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E.A. & Branches, Opinion 2020 

'Stuff ' just keeps dissappearing on Facebook and Forums!
'Stuff ' just keeps dissappearing on Facebook and Forums!
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SPORTING ORGANISATION MEMBERS WON'T LODGE OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS

When sporting organisations fail to comply with the (current) corporations act and/or their organisations governing constitution, sportspeople are the least likely to formally report the infractions as they fear consequences from their sporting peers and the organisation itself. This is especially pertinent for the members of the peak bodies who are responsible for elite athletes, national and international competition, and Olympic selection. It’s not in an athlete’s best interest to report infractions by the organisation that holds the power over their sporting aspirations.

The EA experience has graphically illustrated the fracture that occurs between sporting members who have differing aspirations; the EA the elite athletes have been overwhelmingly quiet through the recent process except for the occasional vehement criticisms of the whistle blowers, stating that any disruption of EA could/would result in loss of international governing bodies membership and imperil Olympic participation.

 

The majority of concerns from the EA members have centred around disruption to their sport that voluntary administration/ receivership / would cause. The appalling governance issues have not been denied but rather side-lined over concern that the ‘down-time’ will damage their sport and opportunities for competition. This could all have been avoided if EA operated under an Act that was specifically tailored to sporting organisations and Sport Australia had monitored EA calling them to task’ in a timely manner.

ROAD- BLOCKS TO MEMBERS COMPLAINTS

Using their constitutional right to resort to calling a special general meeting and submitting motions hasn’t worked well for individual members of sporting organisations; aside from the massive personal cost regarding legal advice and representation, they fear consequences from their organisation and other members if they speak up e.g. I know an A level E.A. judge who won’t contribute to any of this reform and didn’t vote at the Voluntary Administrators Creditors meetings because he/she judges they can’t be involved in any politics re the sport. This is why non members, primarily ex members have led this movement regarding E.A. to this point.

Similarly, the motivating factors for being a board member of a not for profit  elite sporting organisations is also very different to board members of for profit companies.

Sporting organisation members will not speak up (whistle blow) until the situation is impossible and then only if pushed. Added to this are the aims and expectations of the different categories of sporting organisation members.

There are members who aspire to elite international competition, National, State or club level competition; those that compete for fun and have no performance expectations, members who are officials, non-competitive supporters and recreational sports people, past competitors, juniors and mixes of these.

Each category draws on different sporting services from their organisation but usually it’s a pyramid with the elite at the top. For many members, unless and until injustice and incompetence from their organisation affects them directly, they will remain quiet.  Beyond this the negative impact of speaking up comes into play.

The situation regarding Equestrian Australia and the State Branches has become so dire that the signatories to “Riders for Reform” include past and present Olympians, trainers, judges, elite and non-elite competitors and recreational riders. The State Branches have disregarded these signatories.

Equestrian Australia members can’t be the only sporting organisations members who fear retribution from their organisation if they speak up - personal cost regarding legal advice:

  • discrimination

  • charges such as 'bring the sport into disrepute', consequently having to face a tribunal

  • ostracization

  • bias from their peers and judges of their sporting performances,

  • bullying, exclusion,

  •  lack of team selection etc.

These are real in the sporting world, especially for the elite and ‘wanna bees’.  Right down to Equestrian Victoria excluding and cancelling membership of their critics (e.g. Berni Saunders) and using the threat of heavy handed tribunal action to shut up their critics using their highly subjective 'bringing the sport into disrepute' disciplinary clause (Which apparently doesn't appear to apply to Board actions!). When your life's work  / pleasure revolves around competition and  'fitting-in'. Whistle-blower protection means nothing in the scheme of things when your organisation warns you to 'back-down'!

The indiscriminate use of sanctioning members who ‘ bring the sport into disrepute’(i.e. criticizing the board), resulting in costly litigation for all parties is a real threat that has been used to silence criticism and punish members very effectively and bears investigating e.g. regarding Equestrian New South Wales.

 

DISINCENTIVES : LIQUIDATION - THE THREAT OF HAVING TO START AGAIN, RE-BUILDING, DOWN-TIME – V/S -

VOTE FOR AN UNSUITABLE DOCA AND PUT UP WITH MORE OF THE SAME

Members at the creditors meeting were given 3 options put to the vote at the second creditors meeting, vote for one :

  1. The Korda Mentha DOCA (minimal reform) 

  2. The State Branches' manifestly unsuitable DOCA

  3. Liquidation

A huge disincentive for the majority of Equestrian members to engage meaningfully and follow-through with a fully reformative conclusion to Voluntary Administration was the threat that their Peak National Body (E.A) could be liquidated if they couldn’t come to an agreement.

WHICH ORGANISATION IS MORE INTEGRAL TO EQUESTRIAN COMPETITIONS IN AUSTRALIA -

E.A. / STATE BRANCHES ?

I'm basing this question on the assumption that the vast majority of members of their State Branches / E.A. wish to compete / judge / coach / sponsor / volunteer  under the recognised Equestrian Peak Body control and conditions available in Australia: 

Roles and responsibilities E.A. and the State Branches - Attachment to the Memorandum of Understanding between E.A. and the State Branches

EQUESTRIAN AUSTRALIA?

Ask yourself, If E.A. the Peak Equestrian body in Australia was liquidated, what are the consequences for competitors: internationally aspiring competitors, insurance, government grants, F.E.I. and A.O.C and I.O. C affiliation, rules, sponsorship, judges, selectors ? Bear in mind that E.A. owns their intellectual property and liquidation would probably mean acrimonious relationships with the State Branches - the winner doesn't always 'take it all'.

THE STATE BRANCHES?

Now ask the same question regarding State Branches who are responsible for perhaps 4 state championship competition. These competitions and all other functions could be done from a central organisation (EA or a new organisations) partnering with State based clubs and volunteers. 

While the Tokyo Olympics were immanent, supporters and Olympic hopefuls felt they were between a rock and a hard place. The members did not welcome the very real threat of having to build a new organisation from the ground up and create all the international competition and government connections along with the legal requirements. So, via the Voluntary Administration process, Equestrian Australia has reached a point of no real reform (Constitution) and the prospect of more of the same, leaving the vast majority of members completely disenfranchised and disaffected.

It is abysmal that it has got to this point with Equestrian Australia; over a decade of serious issues with no intervention by Sport Australia until the point of almost no return and then this ‘Claytons’ reform. Is no government body watching this fiasco and doing something that could actually work for Individual members?

A clean sport?

The State Branches are complicit in this whole mess, their constitutions have been gradual eroding grass roots members ability for input at any level e.g. .  Vic under their Constitution: no proxies at AGM, 100 members required to petition a special general meeting etc. In practice, EA and the Branches ran shotgun over their members and have pulled out the lawyers when they felt threatened.

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DISINCENTIVES
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Roles_responsibilities
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MAKE AN OFFICIAL COMPLAINT TO THE RESPONSIBLE BODY:

I HAVE - ACTIONS TAKEN BY HORSES MOUTH:

As an ex member (40+ years membership) I don’t have the same disincentives as current E.A. members so I wrote to The Minister for Sport who ‘hand-balled’ my letter to Sport  Australia outlining the issues covered on this website. This proved to be a futile action though I do note that the chair of Sport Australia was replaced recently!

My first email to The Minister of Sport – Richard Colbeck 18/6/2020

 

The reply– from Sport Australia ( a non-answer, no action)

Excerpt from petition: Clause 40 "does not meet the requirements The Corporations Act 2001 and could be contested under 445D ‘When Court may void or validate deed ‘and ‘When Court may terminate deed of the act’. Such an action is undesirable and would not be in the interest of achieving the stated outcome"

Letter to Korda Mentha 1/9/2020 Suggesting Alternate to Clause 40, Also sent to all Equestrian Australia State Branches- Only Tasmania even acknowledged receipt, no other reply from any State Branch

Letter to Sport Australia, Korda Mentha and The AOC (John Coates) 


Reply’ from Sport Australia

Reply from Sport Integrity- Not Part of their Remit!

What About complaining to ASIC?

More re ASIC

 

 

THE GREAT HOPE- ‘SPORT INTEGRITY AUSTRALIA – A COMPLETE LET-DOWN

I wrote to Sport Integrity Australia outlining the issues covered on this website. This proved to be yet another futile action. Result – Their remit is currently limited to issues such as Bullying and drugs in sport - No action


The letter to Sport Integrity, Sport Australia, Korda Mentha and The Australian Newspaper

 
Sport Integrity reply 

 

 

CONCLUSIONS –

The Australian Government is prepared to fund a Peak Sporting Body that:

  • Has a 13+ year history of mismanagement

  • No Government Body is prepared to investigate thoroughly, call to task for specific failures, monitor effectively insist that significant reform is actioned or deliver consequences.

  • The Corporations Act and ASIC  have has failed sporting body members.

  • Declining results at the Olympics

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conclusions
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445D
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FIX IT !

AND / OR THE MEMBERS CAN FIX THIS

 

Sport Australia and ASIC should step up for Peak National Sporting Organisations - collaborate and create an Act and method of reporting, monitoring and sanctioning via a tribunal, that is tailored to companies limited by guarantee; that is accessible to sporting members,  workable and where penalties for mismanagement are available and pursued.

Sport Australia should actively audit their  governance principals for the organisations they oversee; on a rolling basis, and not wait until a sport is on its knees.


 

All Peak Sporting Organisations (that receive government funding via Sport Australia) are governed under the Corporations Act, as are Equestrian Australia and the State Branches. Many Peak Bodies have experienced turmoil recently, however, the core of governance of these sports has often been revised, rebadged yet remains fundamentally the same, in my opinion primarily because of the Corporations Act,ASIC, and Sport Australia' deficiencies.


 

The Minister for Sport  and Sport Australia holds the government purse strings regarding all Peak National Sporting Organisations, primarily those sporting organisations where their sport is an Olympic one. These sports receive millions in government grants. Check for yourself https://www.sportaus.gov.au/australian_sports_directory

Having said this I have absolutely no faith that any of these government bodies or ministers will act on the issues identified here on Horses Mouth. It's clear that the only way anything will be rectifies is if the  E.A. individual members stay the line and drive reform

 

WORTH READING

https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/366672/Gowthorp_2014_02Thesis.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/ANZSportsLawJl/2010/4.pdf

https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2009-11/apo-nid19766.pdf  

2009 - Time for a re-think !

A Study of Organizational Effectiveness for National Olympic Sporting Organizations

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