About this Survey
The WIA Reform Group decided to conduct a survey in April 2016 to better gauge the opinions of Australian amateurs. The survey was open all amateurs, not just WIA members. The WIA Reform Group has made observations about the results and recommendation where appropriate.
The WIA conducted its own survey in 2014: it appeared unclear to us what actions the Board had taken since, and what outcomes were being used by the Board to direct its decision and policy making. There has been very little, if any, followup communication from the Board. The only significant activity the Board has performed in the last two years has been the office restructure, and that has been of limited benefit to members. The restructure has cost the Institute a considerable sum of money and there are genuine concerns over the manner in which the project was managed.
The WIA Reform Group is hopeful that the new Executive Administrator will settle into his new role and address many of the office issues.
The survey was divided into two sections. The first section was designed to gauge feedback in relation to the membership services provided by the WIA. This includes services like the QSL Bureau, Bookshop, Callsign services, and examination services, Amateur Radio Magazine, Awards and Contests.
The second section was designed to obtain an insight into the broader services provided by the WIA in the areas of government representation and overall management by the Board.
- Appendix 1 provides a sample of respondent’s comments to questions asking them for their feedback about the Office and WIA as a whole.
- Appendix 2 provides a summary of results from non-WIA members.
- Appendix 3 describes the method used to conduct the survey.
The majority of respondents (67%) are WIA members, and it is promising that many non-members have contributed. Only by listening to non-members can we gain a possible insight into why they do not join our national institute.
Unsurprisingly, 74% of respondents come from the three large eastern states. It was noted that the 7% of results came from the smallest mainland call area; that being Northern Territory.
WIA Office & Member Services
Overall, 45% were either very or somewhat satisfied with membership services, as well as the National Office. Just over 30% had a neutral view, indicating that many have had little or no contact with the office or using membership services.
Given about 33% of respondents were non-members this is probably not surprising. About 23% were dissatisfied with services. As with any service organisation it will be impossible to please all the people all the time, but a more detailed analysis of the possible sources of dissatisfaction is presented in later in this report. Anecdotal evidence from comments and feedback support the above results.
Many respondents indicated they were very happy with the Examinations Officer and new Executive Administrator but that back-end processes meant considerable delays with some services. About 80% of non-WIA members have used Licencing and Examination services.
It was also noted that a concerning number of respondents (15%) received no response to their requests when contacting the office. It is noted the WIA does not have a management system for tracking and managing member and non-member enquiries, so whilst it is disappointing, it is not surprising that 15% of all enquiries appear to “drop into a black hole”.
The general results indicate that about half the respondents who contact the office are happy with the office staff, but back-end processes need to be addressed.
Refer to Appendix 1 for a sample of comments from Survey respondents.
The WIA Reform Group has a number of strategic recommendations that could improve the services delivered by the WIA National Office and benefit the WIA as a whole.
- Implement a service request tool/ticketing system to ensure a proper management system is in place to handle queries. This would also provide the Board with key measurements by which to direct resources and manage workloads. No more lost enquiries in the black hole. It would be very useful for the Board to properly understand just how many queries come to the office each year (estimate is 15,000 emails per year. How many phone calls?). The Office must be handling thousands of enquiries each year, but a lack of a useful management system leaves the management team with little or no idea of volumes, demand, and actual services requested and delivered. This is not the first time this recommendation has been made.
- Undertake a professional review of business processes to identify improvements and opportunities to move services on-line; this also has the opportunity to reduce staffing and administration costs.
- Implement collaboration tools to enable greater efficiency for office staff, board members and committees/working groups
WIA Digital Services and Internet Presence
At present, the WIA only has an internet site (http://www.wia.org.au).
Given we are very much in the digital age, the WIA must improve its internet site and present itself as relevant to the future generation of amateurs. Some amateurs avoid the newer technologies and that is their prerogative. However, the WIA Board is resisting a move to be a more dynamic and relevant organisation.
If we want our WIA to appeal to a broader range of the population and be more efficient and effective in communicating to the membership and public at large, serious consideration must be given to a more robust and modern internet presence. These observations are reflected with the internal management systems as well. A starting point for improvements would include:
- Using industry standard Content Management Systems (the system that is used to build and maintain the WIA’s internet site)
- Making the website mobile and tablet friendly
- More relevant and up-to-date content
- Facebook and/or Twitter (both these can be implemented in a manner which reduces administration)
- Introduction of collaboration tools across the Board, committees and office functions.
The WIA Reform Group recognises that all of this takes work and skill. The Board must set a more dynamic policy and consider seeking volunteers with the skill and interest to help with these important tasks. But attracting and retaining willing volunteers will require a change in mind-set by our Board.
We cannot leave this important service delivery and marketing channel to wallow due to an out-dated mindset.
Digital Amateur Radio magazine
The use of digital delivery of the Amateur Radio magazine remains a polarising topic. 60% of respondents were in favour of a reduced membership fee to forego the paper copy of the magazine. It is noted that AR Magazine is delivered in PDF format. The ideal outcome would be a truly digital magazine (like CQ) where hotlinks and multi-media content can be embedded. This, of course, would require additional work by contributors and the editorial team. The results from the survey did not swing strongly either way. This is clearly an issue that requires further investigation.
The WIA Reform Group appreciates that moving to a “digital magazine only” membership class presents financial risks for the WIA. A solid argument will need to be put to members if this option is to be considered. Members may need to be prepared to make a concession in order for the WIA to free up money for promotion, education and representation for the long term security of our hobby.
WIA Representation and Management
An overall assessment of the results in this section of the survey clearly indicates the WIA Board is not meeting the expectations set by its own charter, nor are they engaging with the clubs or members as expected. At the very least, communication and expectations are inadequate, with very little visible progress for most Australian amateurs. Overall, the WIA Board of management do not enjoy a positive reputation with the majority of respondents.
Overall satisfaction with the WIA
41% are somewhat or very dissatisfied and 27% being neutral. Only 32% are very or somewhat satisfied.
Would you recommend WIA to a friend?
The Board should be very concerned with these results. Only 43% would recommend membership to a fellow radio amateur.
How well is the Board working to visibly improve and protect Amateur Radio privileges with the government.
The Constitution states a key object of the WIA is “to protect and enhance the privileges of Radio Amateurs”
The Board is clearly failing with over half the respondents (55%) believe the board is not fulfilling this important charter.
The WIA Reform Group is finalising an analysis of the recent Submission to the ACMA by the WIA Board. We will make this document available shortly.
How well does the WIA Board listen to the needs and concerns you have as an Australian radio amateur?
A clear majority (62%) believe the Board is doing an inadequate job in listening to Australian Radio Amateurs and WIA members. Only 21% believe this Board does somewhat well and a minority (16%) believe the Board is doing either somewhat or extremely well. This result was echoed by individual respondent comments as well. Refer Appendix 1 for a sample of comments.
How well has the WIA supported your local club and helped promote Amateur Radio in your local area?
Following on from the previous question, it’s clear this Board is not spending enough time talking to, or listening to members or clubs. Almost 60% of respondents believe the WIA Board provides inadequate support to the clubs. Anecdotal evidence suggests most amateurs would like to see more engagement from the Board at local club level. Appendix 1 provides a sample of respondents’ comments that also indicate this is a problem.
How satisfied are you with the WIA’s approach to addressing interference from intruders and interference to our bands?
Some amateurs are unplugging their HF antennas, or at least are suffering from local noise created by non-compliant electronic devices. Almost half the respondents (45%) have a negative view of the WIA’s approach to addressing interference. A further 40% were neutral on the subject, with only 15% having a positive opinion of the WIA’s effectiveness.
How satisfied are you with the communication and transparency of decisions made by the WIA Board?
In spite of recent changes by the Board, the majority (62%) of respondents are somewhat or very dissatisfied with communication and transparency of decision making. 23% are neutral and only 15% have a positive opinion. This majority response indicates that there are opportunities for this Board to improve transparency and communication.
Are you concerned with the professional conduct and recent conflict of interest issues with some Board members?
82% of respondents are concerned about the conflicts of interest with certain Board members. The Board has not addressed these concerns adequately and the professional judgement of certain board members must continue to be questioned.
Appendix 1 – Sample comments from respondents
Below is a representative sample of comments received for each of the following questions.
Please state at least one thing you believe the WIA Office does well
Petra is a very efficient worker.
Licensing and examination management
Bookshop is good
New office manager seems to be get thing moving in the right direction
The WIA office is available during most business hours for enquiries. The office manager was polite and knowledgeable, and got my enquiry completed in good time.
They do answer your questions quite good
Processes Examination Paperwork – no issues.
Please state at least one thing the office could do better
Could reply to emails in a more timely manner.
Communicate with it’s members, supply transparency as to members in regards to it’s day to day operations.
Better social media presence
Exams processing seems overly expensive compared with other countries.
No idea … what do I get for my money … not much value.
Oversight of license testing. Something is wrong.
Faster licence processing.
Respond to emails.
The entire exam service should be on line. The whole process should happen on line from start to finish.
Please state at least one thing you would like to see the WIA do better.
Get professional in the fulfilment of its role.
Listen to the members
Concentrate on listening to other board members concerns opinions objections and not to denigrate them
Not concerned as they have done the best they can as concerned club members.
Weekly updates on Facebook or email from the board and directors on thru area of governance
Advocate for additional bands and power increases to equal limits in other countries. Cut costs of exam processing.
Be relevant to real amateur radio hams.
Seems disorganised and unco-ordinated
Act as one group with all board on the same page
Provide support for amateur radio education. The current WIA education committee focuses on the examination process.
Promote education of Amateur Radio in schools. They are awash with money: spend it more on youth programs to introduce Amateur Radio.
Communication with Members Interacting with affiliated clubs
communication more open discussion in decision making process
Better action in getting stuff through the acma. I left the wia because i did not believe they did enough to get the 1KW license back on the table
Appendix 2 – Non-member Responses
Below is a summary of the results from non-WIA members.
How satisfied are you with the service used?
How would you rate the WIA web site
8% never visited
Given the first contact for many people with the WIA is for Foundation Licence enquiries, exam services and callsign administration, the WIA needs to make a better first impression. The same goes with the web presence. The first contact people have with any organisation has a major impact on purchasing decisions.
82% believe the WIA would benefit from an official social media presence.
78% would respond well to a “digital magazine only” membership
75% are unlikely to recommend WIA membership with 20% being neutral.
Not surprisingly, the overall sentiment from non-members was the WIA needs to improve its communications, decision making transparency and engagement with clubs. It is a reasonable assumption that if the Board addressed these concerns we would have more members.
Appendix 3 – Survey Method
There may be some who wish to question the results of this survey. Therefore, in the interests of transparency, we offer the following details regarding the survey method. The WIA Reform Group used the Survey Monkey online survey tool. The survey was made available online to all Australian amateurs with internet access. We did not target specific interest groups. Links to the survey were provided on our website, distributed to clubs and interested members via email and made available on various Facebook pages. The only requirement was that respondents needed to have internet access.
Rather than focus on the best methods for conducting the survey, we utilised statistical theory and on-line calculators to determine our survey size.
The above link should answer any questions you may have regarding the statistical outcome that resulted from this survey. We used the following metrics.
Population size: 10,000 (probably too large given many amateurs are not active, and many don’t really care about the hobby enough to take an interest).
Margin of error: 6%
Confidence Level: 90%
Recommended sample size: 184 (actual number of respondents was 206)
The WIA Reform Group accepts that for a more critical application (e.g. Academic, commercial or scientific purposes), we would have sought the next significant sample size; probably about 350 responses. This would have increased the confidence level to 95% and reduced the margin of error to 5%.
However, we believe that tightening the criteria would have made little material change to the overall results. Given the serious concerns we have raised in recent months about the WIA, we were looking for overall trends and respondents “sense of quality”, hence our questions were not based on absolute numerical values. (eg. We did not ask “How long did you wait for a response when contacting the National Office?”)
The results presented in this paper reflect the opinions of the broad community within the specifications provided above.
Did you complete the survey?