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.

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.

 

2nd September 2016. WIA Reform Group – News Letter Number 19

Moving the WIA from Loss to Profit while reducing member subs. 

 

Hello again,

It can be done.  The WIA can move from being an out-dated dinosaur that loses $1,100 per week, to a dynamic 21st century organisation that represents its members and delivers even better services.

And, most importantly for you, membership subscriptions could be lowered significantly.  The WIA would go from losing $12k (and draining our funds by $57k) in 2015 to making a surplus of $50-100k once the transformation was complete.

How could this be achieved?

Firstly, and most importantly, we’d need a massive change in leadership style and culture.  We need a new Board.  A Board that focuses on operating as a collaborative team, a board that utilises 21st century business models and the cost efficiencies these offer.

Secondly, members would need to accept a change in the way in which some services are delivered.  It’s called innovation and moving with the times; and amateur radio operators have a proud tradition of stepping up to both of these concepts.

The WIA currently does a lot of things that are not core business.  They run outdated IT systems, a bookshop, an empty warehouse and a publishing house.  All of this spends our membership fees at a great rate for very little return in actual advancement of amateur radio in Australia.

The WIA needs to stop spending cash doing things with no return.

What follows is a brief description of the actions required to bring about these changes.  If you would like to see the details behind these actions and how they relate to current income and costs structures please follow this link:  What-if

 

Move the National Office into a smaller more efficient space

The WIA does not need a 400sqm factory in the outer suburbs of Melbourne for two staff and a bookshop/QSL Bureaux .  Meetings with government are normally at their office and the board rarely, if ever, meets face to face at the Melbourne office.

The existing WIA office would be leased out on commercial terms and the WIA would rent a more suitable office.  This action alone would save considerable money for the WIA and enable it to provide improved services to all members.

 

Move as many business processes and services as possible to the Cloud or digital space.

This would include most office functions and the ACMA Contracted services (Examination and Callsign Management services).  Not only would this drive down  costs (employment and office running costs), but the WIA would become vastly more efficient and responsive in delivering members services.

We only pay for what we need, when we need it.  Specialists secure our information and help us when required.  The big cloud companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft spend hundreds of millions a year on security.

Moving into the Cloud means that volunteers and staff can access the system they need to help the WIA do business from wherever they are.  There is no need to go to a physical office.  This is the same principal as using online banking to pay your bills – you no longer have to go to the bank…..

 

Progressively migrate Amateur Radio magazine to a digital platform.

We acknowledge that this is a big leap for some members.  There is no doubt some members like receiving the paper copy of the magazine each month.

However, this is a proverbial bullet that must be bitten….

Paper magazines are an out-dated channel for communicating with members (news is six weeks old, at least…), they are incredibly expensive to produce/distribute and they can’t compete with the functionality and services of a digital magazine.

According to the member survey completed by the WIA a couple of years ago, over 96% of members use the Internet daily.

Moving to a digital AR would save the WIA over $100k per year.

 

Introduce more progressive services to attract revenue and new members

The WIA could earn more money from advertising, commission structures, improved education and training offerings and of course, more members.

The ARRL, for example, offer a wide range of value added services for members.

 

Reduce membership subscriptions from $95 per year to (for example) $50 per year.

With greater efficiency and more members, the cost per member becomes lower. This lower cost is returned to members in the form of lower subscriptions and increased services.

Not only would this reduce the burden on members, it would also encourage others to join.

Why should we pay $95 just because the current Board refuses to look at more efficient ways to run our WIA?

In future years any surplus could be used to develop better education services, increase promotion of the hobby, sponsor worthwhile projects and offer more services to members.  It could even be used to lower subscription fees further….

The WIA requires a new Board with the skills and mindset to adopt contemporary business practices.. 

 

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 .

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.

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.

 

28 August 2016 – Report from WIA Director Andrew VK6AS

From VK6 news:

 

Last week’s Board report provoked quite a flurry of activity around the traps.

I had given my apologies for the Board meeting that was held last Tuesday evening and as far as I was aware, appropriately, under the constitution transferred my vote to another director. Apparently there was some discussion about this that resulted in me being called to join the teleconference from Indonesia on my mobile phone. I await a significant bill!

Apparently another Board member was also absent and although a quorum was met, perhaps, in retrospect and in view of the serious nature of the discussions that were to be had it would have been wise to cancel and rebook at a time when all directors could be present.

The minutes of the meeting have not yet appeared to be ratified by the Board so I can only report my personal disappointment in the outcome.

Out of interest under the WIA constitution the ratified minutes are only available for inspection by members, by prior arrangement at the WIA HQ in Bayswater an eastern suburb of Melbourne, 30 kilometres from the CBD and so over 50 k from the airport. Don’t make a rush to go and see the minutes of the last couple of meetings as yet they have not been approved by the Board.

Again it’s a personal view that minutes of a Board should be more readily available to the membership and I will be trying to achieve this when proposals are made for changes to our constitution. Commercial in confidence and privacy related issues have been coped with by many organisations and so, in my opinion, the WIA should follow this path and this might be one further method to reduce the culture of secrecy that the institute is perceived to have.

A final comment that the WIA Board Notes for July have now been circulated and make interesting reading. If they haven’t arrived at your inbox they are available at wia.org.au

This is WIA director, Andrew VK6AS

23rd August 2016. WIA Reform Group – News Letter Number 17

WIA Director confirms WIA Board is in disarray.  President openly defies board.

 

Hello again,

WIA Director Andrew Smith VK6AS has alerted members with his concerns over a toxic board culture (“self-centred and not prepared to examine itself” are the words he uses) and financial mismanagement.  In case you missed Andrew’s news release, follow this link:

 

WIA Director Andrew VK6AS breaks ranks

 

Further to this, the July Board Minutes indicate clearly that the Board approved the release of the mid-year P&L Statement for members.  Yet the President failed to follow-through and instead defies a Board decision with his disingenuous “bucket economics” piece in the September AR magazine.  Sir Humphrey would be proud.

The President also reports that the Board is only just now seeking a Treasurer, despite knowing since early in 2016 that one was required.  Andrew Smith confirms this as well as advising the Board is operating without a budget or any meaningful financial reporting.

In the meantime, the President is treating members and the board with contempt.

First we get a Financial Report at the AGM riddled with inconsistencies and errors, an Acting Treasurer (also a Director and former paid office manager) with “no accounting skills” and now the President is glossing over financial incompetence with an incorrect use of “bucket economics”.

Assuming the facts presented are correct, these are the “meat and potatoes” from the President’s “bucket economics” report:

  • membership down 5.4% since the beginning of the year. (over 10% in 18 months);
  • membership income alone down over $20,000 year-to-date;
  • trading loss year-to-date of about $33k;
  • costs for the first half are up;
  • costs for AGM and Conference on Norfolk Island are down (this might be because Paul Simmonds and Andrew Smith didn’t claim their expenses – thanks Andrew and Paul);
  • delivery of ACMA Services runs at a loss. The Board doesn’t know the costs of delivering the services.  In spite of the President stating the contract made a small loss ($2,000), they report in the July Board Minutes that they are yet to produce the Annual Report for the ACMA – so how can they know the loss?  Which is it Mr President?; and
  • WIA is in breach of contract with ACMA – and the President has made a public statement to this effect.

 

The Board voted to release a P&L Statement.  Why has the President ignored this decision?  In spite of what the President states, a click of a button is all it takes to create a P&L and Balance Sheet out of modern accounting packages; if it has been properly updated and maintained.

WIA Director Andrew Smith confirms what we’ve been saying all along.  The Board does not have adequate control over the finances of the WIA and this is reflected in the President’s fanciful “bucket economics”.

They are operating without a budget; they have known the Treasurer was finishing up in June for months, yet only now they claim to be searching for a replacement (5th Treasurer in one year).

They are making guesses about possible future income and expenses.

They are unable to produce a financial report.

They are holding 4,689 Foundation Licence Manuals.  This must be 3-4 years of stock.  No business holds that much stock.  What happens when the syllabus changes?  We cannot believe that all board members would have approved such an irresponsible and sloppy outlay of members’ funds.

Lastly, the President is misleading members when he states “the majority of income comes in the second half of each year”.  The split is about 48:52 between the first and second halves of the year.  Hardly a majority.

Why is the President misleading members and concealing the fact that this board does not have a handle on our money?

Why is he over-riding a Board decision to share the mid-year P&L with members?

Every member should be alarmed that our President is overseeing a board that is out-of-control.  Every director has a fiscal responsibility to know the status of the finances.  Leaky “bucket economics” just doesn’t cut it.

Draining our funds to the tune of $1,178 per week doesn’t cut it either.

The President is hiding the truth from members.  The truth of the matter is he won’t show us the P&L or Balance Sheet because financial records and management are in disarray.

 

We continue to support Paul Simmonds and Andrew Smith who we know believe in transparency and responsible financial management.  Unfortunately, it appears they are being voted down in their efforts to bring much needed reform to our WIA.

Andrew will need the support of ALL WIA members now he has made his concerns known publicly.  Let the President, Phil Wait know that you support Andrew.  Contact Mr Wait on 0418 161 733 or send him an email philwait@bigpond.net.au.

Just how much money will this Board lose this year?  Can we allow them to continue leaking our money to the tune of almost $1,200 per week?  Can we allow this dysfunction, incompetence and lack of leadership to continue?

We have written to the President asking for their immediate resignations.  As soon as we get a response we’ll share it with you.

There are still many people who are unaware of the WIA Reform Group.  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 .

We’ll continue to support Paul and Andrew to challenge this Board and demand better results for all Australian Radio Amateurs.  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.

 

WIA Director Andrew VK6AS breaks ranks

WIA Director Andrew VK6AS has clearly had enough.

The following item leads the VK6 broadcast of August 21st:

 

I put myself up for election on the basis of the need for change at the WIA and you elected me.  I admit it has been a steep learning curve as a director but what has emerged from the WIA is not good.  The WIA has had no budget since 2014 currently we have no treasurer and our financial reporting is in disarray.

On my estimation our Institution is losing over $1,000 a week.

The board is self-centred and not prepared to examine itself both under our constitution and more importantly the corporations act of Australia.

I pointed out to the board that their approach is inappropriate and suggested measures to be put in place to rectify the situation.

Both you and I will have to see what is the outcome. I remain a director of the WIA.

This is Andrew VK6AS

 

WIA Board censorship in action…

The following email was received from the Secretary.

 

From: Jim Linton (email address removed)
Date: 19 August 2016 at 7:16:09 PM AEST
To: Chris Chapman (email address removed)
Subject: Access to Board Meeting Minutes

Chris Chapman

Hello Chris,

This is in response to your email ‘Access to Board Meeting Minutes’ addressed to the Secretary that was dated August 17, 2016.

In the 2nd last paragraph of it you seek advice on the process for an inspection of the Minutes Book.

Any member can ask to inspect the Minutes, making an appointment with the Secretary, but is not allowed to take away copies of the Minutes in any form.

If you wish to inspect the Minutes Book please ask for an appointment, and this will be considered. After an appointment is sought, if it’s suitable, will be confirmed in writing.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Rgds Jim Linton
Secretary

 

19th August 2016. WIA Reform Group – News Letter Number 16

Censorship, Secrecy & Intimidation.

Hello again,

Up until now, we have avoided making a public statement about the issues contained in this newsletter.

All members should be very concerned that the culture of the WIA Board is one of secrecy, intimidation and censorship.

Late last year it was brought to the attention of members that there was a culture of secrecy and intimidation inside the WIA Board.  The Board has continued to operate in this manner and have done nothing to address their deep seated problems.

In spite of their best efforts, Andrew Smith and Paul Simmonds are clearly in a minority and are unable to break through the appalling endemic toxic culture.  These two directors are doing their best.  They both talk with members.  They both want transparency.

Requests to the President to answer member concerns continue to be either ignored or answered with non-specific generalisations and platitudes.  The upcoming issues of AR Magazine are bound to contain further examples….

Why won’t the President simply publish a P&L Statement?

If the Board can’t publish the financials, then they are not fit to hold their positions on the Board and must go.  If they won’t publish the financials, then they are not fit to hold their positions and must go.

Over the course of the last 3 months, our articles and news items have been censored by various news outlets.

Most recently, a request to the VK6 News Broadcast team was rejected, because apparently repeater funding to VK6 from the National WIA may be at risk had they run our item.

There is really only one way to interpret this; intimidation and censorship of the Broadcast team.

And as many have experienced, intimidation can be applied in many different ways. It need not be overt.

A request to place a very simple paid advertisement in Amateur Radio magazine was rejected by the Board. Further censorship. And lost revenue!

We can only assume that the editor of Amateur Radio Magazine is unable to exercise editorial independence for similar reasons as those stated by the VK6 team. We have no doubt Peter Freeman’s own judgement would ensure fair and balanced access to the members’ national journal.

At the AGM, the President Phil Wait advised members that they could inspect Board Meeting Minutes in person at the National Office.

It appears the President has misled members.

One attempt to do this by a WIA member was met with reluctance by Bruce Deefholts and referral to the Company Secretary, Jim Linton. A further attempt resulted in confirmation that any requests to view the Board Minutes must be referred to the Company Secretary for approval.

What does the President and his fellow directors have to hide? Why won’t the office email these minutes to members like the ARRL and RSGB?

With your continuing support, this Board is now on notice. They continue to avoid any attempts to communicate openly and honestly. At best, their performance is sloppy, careless and incompetent. And now they are attempting to hide this from members with censorship and “Yes Minister” style bureaucracy to limit member’s access to records.

Free speech is a hallmark of our society. We have no doubt that the majority of the WIA Board does not like what we have to say and are embarrassed by members being made aware of it. Some members may not be interested. Neither of these are acceptable reasons for news submissions in the member’s national journal to be censored.

Amateur Radio is the journal of our institute.  It is not the personal mouthpiece of the President or the Board to do with as they see fit.

What is the Board of the WIA afraid of?  Why won’t they answer genuine concerns from members?  Why are they censoring what we have to say?

 

There are still many people who are unaware of the WIA Reform Group. 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

We’ll continue to support Paul Simmonds and Andrew Smith and challenge this Board to for better results for all Australian Radio Amateurs. 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