MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING HELD ON OCTOBER 13TH 2022 AT 12.30PM IN THE ACORN ROOM, ABOVE THE GUILD SHOPS,
UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
PRESENT: D Judge (Vice-President and Chair), and members including E Brink, S Dobbs, S Maloney, M Rizzi, B Montgomery, C Bourgault du Coudray, V Hayes, J Van Gent, D Spagnoli, L O’Sullivan, K Essary, N O’Sullivan, F McGaughey and A Vrielink.
APOLOGIES: A Gaynor, K Tonkin, R Bucks, F Pixley, T Mazzarol, M Giudici, C Oldham, B Morgan, L Slack-Smith, W Mulders, N Kirkham, R Carroll, Z Aman, L Fernandes, S Maras, V Sreeram, D Webb, M Linden, J Alderson, L Dales, S Tarrant, R da Silva Rosa and D Ireland.
PROXY VOTES REGISTERED BY:
A Gaynor, L Fernandes, J Alderson, L Dales, S Tarrant, N Kirkham, R da Silva Rosa and D Ireland.
ATTENDING: J Manvell (administrator)
The Vice-President took the Chair and formally opened the meeting by acknowledging that the meeting takes place on the traditional lands of the Whadjuk Noongar people, recognising and respecting their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.
Members were welcomed to the 2022 AGM of the UWA Academic Staff Association and thanked for making the time to come along. Apologies and proxy votes were noted, and the meeting declared quorate with the use of the proxies.
E Brink PROPOSED that the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 14th October 2021 are accepted. Seconded by V Hayes.
- MATTERS ARISING FROM THE MINUTES:
- APPOINTMENT OF AUDITOR:
B Montgomery PROPOSED that Caffarelli & Associates, Chartered Accountants, be appointed as Auditors for 2022-23. Seconded by M Rizzi.
- APPOINTMENT OF RETURNING OFFICER:
C Bourgault du Coudray PROPOSED that the WA Industrial Registrar be requested to arrange for the WA Electoral Commission to conduct the elections for 2023-24. Seconded by B Montgomery.
- TREASURER’S REPORT by the Treasurer, Professor Shane Maloney
For the year ending 30 June 2022, the Association finished with a deficit of $19,208 compared with a deficit of $8,511 in the previous accounting period. $20,000 was withdrawn from the term deposit held with UniBank to cover this deficit.
$243,000 remains invested in the term deposit and interest rates are slowly rising. At today’s date, there is approximately $23,000 in the UniBank cheque account (accumulated membership fees) and $14,000 in the Westpac cheque account for working funds.
Although membership income, which is the major source of income, increased slightly, the interest paid on investments remained low and there was no further Government assistance (as in 2020 and 2021).
Costs were incurred for the biennial Philippa Maddern Award held in August and the Association contributed to support the action at the Fair Work Commission, initiated by a member of Social Sciences. Two years of honorarium payments to Committee members were also paid for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 financial years.
However, expenses overall remain relatively static, and it is likely that the Association will continue to run a deficit in the future.
We encourage everyone here to talk about joining the Association with their colleagues so that we can remain a robust organisation representing academics at UWA. Although membership numbers have fallen (currently 130, down from 142 at the start of the year) so too has the total number of academic staff.
A Vrielink PROPOSED that the Secretary’s Report be accepted. Seconded by S Dobbs.
- PRESIDENT’S REPORT in collaboration with, and presented by the Vice-President, Dr Debra Judge
Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge that our meeting takes place on the traditional lands of the Whadjuk Noongar people. On behalf of the UWA Academic Staff Association, I wish to recognise and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.
I welcome our members, both current and honorary, to the 2022 AGM of the UWA Academic Staff Association and thank you all for making the time to come along.
I’ll keep the address short and to the point and once I have finished, we can open the meeting to a broader discussion of the current situation at UWA and, perhaps more specifically, what members believe are the main issues for academic staff that UWA ASA should be focusing on in the coming year.
I always read over some of the old AGM addresses in preparation for writing and I notice that the past four or five years have all been really rough going for academics in this University. In that period, the only relatively bright spot seems to have been the resignation of the immediate past VC, (barring the interim VC) and the more recent exit of the previous SDVC Reflecting on the past year for UWAASA, I think it is fair to say that we have had a difficult and frustrating time characterised more than anything by a sense of powerlessness and shock in the face of a brutal and bruising change agenda administered primarily by individuals who have, or had, little loyalty or ongoing relationship to the institution. Followed by, in my opinion, a poorly conceived and hastily implemented restructure of the college services which has been very disruptive for academics. Add to that, the impact of the borders finally opening and covid spreading in the community from the start of first semester, an additional and hastily conceived special consideration policy, and a massively expanded supp policy, and I would say that people are just exhausted and worn out. Nevertheless, as a committee we have just pushed on doing what we do, which is represent in good faith the views, interests, and concerns of the Academic staff here at UWA.
I will try to give you some of the highlights of the past year. There were a couple of things I mentioned in my address last year, that actually occurred in this financial year. Hosting a very successful Philippa Maddern Awards night and honouring Colin McLeod and Jamie O’Shea. In addition, we called a special meeting of Academic Board in August to discuss the Board’s role in the Structural Reform Program and try to inform Senate of some of the key issues. A lot of work on this matter was done by members of the UWA ASA committee, thanks in in particular go to Marco, Debra and Shane, who continue to provide great service on the Academic Board, representing the views of academic across the Uni and making sure that academics continue to have a say in academic decisions. Our committee also lodged a freedom of information request to try and dig deeply into the actual process by which the Structural Reform Proposals were being developed and the data on which they had, ostensibly, been based. UWA ASA also made the decision to provide financial support of $5000 to the legal action at Fair Work put forward by Martin Forsey and Farida Fozdar. Ultimately, it was unsuccessful as I imagine you all know, but some fights are worth fighting even if you don’t win. We are also well represented on the ACC and have taken some issues to that forum (including parental policy clarifications and issues of workload creep as a function of the restructuring of services).
We welcomed members of the Guild Education Council, April Htun, Nicole McEwan and William Norrish, to our September 2021 Committee meeting. While it was an interesting discussion, establishing and maintaining relationships between the Guild and UWAASA is an issue, as positions are elected for one year. I was very pleased to note a rather ‘gauntlet throwing down’ email from the Guild the other day which attempted (among other things) to put the Senate and the Exec on notice.
At last year’s meeting we discussed some strategies for increasing membership; in particular, there was a suggestion that people could host morning teas in their schools funded by UWA ASA. Apart from Chantal in the Humanities, we had very little uptake of this which is unfortunate as membership continues to be a major issue for the organisation, and without members we can’t continue to do the job of representing the views of academics at UWA. Having few members also impact our legitimacy as a representative body, so I would implore you all to see whether you can encourage one or two of your colleagues to become members of UWA ASA.
So, responding to and recovering from the structural reform program seems to have been mostly what we did as an organisation. Many of us spent time in meetings where our colleagues were being told their positions were no longer required. We said goodbye to a great number of colleagues, most of whom were members of UWAASA. Our great friend, colleague and Treasurer, Allan McKinley was one of those who chose (in the loosest possible sense of that term) to take a redundancy. Allan was a member of UWA ASA for 28 years, for many of which he served on the Committee — including 17 (yes, you heard that correctly) as Treasurer. On behalf of the organisation, I want to express my sincerest gratitude for Allan’s long and much valued service. Luckily, he still comes to meetings when he can.
Shane Maloney has taken over the role of Treasurer and I want to express my thanks and welcome Shane to the role. We have had some changes in the committee too. Stella Tarrant left the committee at the end of June, thanks so much Stella for your commitment and contribution over several years. Zach Aman from Engineering joined the committee in July. Welcome Zach. There remains a casual vacancy on the Committee and we would be very pleased to hear from anyone who would like to be co-opted into that position for the rest of the year. Please get in touch.
The usual round of thanks is in order. First to Jo Manvell for looking after the day to day running of the Association. We would be lost without her powers of organisation and management not to mention her monthly provision of excellent sandwiches at each committee meeting (again, if anyone wants to be co-opted onto the committee, we can promise you a monthly treat of highly desirable sandwiches). It’s probably timely, on that note, to thank Jo more generally for looking after the Association. So, thanks Jo.
Thanks also to all the committee members for their work this year. In particular the office bearers: Debra Judge, our Vice President, Allan McKinley our long-standing Treasurer and Shane his replacement, and Marco Rizzi our Secretary.
It’s been a challenging year at UWA, but one thing that always gives us comfort when things are tough is that we are surrounded by colleague who are truly committed to this University and show up again and again to give their best for the students and for the research mission of the university. Not because of, but despite, the sometimes appallingly poor management of this University. The place shudders on because of the commitment and hard work of academic (and professional staff). One thing that we may want to watch carefully is the process for installing Heads of School – a process that has wandered about as far from traditional customs of inclusiveness and consensus as it is possible to wander.
So, on that note, I want to thank you all for making the time to come along and open the discussion. No particular topic, except perhaps hope for the future (triumphing over experience…)
C Bourgault du Coudray PROPOSED that the President’s Report be accepted. Seconded by V Hayes.
- OPEN DISCUSSION
- The UWAASA morning/afternoon teas within Schools were severely curtailed by both the pandemic and increasing workloads. It is hoped to organise them again next year as they are a very good way to connect with colleagues and to introduce UWAASA to non-members.
- The appointment of Heads of School is currently occurring and the lack of transparency and different processes between schools was highlighted. In Molecular Sciences, concerns were raised with the Acting SDVC and an HR representative as the names of candidates were not known and initially, there was no one representing the school on the selection panel. This was changed but knowledge of the candidates was restricted to the selection panel, whereas in Law and Medicine, feedback was given by academics in the school prior to the final decision.
The appointment of a new professor is collegial but appointment of a head of school is not. Since the dismantling of the professorial structure in 2016, the Head of School position seems to have become increasingly part of the Executive team, rather than the previous academic leadership role. Managing a school budget involves making personnel decisions, as budgets have been cut but outcomes remain the same.
- UWAASA Committee to invite Professor Tim Colmer, SDVC, to a Committee meeting.
- A question on notice to Academic Board, asking for clarity about the process.
- Centralisation of school operations in Design has resulted in a move off-site, with no visible presence of administrative staff. Despite overwhelmingly negative feedback, the situation is to remain.
The restructure of the college services overall has led to “workload creep” with academics taking on yet more administrative work. These are false economies as academics cost more, take longer to do an administrative task that they are not trained to do and consequently have less time to do their own work.
- Legislative reform may be the only answer as the current governance model is not serving the academic community. The restraints of budget, exacerbated during the pandemic, are not denied but there is no transparency in the decision-making process by Senate and Executive and no accountability. The State Government is a stakeholder so lobbying your MP can raise awareness of the corporatisation of the university.
1.45pm: The Vice- President and Chair thanked members for their attendance and closed the meeting.