with your voice will we overcome these draconian measures being taken by the President to censor open communication of these real issues.

If, like many others, you feel strongly about this, write your own open letter to your fellow clubs and the WIA.

 

Please 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.

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

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.

 

WIA Reform Group meet with ACMA

WIA Reform Group members Glenn Dunstan VK4DU and Chris Chapman VK3QB met with ACMA managers in Melbourne on Friday 16th September to discuss the recent WIA RG sponsored on-line amateur licence conditions survey.  (read about the survey here)

Discussion was very positive, and covered a range of issues, including data modes for Foundation Licences, possible extension of the 160m band and streamlining of the examination system using modern technology.

The ACMA has asked for more details on the WIA RG proposals.  Clubs, WIA members and non-members alike in VK will be asked for their thoughts on various issues in the coming weeks.

WIA Board gags editor of AR magazine

The following email was copied to the WIA RG from the Editor of Amateur Radio Magazine, Peter Freeman, on 17 September.

The email was in response to a WIA member’s email, reproduced below.

The member’s identity has been removed for privacy reasons.

 

 

Dear xxx,

I am not censoring the WIARG. It is a decision of the Board, which
leaves me with no options.

Regards,

Peter VK3PF

On 17/09/2016 03:26, xxx wrote:
> Dear Peter and News Team.
> Please publish correspondence received from the WIA Reform Group
> instead of censoring it.
> Continued censorship and one sided representation of the issues raised
> by the WIARG is seriously eroding trust in the WIA and its affiliates
> and
> in doing so, you are denying the WIA membership a balanced view of the
> issues affecting them.
> The WIA Broadcast often finishes by stating, “/We Report It, You
> Decide/”, so
> please report it and let the WIA Membership decide!
> Regards,
> xxx  VK radio amateur.

Open letter from Gippsland Gate Radio and Electronics Club President

An open letter to WIA Affiliated Clubs in Australia, From Ian Jackson, President, GGREC
This letter has been composed with the highest regard to the interests of Amateur Radio.

The Gippsland Gate Radio & Electronics Club is based in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. We have been an active club for almost forty years now and have been a WIA affiliated club for the past 35 of those years. We are not the largest, nor the smallest group of amateurs in the region. We do most of the same things that other clubs do, Annual hamfest sales, field days, lectures, barbecues and projects. We maintain repeaters we have built ourselves, support the Scout & Guide movement each year and from time to time, stage Amateur exam events.

Like other clubs, our future is dependent upon good relations with the ACMA for continued access to the radio spectrum and access to a solid Examination and Licensing structure. For these things, we rely heavily upon the effectiveness of the Wireless Institute of Australia. As a club, we do what we can to bring new people into the hobby, but our resources are modest and like most clubs, confined to a local area.

For most part we have just been observers of the Institutes operations. We have seen the decline in both WIA members and Amateur operators in general and have been somewhat dismayed by the few initiatives raised at a national level to arrest this fall.

Our concerns were escalated earlier this year when we discovered that our Public Liability insurance policy, administered by the WIA had not been processed in a timely fashion, putting at risk our ability to meet in a public hall and stage events. This was for many of our members, the first sign that things were not as they should be.

We began to get member feedback that general enquiries to the WIA office by phone and email were not being answered in a timely way and often not at all. We learned that the institute was loosing money each week, that several WIA Treasurers had quit their positions and that a very expensive ‘administrative review’ had failed to improve this situation.

These are not subjective concerns, they are a matter of public record. Like many, we looked forward to the Annual General Meeting of the Institute to find what the Auditors can tell us about the true state of affairs, but instead found that there was no audit this year, just a review by an accounting firm who would take no responsibility for the accuracy of their report. Indeed, several financial discrepancies raised at the AGM and no informed accounts representative was on hand to answer these questions.

There has been a lot of discussion about this within our Club. We are proud of our affiliation with this national body. We want the WIA to represent us in the best possible light. WIA membership is not cheap and it’s hard for members not in full time employ to make these expensive payments each year, so it’s crucial to see that our contributions are being spent effectively.

The present model for conducting exams make it slow and difficult for new people to enter the hobby, particularly in rural areas. We don’t want to alter the standard, but we do want the examination process to be more accessible to candidates and allow them to move through this process in a timely way, for a reasonable cost.

In this past month we have found more information about present WIA management. We have learned that both ASIC and the ACMA are displeased with the performance of the Institute in a number of areas. We learned that two WIA Directors moved to dissolve the board and hold fresh elections. This is an extraordinary action, but other than knowing the motion was defeated by the rest of the board, we have few details. Our members want to know more about why this took place, but apparently the two directors are being prevented from having their reasoning presented on WIA news broadcasts and print media. Regardless of what they may be trying to say, this act of self-censorship appears to be an unprecedented attack on transparency.

As a Club, we have become aware that the ‘WIA Reform Group’ composed of ex-WIA office bearers, have started a presence on the internet. Their stated aim says they are about distributing information and seeking improvements to how the WIA is run. Even though similar conclusions are being drawn by many within our Club membership, we must be clear that this letter has been raised independently of that group.

The reason for this open letter is to discover if we are alone with our concern, or if other Affiliated Clubs also feel that there is much work to do before full confidence can be restored. Please discuss these issues with your members at length and see if a consensus of opinion can be reached.

We would like to hear from you.

The WIA is a Public Company owned by its members and not by its board, so full transparency and certainty are really important to us. We want the WIA management to be as good as they can be. We wish to support our peak representative body and want help promote our amazing hobby into the foreseeable future.

Sincerely,

Ian Jackson VK3BUF,

President GGREC.

 

18th September 2016 – Board report from VK6AS

From the VK6 broadcast of 18 September:

 

You will know that in broadcasts over the last few weeks I have been less than complimentary in my opinion of what has been happening at the WIA Board over its reluctance to consider change.

On a positive note, one matter that the Board agreed to, was to enrol directors onto four online educational courses produced by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  There was a cost to the WIA, but the value added return will be huge.

The first module was on “conflict of interest” which is clearly an area in which the Board requires education, the next was on “board governance” that confirmed my view that our Board has a long way to go to be compliant, the third was on the “mindset of the director” where it was pointed out that directors needed a “helicopter view” and to be divorced from day to day managerial roles, a lesson most certainly to be learned by the WIA board, and last an excellent module on the “role of the director” explaining that perhaps consensus decision making was less effective that of a collective approach.

Once the other Board members have had the time to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest these modules, then we should see a change in approach by the Board resulting in very positive changes at the WIA.

This is Andrew VK6AS WIA Director

16th September 2016. WIA Reform Group – News Letter Number 21

Our Directors are being censored

Good afternoon,

As we reported, last month WIA Director Andrew Smith went public to alert members to the scandalous state of affairs within the Board of the WIA.

To recap Andrew’s message:

Andrew stated that “financial reporting is in disarray.  On my estimation our Institute is losing over $1,000 a week.”  He goes on to alert members that the “board is self-centred and not prepared to examine itself both under our constitution and more importantly the Corporations Act of Australia”.

Now Paul Simmonds has followed suit.  The efforts of both these Directors to publish the facts via member broadcasts and journals have been denied.  Clearly, the President and his Board cronies don’t want members to know just how dysfunctional and ineffective our board is.

The President informs members that there is a “difference of opinion between directors concerning the integrity of the board, and how the WIA should be administered. “

Clearly there is more to it than a “difference of opinion”.  Professionals like Andrew and Paul do not spend their own money seeking legal advice because of a “difference of opinion”.

We now have three Directors and three Treasurers who have all raised serious concerns over the professional and ethical behaviour of this board in just twelve months.  And let’s not forget, this board has not had a Treasurer attend any Board meetings since July 2015 (with the exception of January and February 2016).

There has been no accurate financial reporting since July 2015 and no budget since mid-2015.  All we have seen is a Financial Report at the AGM riddled with errors and an Acting Treasurer who publically admits that he has no accounting knowledge.  This was followed up with the President’s version of “Bucket Economics” this month.

And only now, three months after the last Treasurer took his pay cheque and resigned, has the President finally seen fit to advertise for a replacement….a fifth Treasurer in twelve months….

Even the most sceptical reader must accept that this President is not being open, honest or transparent with members.  The Board of the WIA is in open conflict and is incapable of fulfilling its duties.

Every week we get phone calls and emails from VK amateurs who are unaware of the issues.  Please help us spread the word; discuss the issues with your friends and forward this newsletter to those in your personal networks.

Every VK amateur and WIA member deserves to know the truth.  This President is doing his best to censor any balanced articles or reports that do not align with his own personal agenda.

We call on all amateur radio news broadcast services and the editor of Amateur Radio magazine to stand up against censorship and publish this public interest story.  The only broadcast service that has stood up thus far to the culture of intimidation and bullying is the VK6 News team. 

Our Institute and hobby are at risk.  The Board is actively censoring this fact.

It is opportune to quote the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics:

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy.  Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.

The Society declares these four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media.

Something our news services may like to consider…..

 

As we’ve mentioned in the previous few weeks, positive action is being planned.  The WIA is supposed to support the clubs and promote the hobby.  We call on affiliated clubs to take action.  Now is the time for all clubs to stand united and demand change.

Andrew Smith and Paul Simmonds will need the support of ALL WIA members now they have made their concerns public.  Let the President know that you support Andrew and Paul.  Contact him on 0418 161 733 or send him an email philwait@bigpond.net.au

At the same time, contact Peter Freeman, the Editor of AR (editor@wia.org.au) and the National News Broadcast (nationalnews@wia.org.au) service asking that they publish the “other side of the story” (please copy us in feedback@wiarg.org).  Only with your voice will we overcome these draconian measures being taken by the President to censor free speech.

 

Please 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.

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

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.

 

11 September 2016 – Board report from WIA Director VK6AS

The following article was broadcast on the VK6 news for 11 September 2016:

 

Well as they say a week is a long time in Politics. Not that I thought that being a director of the WIA was going to be jam packed full of politics, I thought it was going to be hard work for the betterment of the amateur radio community and to improve our hobby, but I didn’t expect to be having to propose motions of no confidence in the Board, declaring that the Board in my opinion has no Policies or procedures, no corporate governance and was fiscally incompetent.

As the President has reported the vote was lost 5 to 2, which was not unexpected. It is my belief that the other five members of the Board expected that the two who supported the motion would resign but we have not, as we believe we can achieve nothing from the outside.

What we have done is to take legal advice from an expert in corporate law. You will have heard Paul VK5PAS make a statement elsewhere in this bulletin. I am in exactly the same position as him.

We have been advised that now is not the time to make further comments, especially on social media about what is happening at the Board. As soon as is practicable we hope to be able to make a statement that will explain to you, wia members and non members alike the issues that concern us and the functioning of your Board.

Both Paul and I are passionate supporters of the WIA and we are aware that this action may seem to be damaging. That may be so in the short term but we believe that we will all benefit in the long term if issues at the WIA are resolved.

Please maintain and renew your membership as it falls due, we need as many members as possible.

We have both received notes of concern about legal costs and would like to report that at present the legal opinions and actions are being supported personally by us both.

I would like to thank everyone who has contacted me with expressions of support and reiterate that I only have the best interests of the Amateur Radio community in Australia as my concern. It was a difficult decision to go down this path but I felt that there were no other options.
This is WIA director Andrew VK6AS

 

9th September 2016. WIA Reform Group – News Letter Number 20

Hello again,

The WIA Board is now clearly in open conflict; change is now inevitable.

From the August Board Newsletter, the President advised:

“For the first time in very many years, certainly within my time as a WIA Director, we are seeing a real difference in opinion between Directors concerning the integrity of the Board, and how the WIA should be administered.

 The first item of business <at the recent board meeting>, following a review of action items from the previous June meeting, was to consider a motion of no confidence in the Board brought by a Director. Although he thought the motion could be challenged, the President decided to allow the motion in the interest of open discussion.

 The Director moving the motion expressed the view that he was very concerned the Board was not acting in the best interests of the WIA, and therefore proposed that in view of its incapability of acting properly, it should resign, an independent administrator be appointed to run the business of the WIA, and elections be held. The President had previously released financial information that shows the WIA is tracking slightly behind the financial position of last year but has a good opportunity to improve that situation, (please see the President’s Comment in September AR Magazine for more information).

 The motion was put and defeated 2 for, 5 against. The President agreed that all Directors should be concerned about correct processes, and stated that a top priority at the meeting was moving ahead in finding a new WIA Treasurer without delay.”

 

Clearly two Directors have had enough and are commencing actions to bring about much needed change.

On 6th September 2016 WIA Director Paul Simmonds made the following announcement:

 

“This is WIA Director Paul Simmonds, VK5PAS. As a result of various concerns raised with me by many members in my capacity as a Director of WIA, and also because of my own concerns, I have recently sought legal advice with regards to a number of issues pertaining to the Wireless Institute of Australia. Further enquiries are underway and I will be making further comment in due course”.

Later the same day, WIA Director Andrew Smith followed up with:

“Just in response amateurs should note that I am a party to the legal advice as advised by Paul Simmonds and just as he states after further enquiries I will be making further comment.”

 

Anyone who knows Paul Simmonds and Andrew Smith will attest to them being entirely professional, level headed, mature and of good character.

We can only assume what legal advice and/or action is pending, but it’s fair to say that neither of them would have chosen this route without good reason.

Just how dysfunctional has our board become for it to come to this?  Why has the President allowed matters to degenerate to this level?

As we have been saying for months, the WIA requires a new Board with the skills and mindset to adopt contemporary business practices.  A Board that engages with members and manages the resources of the WIA responsibly. 

No doubt Paul and Andrew will issue further news in the coming days.

Stay tuned……  QRX (standby).

We’ll continue to support the only two board members who share our vision.   A strong WIA is critical to protect our hobby.  We encourage every radio amateur in Australia to be a member.

To read our vision for an effective WIA visit http://wiarg.org/our-vision-for-the-wia/

As we’ve said the last few weeks, positive action is being planned.  But we need to ensure every member is made aware of the facts.

Please 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 directly.

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

 

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.

 

06 September 2016 – WIA Directors VK5PAS and VK6AS have sought legal advice

The following was posted on Facebook by WIA Directors VK5PAS and VK6AS in the evening of 06 September:

 

“This is WIA Director Paul Simmonds, VK5PAS. As a result of various concerns raised with me by many members in my capacity as a Director of WIA, and also because of my own concerns, I have recently sought legal advice with regards to a number of issues pertaining to the Wireless Institute of Australia. Further enquiries are underway and I will be making further comment in due course”.

 

Andrew SmithJust in response amateurs should note that I am a party to the legal advice as advised by Paul Simmonds and just as he states after further enquiries I will be making further comment.