National Board & National Council

NEW BOARD AND COUNCIL announced! AGM was July 2023. At last ELECTED members are in place…

NEWS FOR MEMBERS

The elected members of BHA for 2023 are listed below. Please scroll down to see the list, and hear their progress and plans. If you need some explanation of what has happened to get to this point, you can read the ‘history’ section, at the end.

Here is our current National Board, roughly in alphabetical order:

THE 2023 NATIONAL BOARD

Here are the members on your new National Board, duly elected at National AGM in July 2023. These elections signify a new direction without the bullying and improper behaviours of the previous years. We can all decide properly how to best move BHA forward with energy and cooperation. Feel free to make your suggestions for our future… we are listening, and wish to support all Australians on their hearing loss journey. This is a significant disability and one affecting inclreasing numbers. Please join us iin this journey.

Mr Peter KerleyPresident of BHA National, & National Chair
Mr Peter AlcockNational VP Administration
Dr Barnard ClarksonNational VP Marketing & Development
Mr John HarveyNational VP Policy & Planning & WA National Councillor
Mr William LeaneNational VP Promotions
Mr Tony WhelanBrisbane Office manager & Brisbane National Councillor
Mr Larry DavenportNational VP Finance
VacantSydney National Councillor
As you can see, there is a single vacancy. Any member of Sydney BHA branch can stand. Since the expulsion of three BHA members who were tried to act as the National Board despite being unelected – now all Sydney Branch members – we invite non-expelled Sydney members to come forward, nominate themselves or another member as National Councillor and help BHA in its reform process. If you are a member of Sydney Branch and wish to contribute please send a message.

For those interested, a quick bit of History, without naming any people.

Better Hearing Australia is a federation of branches around Australia. Since the first branch was established after Word War I to help returned servicemen and women with ‘industrial deafness issues’, we have been a self-help group. BHA has consulted, advocated for members and run lipreading classes and many other things besides.

Never-ending changes over time, including technological support, government approaches and an ageing population have meant that our roles have changed. More recently a realisation that serious changes were becoming needed and features like Bluetooth in phones, digital hearing aids, apps that can auto-caption meetings in real time, changing attitudes to deafness, and even lipreading activities via the internet; these are a few of the many changes that have contributed to a decline in memberships, and individual branches have responded to these challenges. Some have closed (we used to have more. A previous National Board contributor, Jeannine Asciak, reported that around thirty years ago (1994 to be exact) there were 17 branches with 2,973 members registered with the BHA National body) and others have begun their own rejuvenation process.

Attracting new members is a big question, and some branches have solutions for issue like this. Some argue that the decline is proof of our irrelevance. Others argue it is evidence of lack of adaptation to the huge changes around us. Are there not MORE older adults now with hearing loss? And isnt the medical evidence showing that we need to keep our social, physical and mental activities up or our brains close down and we succumb to events like depression, more falls and even various dementias? What better system than groups with a long-term focus (compared with hearing aid manufacturers who care for short term payments) and a supportive atmosphere?

One big question is whether a National body confers advantages for the individual branches, and others see a role for sharing leadership ideas, or a place where we can resources we have developed and so on. For example WA Branch have a free Lipreading Webapp for Australian speakers, first uploaded nearly a decade ago. and currently going thru a rejuvenation too. Version Two should be available in 2024; other active branches have other useful activities for members and often freely available to all of those on their ‘Hearing Loss Journey’.

So where should BHA head? Can we expect some leaders to suggest new directions and help us reform? Do you have any suggestions? Please jump to the new Board members list, and look for the link to let us know your suggestions. We look forward to them.

There was an attempt back in 2021 when a Sydney member, Mr Peter Kerley, proposed that BHA should attempt to restructure and offered himself as the only nomination to the election that year. No-one else was interested. He began the long process of restarting, reforming and rejuvenating BHA. He talked to lots of people and gradually it looked like things were getting better for BHA at a national level. An interim committee was formed, began calling itself the ISC – Interim Sub Committee, and despite multiple meeting in 2020 and 2021 things started to falter. The ISC began inviting fewer and fewer people to its meetings, and they started to undermine anyone who did not agree with their proposals.Their behaviours caused some disruptions, and led to their dismissal. The details are less important but the truth is not. There have been poor behaviours, improper behaviours and we now have lawyers attempting to solve these issues so that BHA can rebuild its branches and even itself as a national body.

The Interim Sub Committee (ISC), which had been running since 2021, has been terminated by a recent Special General Meeting (SGM).

Since 27 April ‘23, a properly constituted and duly assembled National Council is now operational.  In accordance with the constitution, the National Council — comprising the National Board and Councillors appointed by each Branch — held office until the elections at the latest AGM in July.  Members may be aware the AGM is long overdue despite repeated calls to the ISC to establish one. Election results are indicated below.

The upheld complaints included •bullying other members; •attempting to take over the BHA Bank account with improper Minutes, spotted by an unnamed bank manager who apparently reported afterwards, “this is the worst case I have seen in my career”; and •entering illegal data on our ACNC record.

The ACNC is our National Charity and Non-Profits Commission, which attempts to manage charitable groups like BHA, and we cannot afford to act illegally. These behaviours are bringing BHA into disrepute and undermining our reputation.

“All this uncharitable palaver has eroded time we should spend looking to our real future…”

End of the History lesson, some of it recent. If you have any comments or suggestions, please send a message to us.

AND if you have any comments, suggestions, brickbats or bouquets, please start the conversation…

Clearly that AGM successfully elected a National Council (and therefore a National Board), so we now considering our options so BHA can make progress as a support structure for Australians on their Hearing Loss Journey. We want to involve all branches in our rejuvenation, and after all the challenges and now three terminations, we look forward to proper arrangements with all our branches in the future.