The following was published today on Crikey.com.au
Problems within the LGBTI Health Alliance have come to a head, with two board members resigning on Friday. The not-for-profit peak body has been plagued by allegations of infighting at senior levels, and last week we reported that board members had spoken out against comments made by executive director Rebecca Reynolds in The Australian about the Safe Schools Program. Victorian director Luke Gahan resigned on Friday, and in a letter seen by Crikey, he took aim at the board chair and at the comments:
“At present, the Alliance is operating on a budget that has never been passed and which was presented to the board three months after the financial year began; we have lost our Federal funding due to an application that was poorly written … we have lost the confidence of our constituency and our members …
“Likewise, I have been asking for the budget to be discussed since the Canberra meeting — a meeting that was later declared invalid as the chair refused to allow a board member to participate (I note the chair’s apology at the meeting following). However, nine months into the new financial year we have yet to discuss or vote on the proposed budget. The Safe Schools debacle is just another example of what has gone wrong with the Alliance and the Alliance board, and this reflects badly on every one of us. It was neither consistent with our beliefs (aged care?) nor was it consistent with our non-existent policies. We failed our members and we failed the LGBTI communities.
“I no longer believe that our members have an alliance that is focused on their needs … Consequently, I have no other way forward but to hereby resign as the Victorian Director of the National LGBTI Health Alliance.”
Fellow director Russell Flynn also resigned, saying he had been excluded from a board meeting:
“It is my view that this board and organisation are in peril from … opaque governance and management, poor engagement with constituencies, exclusion of board members from important deliberations, policy development and decisions. I am more than acutely aware of having been actively excluded from a board meeting personally, without notice nor reasonable explanation, by the Chair, I also view recent external messaging and policy on the run without inclusion of the board as amateurish and subsequent correspondence from the chair as ‘retrospective internal damage control’. Also, did the Chair truly threaten board members publicly with legal action as reported? That speaks poorly.”
“I will always be an ally if the mission of the Alliance, I only hope it will survive the current regime.”
Chair of the LGBTI Health Alliance Susan Ditter confirmed to Crikey that the resignations had taken place. She said processes and the organisation’s policy manual were being reviewed and said the 2017 budget was squared away:
“Our budgets are on track. The Board and Treasurer have worked line by line through the questions surrounding the 2016 budget. All spending has been accounted for and is in line with individual projects in support of LGBTI people. The draft budget for 2017 is due for Board approval next month and scheduled for endorsement by June 2017.”
Read Ditter’s full statement below:
The National LGBTI Health Alliance
Alliance Board Resignations
Internal documents have been distributed to the media that, out of context, can indicate a disruption and inefficiency in our work; as your board.
We would like to reassure all stakeholders that we are fully committed to serving all LGBTI Australians.
As with any organisation there are always improvements that can be made. The Board has addressed the majority of the issues brought up in these documents. For example:
Our budgets are on track. The Board and Treasurer have worked line by line through the questions surrounding the 2016 budget. All spending has been accounted for and is in line with individual projects in support of LGBTI people. The draft budget for 2017 is due for Board approval next month and scheduled for endorsement by June 2017.
Our policy manuals are being reviewed. We are currently undertaking the regular constitution and policy review (which occurs every 3 years) with any constitutional changes to be provided to members prior to the next AGM.
We are improving our communication process. As a national organisation we work to continually find better ways to communicate with our members, stakeholders and the broader community. We are proud of the achievements of the LGBTI Health Alliance and want to be able to spread the message far and wide!
We are continually growing, with many of our initiatives and projects gaining great momentum. But there is so much more to do.
The Alliance is passionate about seeing change be brought into our world. A change from stigma, discrimination and violence in all of its forms. A change for our families, for our young people, for infants, for older people, for our communities, for our society.
The Alliance is committed to working towards making this change happen at all levels of our community. The Alliance works to harmonise State and Territory difference through changing perceptions; working with Government to change rules and legislation and to open the conversations with all members of our communities.
15th March 2016