I spent most of last week touring VK3 and together with Paul VK5PAS we gave multiple presentations to radio amateurs on the current issues at the WIA. Unlike the WIA presentation given in Sydney by one of my co-directors I hope that we were seen to concentrate on the issues and not make personal attacks. Videos of our presentations are available on the net.
What were the issues that we raised? First of all and the biggest is fiscal incompetence and maladministration. We still do not know the level of losses that have been made although the Board expects to have further information before its meeting next Tuesday. It is clear however that there is a very significant loss and that lots of money appears to have been wasted on a firm of bookkeepers and and accountant in the past. This has ensured that the current bookkeepers have had to unravel incorrect data entry that had occurred. I can confirm that the accounts presented to the AGM at Norfolk island were not correct and should not have been approved. Concern was expressed during our question and answer sessions that a lot of this financial inaccuracy took place whilst the office was under the stewardship, in a paid capacity, of one of the directors. Indeed this director performed the role of acting treasurer despite publicly confessing that he had little experience, knowledge of, or wish to be involved in financial matters.
Secondly concern was raised about the structure and functions of a number of the WIA committees. It was noted that directors were overrepresented on committees and that this prevented them from having the helicopter view required by Boards of Directors. This term has been stated by the president but was in fact taken from our board corporate training courses and no changes have yet occurred.. This over involvement in committee work has hampered the Board and it is only to be hoped that the volunteer charter and a different approach to recruiting volunteers through an open expression of interest process rather than the current method of tapping on the shoulder of a mate. I was astonished at a show of hands at each presentation how few members had been asked to volunteer.
Thirdly, the issue of the Registered Training Organisation was raised. It is clear that Trainsafe is no longer an RTO with Education Quality Standards Authority although on both its own webpages and at the WIA website there are still statements that it is Registered. It is possible that it is registered with another like body, but that is not made clear. The concern here is that if the RTO or equivalent is non compliant then not only is legality of the deed with the ACMA, but the whole structure of assessment and issuing of certificates of proficiency, together with recommendation for issuing of licences must be in doubt.
The issuing of special event call signs, the standards of reports provided to the regulator and many other issues were raised with us and may be seen and heard on the recordings that were made.
The most significant question raised with us was what was the “aim of our talks”. The answer is clear, as supporters of the Institute, it is to ensure the the WIA undertake an audit and review of not just its finances but its overall structure, governance, policies procedures and practices. Whether or not this needs to be for three full years is debatable but as it is now clear that the accounts for both 2015 and 2016 are in disarray the auditors need to draw a line in the sand and so to do so most likely 2014 will need to be checked through as well. Despite the reluctance of the President and members of the Board to be scrutinised it is quite clear that if Paul and I had not raised these issues in the first place it is obvious that the desperate situation for the WIA would have continued to have been concealed. We have little pleasure in being shown to be correct.
One further matter is directly related to the functioning of the Board and advice given to board members on legal issues by non legal practitioners both from within and without the board and including, it appears, Professor Google. The Board was advised that it was lawful for motions on notice to be amended. Despite a contrary view being put, this was ignored. Legal opinion has confirmed that motions on notice cannot be amended. The result is that the resolution to call a general meeting to get approval for costs to be expended on an audit and review is not valid. Similarly a motion on notice amended at a previous meeting is also not valid. We will have to await Tuesday’s meeting to see what can be done to rectify the situation. It is my view that the Board will most likely vote 5 to 2 to make the motion null and void and therefore there will be no meeting and no audit and review. If you are a member and this is the outcome then I suggest that you let your feelings be known to the president and perhaps consider that a general meeting of members should be held nevertheless by becoming one of the 100 signatories required under the constitution to demand a meeting as soon as is possible.
On a final note. I apologise for the Board having developed a culture of ownership of the WIA rather than understanding that its true purpose is actually to serve the WIA that after all, is in fact an institute owned by its members.
This is WIA Director Andrew VK6AS