11 April 2016

The Club Public Liability Insurance brokered by the WIA expired on 1st April 2016.

Unfortunately, this is not an April Fool’s joke.  To date, the invoices for public liability insurance renewal still have not been received by the clubs and no information was provided to affiliated clubs by April 1, 2016.

There was a flurry of activity when the large clubs notified the WIA office of the issue that resulted in a 14 day extension.

The WIA has still not provided any formal notice from the insurer of the 14 day extension aside from a few words on the website.  The following notice, apparently blaming clubs for this debacle, was provided by WIA President, Phil Wait on 6th April – 6 clear days after the insurance policy had expired.



Well, here we are on the 11th April.  The supposed 14 day extension lapses this coming Thursday at 4pm.  As far as we are aware no clubs have received any further updates.  No invoices for payment have been received. No certificates of currency.

Given the (now commonly known) delays in getting post delivered, we encourage all club secretaries to contact the National Office and to check their post boxes daily. Has the WIA National Office even sent out the invoices yet?

By the time you get the invoice, get cheques organised and signed as required by your clubs’ own procedures and then get the payment into an envelope it’s almost certain the 14 day insurance extension will have expired.

Will you consider locking your doors or seeking alternative insurance as some clubs have done?  Make sure your club’s office bearers understand the risks of not being insured.

We also encourage all clubs to check their 2015 insurance paperwork. Did you actually get a Certificate of Currency from the insurance broker Annis Group Pty Ltd.?

The documents on the WIA Website all reference the cover provided in 2014. Why has this not been updated?

Were you even insured in 2015?  Did you pay for insurance that you didn’t get?

We are aware of one club that sent a cheque to the WIA in March for its insurance.  The cheque has still not been presented and no response has been received by the club.

Please take the time to check your insurance status.

The WIA Reform Group will continue to work on behalf of all VK amateurs to bring greater transparency and accountability to our WIA. Please stay up to date and encourage your members to visit our website.


Chris Chapman VK3QB  Rowan Dollar VK8RD  Glenn Dunstan VK4DU

8th April 2016. WIA Reform Group – Newsletter Number 1

Good morning,

Thank you for contacting us to share your concerns.  Chris Chapman, Rowan Dollar, Glenn Dunstan and others have all attempted to drive change with the Board of the WIA either from within, or by way of direct correspondence.

These efforts have been unsuccessful.  Hence the WIA Reform Group was formed in March 2016.

Your emails and messages resonate very strongly with our core values and objectives: those being to create an effective, efficient and member focused WIA.

You told us some concerns we were already aware of, but we have also learnt of other equally valid concerns.  Areas like:

  • Concerns over the education and training delivered by WIA approved programs
  • Communication and action in support of the smaller states
  • Acknowledgement and responses to individual concerns from members
  • Issues with ACMA and how it’s officers interact with the Australian amateur community
  • Genuine concerns over elected board members conduct and behaviour

And of course many responses have been from non-WIA members, whose concerns are equally as valid and valued.

Where to from here you ask?  The WIA Reform Group is not going away.  We have written to the WIA Board asking for their direct and immediate action over recent issues of inappropriate board conduct, conflict of interest, incompetent service delivery, poor financial decision making, communication failures and various other failings.  We have sent further letters to the Editor of Amateur Radio magazine which we hope will be published.  (edit – they were refused publication…)

As the results of the Ballot are posted and the Annual Report is published later this month we will be ready to raise further issues and will be preparing for the 2016 AGM on Norfolk Island.

In the meantime, we’ll keep you updated with a brief weekly email.

We are campaigning to make every Australian Radio Amateur aware of the issues and asking them to get involved.   It’s a big job and not something the three of us can do alone.  Please spread the word.  Forward this email to your local club and friends.  Contact the National Office and Board Members calling for positive action.

Many of you have remarked that we need to make more specific proposals for removal of the Board and overhaul of the WIA. To that end, we are developing a plan for the future of a new, member-focussed and transparent WIA.

This is detailed on our recently modified website home page at www.wiarg.org .  Unlike the Board, we listen to feedback….


We welcome your thoughts, experiences and ideas for the future.

Until next week,

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


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

Letter to AR from VK3QB. Refused publication by the editor.

Dear Peter,

Last month I wrote a letter to the editor where I raised a number of issues.  Whilst the responses were inadequate, I thank Phil Wait and the Board for their acknowledgement of the need to address some of the issues.

Members can decide the appropriateness of our President quoting philosopher Niccolo Machiavello in an attempt to excuse unprofessional behaviour and poor conduct.  The “new order of things” has certainly proven to be “uncertain in success”.  It didn’t need to be.

The issues of financial management were not answered either fully or with complete transparency.   The Board is charged with managing OUR money with professionalism and regard for maximum benefit to the members.  EVERY financial decision should focus on benefit to members.

Phil Wait advised he attended the National Office with the WIA accountant, auditor and Mr Swainston in late February 2016 and informed members of the following:

“We spent several hours analysing the accounting system and the financial records and determined that the WIA did not appear to have any major accounting issues. Accounting processes and record keeping has been very much improved in the last few months, and major problems with the WIA’s upcoming annual financial review are not anticipated. On the information available at the time of writing, it seems the WIA has no major financial issues. We expect the Auditor’s review to go smoothly and the financial result for 2015 will be available after that.”

Auditors are not responsible if inadequate financial management occurs for the previous 12 months; they won’t care that we make a profit or loss; so long as the books are in order at the end of the year.  So, whilst the President reports that there appears to be “no major accounting issues”, will the President confirm that there are no other material financial management issues or even a collection of small but important issues?

To ensure transparency for members I ask the President to answer the following:

  1. A former Director (Rowan Dollar) requested a P&L statement be prepared in the latter part of 2015. The Acting Executive Administrator and WIA Director, Fred Swainston was unable or unwilling to produce such a statement and the Board did not react to what was clearly a major warning flag. Within 2 weeks of becoming Treasurer (late January 2016), it was clear to me that the financial processes and accounting system  were in such a poor state that it was simply not possible to produce a representative P&L statement or Balance Sheet for 2015.  How were financial decisions made during this period?   Would the President explain to members how this represents “very much improved” accounting processes?
  2. In February I presented a P&L Statement to the Board; it highlighted some very serious compliance and performance problems due to entirely inadequate financial management practices in the National Office over the previous 5 months. I asked that the Board review and approve a set of actions to remedy these issues.  My request for Board comment was ignored; it was not held over to a later meeting as claimed.  Can the President explain to members why the Board ignored yet another major alarm that the National Office was out-of-control with finance processes?

Other questions (just a representative sample) that the WIA Director Mr Swainston, whilst in the paid role of Acting Executive Administrator is requested to answer:

  1. Were Accounts receivable and payable being actively managed each month?
  2. Are delays of 3 months to reimburse expenses to volunteers acceptable?
  3. Was GST and BAS processed on time for the second half of 2015 (during which time the WIA was paying an accountant to attend the office)?
  4. Were fines incurred for late payment of invoices?
  5. Were invoices paid multiple times?

Members should be alarmed that the previous two Treasurers have raised serious concerns with the manner in which the finances and accounts were managed between September 2015 and January 2016.  Further, the culture that existed during this period led to the dismantling of key operational procedures that exposed the Institute’s accounting system to financial errors as well as potential fines.  Sure, much of it can be fixed, but how much of the members’ money is being spent on an external accountant during this period and now as a paid Treasurer to remedy problems created between September 2015 and January 2016; a period during which a WIA Director was also being paid to act as Executive Administrator?

Many members are mindful that the WIA turns over about $500,000 per annum and has gone for some years making losses, or at best, a very small profit.  Tight business and financial management and prudent decision making during this period is critical to our future.  At least one of the reports I saw coming out of the National Office was vastly different to the numbers being reported by the Accounting System.  When I questioned a WIA Director on the matter I was advised “not to worry.  It’s just to give the Board an indication of how well we’re doing”.  Really?  I received a similarly dismissive answer when I asked about the lack of an end-of-year inventory count.  And again when I queried why a volunteer was not being reimbursed for a valid expense claim.  Very much improved?  Appropriate conduct for a Director?  I don’t think so.

Can the President prove that members should not be concerned that financial management is far from “very much improved” and that an unhealthy and arrogant culture persists within a key faction of the Board.

A functioning Board should be a positive experience for all Board members.  A functioning Board should enable its members to raise issues that are acknowledged and discussed in an open and collaborative environment.   The fact that the Boards’ culture and conduct led me to resign after just 6 weeks (and three other Board members in the previous 5 months) remains unaddressed.

To ensure members have access to a balanced record of the facts a website has been established.  Please visit the WIA Reform Group website for more info.  http://www.wiarg.org

In closing, I have a few questions for the President.  In the board newsletter Number 8/9, August September edition, the President stated that

“The operations at the WIA Office were considered in detail. This review was based on an office review that was completed by an external consultant”. 

After being questioned a number of times, the President advised the Facebook community in early March that the external consultant was Silverdale Training & Development.  This fact was also provided in the April edition of AR Magazine.  What has not been revealed is that WIA Director, Fred Swainston, is also a Director of this company.  Why was this fact not revealed to members?  Did the Director in question notify the Board of a conflict of interest?  Do the Board minutes reflect these decisions?  If office operations were considered in detail, why was a subsequent journey of discovery required?

WIA Members deserve far better than weak quotes from dead philosophers, poor decision making, and inappropriate Board conduct.


Chris Chapman VK3QB

WIA Member

Letter to AR from VK8RD. Refused publication by the editor.

Dear Peter and Members,

I’ve never written a “Letter to the Editor” however in these dark days of WIA history I feel compelled to do so. I apologise for the length of this letter but would urge all to read it fully.

I was elected to the Board of the WIA in May 2014 and continued until 26th December 2015. In my letter of resignation to Mr Wait, I quoted numerous instances of inappropriate Board behaviours including conflicts of interest, arrogance, incompetence, mismanagement, nepotism, bullying, egotism and self-promotion combined with a general disdain for members and any good business sense and practice. I could not ethically continue and to have done so would have tarred me with the same brush.

Whenever a politician is under pressure they will half answer a question or direct your attention elsewhere. So it was with Mr Wait’s answers to Mr Chapman who raised serious issues most of which were not actually answered by the Board response. Will this letter get the same half-truths and non-answers? When the Board tries to spin away from these facts or only half answer questions please remember I was there. I have the Board minutes and other communications.

WIA directors are volunteers and are elected. Mr Wait presents this as an excuse for poor behaviour, poor ethics and unprofessionalism. Mr Wait and I had discussed the problems with the VK2 and VK3 Board members for a long time. Mr Wait, the members expect and are entitled to professional behaviour and ethics from any member representing the WIA membership whether elected or not. Volunteers are no more entitled to behave badly or to feather their own nests than a paid employee would be.

My proverbial last straw was Mr Waits’ response to a request I made of the National Office Manager, Mr Swainston, a long serving Board member, asking for a Profit & Loss statement and Balance Sheet. As a director I had an obligation on behalf of the members to ensure that the books are in order. According to Mr Wait it was not the WIA’s normal business practice and I would have to wait until the review was completed in time for the AGM (6 months time!). Any accountants I have spoken to have a differing view that the books should be reported on at least quarterly if not monthly. Mr Wait and Mr Swainston could not supply me with a Profit & Loss and Balance sheet a few weeks ago, then how could they possibly know that revenue has increased?

Mr Wait has subsequently publicly stated that there are “no major issues” with the financial affairs of the WIA. Good news indeed. Note the use of major. Politicians use qualifying words all the time to distance themselves from any fallout – no major issues, no problems we are aware of etc. Mr Wait did not mention the small issues like the WIA’s accounting systems being in such a huge mess that they were in no state for the audit review, late payments of tax, fines incurred because of late payments, volunteers and members not being reimbursed expenses in a timely manner and many others. Being a director is about trust too. Trust isn’t spin.

Ask about technology in the 21st century or question WIA director Mr Broomhead’s WIA operations and he will quote “security” issues to you. The security audit often quoted was done a decade ago and is not relevant. The only security risk is the outdated systems being relied upon by the WIA and protected by Directors, Mr Harrison and Mr Broomhead both without any relevant professional experience. There are specialist companies that will do a much better job for far less money.

In the Open Forum report last year Mr Broomhead wrote “…another project completed in 2015 was the upgrading of the WIA Office file server and computer workstations… These have brought about enormous improvements in productivity and efficiency for our WIA office staff.” If this is the case, then you should wonder why it took Mr Swainston six months on his “mission of discovery” especially when he refused to ask advice of the then recently resigned Treasurer. Where is the value to members in all this expenditure?

Mr Wait publicly proclaimed the “independent consultant’s” review of the National Office carried out in 2015 that resulted in the last Manager being removed from his post. Ask yourself, if Mr Broomhead’s spending thousands of your funds resulted in “enormous improvements in productivity and efficiency for our WIA office staff” then why did Mal Brooks have to go? Surely responsibility for performance lies as much with the employer as the employee? Why are there more people in the office now than a year ago? When Mr Wait states that “much improved feedback from members” is being received I wonder how that is being measured? From what I have seen the grumbling has increased. Some examples being emails not being answered for months if at all, the current election debacle with members not receiving Ballots and WIA polo shirts being sent without logos!

In March 2016, after continued questioning, Mr Wait nominated a female owner of Silverdale Training and Development Pty Ltd as being the elusive “independent consultant” who carried out the review of the National Office. Most members will realise that Mr Swainston is a director, owner and Chief Executive of the very same company. The review report has not been made available to the Board. The recommendation accepted by the Board to remove Mal Brooks was made by Mr Swainston. How independent was the review, exactly?

Following the review, Mr Swainston’s appointment to the well paid position of Office Manager was approved by the Board for a period of 6 weeks in August 2015. A further approval was gained by Mr Swainston at the Board meeting in September for a further 6 weeks, at which two Board members were absent (Mr Platt and myself). No further approvals were made. The Board paid Mr Swainston $2060 per week for the 6 months it took to hire a new Manager. Nice work if you can get it! According to the last treasurer the financial processes in the office are a complete disaster. The Board is now spending thousands more of your dollars sorting out the mess when they had two treasurers for free. When your annual fees go up remember the current free spending Board.

To my knowledge there was no performance management, no contract, no governance and certainly no transparency during the tenure of Mr Swainston. In fact, the Board and the President did everything they could to hide the identity of the “independent consultant” from members as far back as the September issue of Amateur Radio. I queried the conflict of interest under the Constitution, barring a director or member making a profit above market rate, and was told that Mr Swainston was running the office as a consultant and not a Director or member so the Constitution did not apply!

In the last AR News, the appointment of the new office manager Mr Deefholts was announced and clearly stated that he has corporate and not-for-profit experience. Not quite true according to Mr Deefholts’ online career profiles. A career with Telstra and Hewlett Packard is hardly not-for-profit! Whilst admirable, a few years as a volunteer fireman at Toolangi in VK3 is not experience managing a not-for-profit organisation. If I had applied with relevant experience and qualifications, I would be wondering why I didn’t get an interview as I’m sure many now are.

Speaking of Toolangi, it is the same small country village, population of 289, that Mr Swainston’s company is registered in. Coincidence?

I voted against the directors’ junket to Norfolk Island. I believe it is elitist, alienates a large proportion of the membership and I was the only dissenting Board member. If members want a holiday on Norfolk Island then that is their own business but for directors to expect an all expenses paid Pacific Island holiday shouted by the members is galling. No clubs were canvassed to see if an alternative location was viable. It is not too late to arrange a mainland location. I wonder how may directors and staff would attend if they had to pay their own way?

Mr Wait spoke of “Board discussions and agreement” regarding Mr Broomhead’s vehicle storage yet I don’t remember reading in any minutes nor being involved in a discussion about Mr Broomhead renting space from the WIA to park his car. It is possible that there were so many other major issues like governance and conflicts of interests on the Board absorbing my time that I failed to notice. Maybe I was left out of that particular discussion again? Of course, once the issue was brought to the members’ notice he has agreed to move his car so no harm done right? I believe a director using their position to gain access to benefits not available to the general membership is abhorrent.

A request was made to the President late last year for the WIA to fund a well-known amateur and his company to produce a training application for iPhones. I felt it inappropriate to use your money to promote this amateur’s private company. Mr Wait’s response was that the amateur “…has a very long association with the WIA and has been a major force in (amateur radio).” No paperwork, no contract, no governance. Look at the authors of the top selling books from the WIA bookshop and you might notice a potential conflict of interest too.

An enormous opportunity was lost in 2015 when two VK4 amateurs approached the WIA Board with a proposal to easily secure 1.9Mhz and 70Mhz allocations for VK. Board members allowed personal vendettas with at least one of these amateurs to result in no action being taken. Thanks to the current Board you do not have access to 1.9Mhz or 70Mhz.

As members we deserve better. Our hobby should be thriving and not being left to die slowly. We deserve a WIA that has a representative from each main call area not just the select few, a Board planning strategy not the next Pacific trip, a functioning committee structure, a functioning relationship with ACMA and government generally to promote our hobby as the technology innovators in this country, proper governance and transparency. We deserve better value for our membership fees and a greater say in how our money is spent.

All the current elected Board members need to resign immediately and we need to resurrect the WIA and hobby in VK. They need to be replaced by an experienced management team from across VK to save the Institute and the hobby. This needs to happen urgently.

You might be like me – angry and disappointed. Question these people; phone them, email them and talk about it on your nets, social media and at your club meetings. Emails to the Editor of Amateur Radio. It is important.

There’s more. No steak knives but a litany of issues, conflicts and troubling challenges which need repair. You may or may not read this letter in Amateur Radio however it will be published online and sent to clubs regardless. If you do read this, then please go to www.wiarg.org and get the facts without the spin.


Rowan Dollar (VK8RD)

WIA club insurance delayed

The renewal of the WIA Public Liability Insurance Policy for affiliated clubs has been delayed.

The policies are currently operating under a 14-day grace period negotiated at the last minute by the WIA.

We have been advised that communication of the delays in renewing policies for the clubs has been non-existent until after the event.

A number of clubs have sought their own cover, some have locked their clubhouse doors because of quite legitimate fears over a lack of public liability cover….

This has caused considerable disruption and unnecessary angst to clubs.

None of this was necessary had the Board and paid officers been performing their duties properly.

Clubs wishing to receive a copy of the email from the Insurance Broker extending the Club Insurance cover for 14 days from 1st April 2016 should contact the WIA office.

Board response to letter to the editor – April AR magazine

Dear Peter,
Chris Chapman raises a number of issues
concerning WIA governance and financial
practices. He also highlights potential conflicts
of interest in appointing Director Fred Swainston
as a paid contractor for a limited period, and the
rental of some warehouse space to another WIA
Director, Robert Broomhead.

Firstly, in addressing Chris’s issues, it must
be noted that Paul Simmonds, appointed as a
Director on 5 January 2016, was not part of
the events outlined and is not party to this reply.
Secondly, we must provide some background so
members can put things into context.
By mid-2015, the Directors were receiving
many adverse member comments about delays
and diffi culties in dealing with the National
Office, and the number was increasing. Directors
expressed the opinion that fundamental change
was necessary to improve customer service and
prepare for the possibility of increasing workloads
resulting from the Spectrum Review.

In May the Board commissioned a report
into office operations. Prepared by Silverdale
Training and Development, it identified some
key deficiencies. A Board meeting was then
convened at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport in
August 2015, and a summary of the fi ndings
was presented. The Board resolved to restructure
the WIA Office, replacing the existing Office
Manager position with a higher level Executive
Administrator. Subsequently, the existing
Office Manager position was made redundant.
Consequent on that, the Board decided to task
WIA Director Fred Swainston with improving the
offi ce processes, procedures and work-flow in
preparation for a new Executive Administrator
appointment, and to ensure continuity of service
to members.

The process of appointing Fred Swainston has
been raised as a conflict of interest in that he
was a WIA Director, and the Board did not seek
competitive quotations on the open market.
The Board viewed that, as the role was
highly specialised, required key knowledge,
and that seeking outside quotes would critically
delay action, engaging an unknown person
was potentially a higher risk. Fred had intimate
knowledge of the Office and its very specialist
work, was immediately available, and could work
for the WIA for a limited period of time at a very
reasonable rate, the cost of which was already
provisioned in the WIA accounts for the total cost
of the Office Manager.

As required of all Directors where a conflict
of interest may exist, Fred Swainston was
absent from the vote at Tullamarine when his
appointment was decided. No concerns or
objections were raised by other Board members
or the Treasurer. In September, Treasurer John
Longayroux resigned unexpectedly. Fred, assisted
by Robert Broomhead, then had to embark on
a “mission of discovery”, without benefit of any
hand-over period from the ex-Treasurer, having to
learn all the WIA’s various banking, membership
and fi nancial systems from scratch, requiring
many, many man-hours. Necessarily, there was a
short period when the accounts took a back seat
to the day-to-day business.

Regrettably, the task was found to be
more complex and took longer than expected.
Over about a five-month period, Fred was
successful in making the Office more effi cient
and responsive to members. He established
improved, written procedures for enquiries and
the general office workflow, introduced new
office security measures, and caught up with the
accounting entries. The Offi ce now works much
better from a customer service and business
systems perspective, we are now receiving much
improved feedback from members, and revenue
has increased.

The reality is that, in small volunteer
organisations like the WIA where Directors are
also doers, sometimes things need to get done
expeditiously. In retrospect, it may have been a
better ‘look’ to seek competitive quotations, but
this weighed against the greater risks identifi ed,
and it is doubtful the outcome would have been
as successful.

Fred’s work was completed at the end of
February, allowing for a two-week handover to
our new Executive Administrator, Bruce Deefholts.
Fred continues to provide support to the Office in
his capacity as a WIA Director.

Members were kept informed of the key
changes through WIA News.

Regarding the circumstances behind the
rental of factory space, Robert Broomhead
approached the Board in September 2015 with
an offer of $2200 per year to tenant a vehicle
space within the WIA factory space on a casual
basis to provide the WIA an additional income
source. The rent offered being similar to other
comparative rentals in the area. Robert stepped
back whilst the matter was discussed and
resolution passed by the Board which approved
the rental arrangement. However, in order to
avoid any possible perception of a conflict of
interest, Robert has agreed to end the rental and
relocate the vehicle, a refund will be provided for
the remaining rental period.

Chris Chapman became the new Treasurer on
5 January 2016. After a few weeks and four or
five visits to the office, Chris delivered a Report to
the Board’s February teleconference, his second
Board meeting, expressing concerns about
accounting processes and raising the various
governance issues.
Chris is unhappy that the Board only
addressed part of his report at that February
teleconference. The priority was to address the
most immediate issue – the ability of the WIA
to present accurate accounts to the Auditor at
the upcoming financial review, and those were
the items discussed from Chris’s report. Chris
also requested, and was given, authority to use
the previous Treasurer as his assistant. Chris
resigned on 23 February 2016.

Monthly Board teleconferences are time constrained
and each needs to address many
issues. The other items in Chris’ Report, not
being time-critical, were discussed at the Board
meeting on 1 March, after his resignation. The
Board views Chris’s statement that his advice
was ignored does not accurately describe what
Other corporate governance issues Chris
raises include not removing his access to
the computer systems for four days after his
resignation, the absence of risk management
especially when key people resign, and security
of computer passwords. We did consider
removing Chris’ computer access, but, as we
are a volunteer organisation that still believes in
the concept of goodwill, we decided to maintain
Chris’ computer access for a few days in case
of unforeseen events during the handover to
the new Administrator. His access was revoked
probably around the time he wrote the letter.

Chris rightly points out that corporate
governance issues are important, and that
includes succession planning and risk
management. The Board agrees, and we
could have done better. However, volunteer
organisations constantly struggle with succession
planning and the loss of key personnel. The WIA
is no different.

The Board has resolved to instigate a full
review of WIA corporate governance and
procedures over the coming year, which would
naturally include risk assessment.

Determined to get to the bottom of the state
of the accounts following Chris’s resignation,
President Phil Wait called a meeting at the
National Offi ce with Fred Swainston, new
Executive Administrator Bruce Deefholts, our
accountant and the Auditor.

They spent several hours analysing the
accounting system and the fi nancial records,
determining that the WIA did not appear to
have any major accounting issues. Accounting
processes and record keeping has been vastly
improved and major problems with the WIA’s
upcoming annual fi nancial review are not
anticipated. On information available at the time
of writing, the WIA has no major financial issues.
We expect the Auditor’s review to go smoothly
and the financial result for 2015 will be available
after that.

The WIA’s professional accountant, Murray
Leadbetter, has agreed to act as an independent
paid Treasurer for as long as required, and
was appointed by the Board at the 1 March
teleconference. The Board considers this is the
best course of action to remove any suggestion
of bias or impropriety.

In summary, is Chris correct that the WIA
needs to improve its governance? Yes, no doubt.
The President has directed that all WIA Directors
will be required to attend a short course on
corporate governance. Remember, WIA Directors
are elected and come from diverse backgrounds.

Are there any serious issues concerning the
WIA’s finances and accounting practices? On all
the information currently available, no.

Was the travel expenditure for the August
Board meeting justified? Has the WIA achieved
the best operational outcome by the actions of
the Board? We believe, emphatically, yes.
The WIA Board of Directors

Letter to the Editor – published in April AR magazine

Dear Peter,

As many members will already be aware, I resigned as Treasurer of the Wireless Institute of Australia on 23rd February 2016, after a short six week tenure.  During this time I identified major areas of concern and presented the board with a path to fix these problems.

The Board ignored my advice and, as such, I was unable to perform my responsibilities in the best interests of the Institute or its members.  I have ethical and professional concerns about how our Institute and its finances are being managed.   Members should rightly be concerned about the state of the WIA, and should be asking questions.   I am not suggesting any fraudulent or criminal activity, but members should be concerned about good business practice and independent, impartial decision making.

I am bound to a level of confidentiality by the Corporations Act.  So to those people who have contacted me asking for details, I thank you for your interest (and support) and I apologise for not being able to share specific details.  It is the Board’s decision as to what information they share (or don’t share) between themselves and with the broader membership base.

The WIA is a Public Company limited by guarantee.  The Board is voted in by us, the members, and they have an obligation and responsibility to operate in accordance with the Constitution and the Corporations Act.  They are also expected to make good business decisions and operate with sound business practices.

Board members need specific skills as well as a broad understanding of the regulations and industry in which they operate.  Being a keen hobbyist is not enough.  Running your own private business is also a different matter – it’s your business, your money and your decisions.  Sure, there are rules you need to abide by: Tax, Employment, Corporations, OH&S etc, but it’s still different to a Public Company.  There are clearly some similarities and overlaps that can make a business owner a good Board member.  But there are other critical skills.  One is a strong appreciation of governance and what this means in a practical sense.

Governance is the process of decision making and the process by which decisions are (or aren’t) implemented.   I refer to an article which in part, describes good governance in a Public Company environment.

“It is about considering the interests of the organisation and members before any personal interest.  Putting the interests of the organisation ahead of your own shouldn’t be that complicated.  Many people cannot see that their well-intentioned involvement puts their interests ahead of the organisations…..  Where a Board member has a direct financial relationship to the organisation, the other Board members should seek competing bids and document that the provider with the conflict is the best provider for the organisation, or ask the person to step off the Board.  This is not “firing” a Board member and should not imply any disgrace whatsoever.  It just means that sometimes the best way to serve the organisation you care about is not to be on the Board”


Given the recent resignations of 2 Treasurers (and one assistant Treasurer) and at least one Board member due to what is clearly a genuine concern over the operation of the Board and management of the National Office, I ask that the Board provide members with answers to the following:

  1. Has Risk Management been considered and implemented; it needs to cover key areas such as: financial, operational, strategic and regulatory management. After 5 months in office, should the paid Acting Executive Manager (and Director) have addressed the following and advised the Board:
    1. Are the skills required for each portfolio within the WIA’s business properly understood and resourced?
    2. Are all business critical systems and processes properly documented?
    3. Are there succession plans? What happens if a key person resigns or becomes unable to perform their role?  Think of areas like Financial Management, Web site Management, Management of the ACMA Contract Services (Exam Services and Callsign Recommendations).
    4. Is the WIA using appropriate technologies and processes to enable efficient and effective information sharing, service delivery and record keeping?
    5. System passwords are taped to computer monitors in an open office environment. Volunteers, contractors and staff can easily see these notes.  Has the National Office implemented a policy for security and user access to IT resources and online banking?  Are user logons shared?  Have documented security policies been communicated to volunteers and staff?
  2. Another very topical example as I write this letter: Why is it that 4 days after resigning I still have access to the Institute’s accounting system (MYOB) and online banking.  Why am I still receiving confidential reports from the Institutes business systems?   Should the Board be concerned that the National Office does not have knowledge or control over such important aspects of the business?
  3. Proper consideration to conflict of interest is given whenever a decision is made that has the perception of a conflict of interest. The most recent examples being the appointment of a Board member to the temporary role of Executive Manager at the National Office and the other being the rental of floor space for vehicle storage to another Director.  Can the Board illustrate to members that any possible conflict of interest was discussed and documented, and an appropriate strategy was adopted?  Has either of these arrangements been subjected to any competing bids and/or market assessment or skills assessment?
  4. Has the Board undertaken a proper and critical review of the operation of the National Office and the change process that has recently been implemented, given that these activities were performed by a Director being paid for the services?
  5. There have been claims that many processes and decisions are not transparent or readily available for review. Can the Board show members that it has investigated these claims and taken appropriate actions, if required?
  6. Has the Board assessed its own culture and conduct given the recent resignations/departures of Board members, staff and volunteers?
  7. Can the Board explain to members why its needs to spend a considerable sum of members’ money on external consultants, accountants, auditors and travel, when for years the Institute has been able to rely on the efforts of volunteers to manage its accounts and financial affairs?
  8. Has the Board considered Corporate Governance training for existing and new Board members?

I am a staunch supporter of the WIA and believe we need a strong Institute to represent us and our hobby.  It is the responsibility of the Board and its members to ensure those obligations are executed with professionalism, transparency and competence.  I welcome answers that put these matters to rest.



Chris Chapman

WIA Member