Board Statement April 2016

Tena koutou katoa

As a Governance Board we are mindful that the SGM is less than two weeks away and that we are invited to a ‘watershed moment’ as decisions will be made on this day regarding the future board membership.  We are aware that travelling to Wellington may be prohibitive to many members, and thus there may be only a few able to engage in whatever korero occurs at this meeting prior to voting occurring.  This means many of you will vote without being party to the korero at the meeting.  In the interests of ensuring all members have access to the same information, whether they attend the SGM or not, we have asked our CE to prepare documents that explain and highlight our current financial situation and demonstrate the fiscal improvements that have been able to be made by National office under this Board’s strategic plan and guidance since December 2015.  Nga mihi also to Jane, Neil, Simon and Stewart, who were also instrumental in the establishing of the plan and guidance which has been essential in the improvement in our fiscal situation over recent months.  Please read the attached financial statements for further clarification on this.

There have been a number of questions sent to the board over recent months, wondering about the safety, competence and ethics of the remaining 5 board members and questioning the decisions made by the board in respect of the resignations of 2 elected and 2 voted members of the board.  As a board we would like to affirm the following:

  • As a board we acted according to our constitution and according to the advice of our legal advisors in actions in respect of the resignation of three board members in January 2016.
  • That the strategic plan and direction we have sought to maintain since that time were informed and supported by the full board membership of 8 at the time of our December 2015 meeting.
  • We have sought in all our actions to be guided by ethical and reflective practice and to be honourable in our kaitiaki role within ANZASW.
  • That as current board members we are unable to speak in specifics or in details as to why three members chose to resign in January 2016, and it would be inappropriate to speculate on their individual reasons. As a board we too were all saddened by these resignations and the loss of expertise from around our table.
  • That as President and Tumuaki, we followed what we believed was an ethical and sound process in addressing the issue of a breach of confidentiality, ensuring this breach was understood by the member and that reparatory action was undertaken. In hindsight it would appear that lack of any induction onto the board may have been in part responsible for this breach of confidentiality.  There has been NO further breach of confidentiality or any further cause of concern in respect of board members’ behaviour since January 2016.
  • That in our opinion if would be inappropriate to disclose further information which could result in further breach of confidentiality, however all board meeting minutes (with the exception of board only time) are available to all members on our ANZASW website.
  • That in a meeting in February 2016, restorative process occurred utilising the principles of tika, pono and aroha, in which as a collective of five voted board members we were able to renew our safe working space and reinstate our vision forward.
  • That at this same meeting in February 2016, the remaining five board members also received legal advice in respect of establishing ourselves as a full board again, including considering all standing down for a re-election process. This was advised against by our legal advisors and so a decision was made to hold an election for one voted member and to further co-opt expertise once a full board had been established.

Being in a leadership and kaitiaki role on the Governance Board is a privileged position, which none of us take lightly.  We are aware of those whose footsteps we follow, and of the history and role of our association.  We are also aware of those who will follow us, and the desire to ensure a fit and robust association for the 50 years to come.  We are also aware that our history as an association has not been one without struggle and have reminded each other many times of previous watershed moments in our history, which many of our members will have already lived through.

As a board we will stand united together at the SGM to indicate that we are a working and functioning unit, thinking strategically for what needs to be the future of our professional body.

Nga mihi, Anaru, Karen, James, Merrill, Paora


  • Paora Moyle

    Well professionalism is just more white privileged positioning when you have a proffesional body that will not address its internal racism.

  • Shelley Kirk

    Here’s my view on this. ANZASW is supposed to be our professional body with Board members who uphold the values and practice of SW. I do not see much of this being demonstrated with the lack of transparency and accountability with regards to breaches in confidentiality of board matters, the management of this event, the loss of board members and how we are to move forward.

    Social work has a value of social justice which is about challenging systems and processes not having personalized ‘bitchfests’ within our own profession. Are we not meant to be modeling respectful difference. Publically trashing our peers, in my book, does not equate with positive role modeling.

    Recently I voted for a clean slate for our board to start again fresh – our credibility as a professional group is at stake here folks!!! In-fighting and publicizing it is an embarrassment. I am assuming our constitution is a process that has been agreed upon by the profession so this is what needs to be upheld or modified if it is not reflecting the values and practice that our board should be modeling.

    I want to acknowledge that everyone’s view is valid – not necessarily right nor wrong but sometimes different; and the relational aspect is about coming to a place of respectful agreement regardless of ethnicity, gender, cultural, religious or other viewpoints. Bi-cultural values are embedded within SW practice – when these may not be evident there are more respectful ways of addressing this issue.

    ANZASW has bigger fish to fry – what about getting politically vocal about the things that are going to impact on how we work with the people we are trying to provide a service to. Is that not the point of SW after all???

    • Phill

      I agree Shelley. We as a group of PROFESSIONALS need to be working as one here. There are huge issues out there right now ,such as the review of CYF and what that means for all of us. We as a profession have been silent and dictated to, for too long from a group of people in Wellington who think they know what works best-why are we listening to these people? They are not trained Social Workers. Do Engineers take advice from Real estate agents when they are building a bridge? As a group we need to be speaking up for our profession and supporting and growing a professional body that can hold its own.
      We need ANZASW to be offering us a place to belong and a professional body that is providing our profession with the training ,support and innovative practice that we require.
      I, for one am tired of our profession being looked upon as a bunch of do- gooders out there drinking coffee and ‘thinking’ we are making a difference. We actually have to do what works and there is plenty of evidence out there that states what does work-we just need to do more of it. If you are practicing in a way that is not useful-please stop and move to a place where you can practice in a way that actually is effective. I am really questioning my future in this profession over all this and want to be proud of this Social Workers title-do you?

  • Everything I have ever written and talked about is publically available. People can determine for themselves the truth of my korero. I will not apologise for my lived-experience or expression of it. I will not take down any one of my blogs, which do not “publicly attack” any person. I have always been open to talking through the issues, but not in a way where I am ‘taken to task’ and told what I can and cannot say. Regardless of anyone’s opinion, it took considerable thought and courage on my part to go public about the many faces of racism in social work. It continues to take resolute courage. I was elected onto the Board by tangata whenua to represent them and I believe I have done so. I have never been “abusive” to anyone and if it is said that I have, then I ask the evidence be presented and I will be accountable to the tangata whenua membership and to the SWRB. Nga mihi nui Paora Crawford Moyle.

  • Liz Beddoe

    Is it relational to completely ignore people’s emails and requests for action? Is it relational to go straight to very public attack without at least trying to have a conversation? Is it relational to accuse colleagues of not answering valid and important questions when they did in fact go to great pains to do so? And took abuse in the process.
    You and I have a different understanding of what it means to be relational.

  • John Tumanako

    Kia ora,
    We have been following your blogs with interest for quite some time and although I am not an ANZASW member, I have considered joining since seeing your unrelenting voice for our people. Nga mihi to Marlana above and others for their support of you. I still remember how inspired our wananga of 50 tauira were after you presented your journey to us with such passion. You even inspired a waiata to be written for you. You have our faith and our tautoko to keep representing us all. Nowhere have I read or heard any korero from you that presents as injurious to any person’s reputation. What I see is you challenging the critical issues for our people and for tangata whenua practitioners in social work. You are carry yourself in a tika, pono, aroha way and we understand that sometimes tauiwi and tangata whenua ethics are polarised. I too support the current Board and the way in which they appear to have used a relational model of whanaungatanga to address any concerns. In social work, we have an ethical code which means ‘be ethical.’ It means when you get a critique of your ethics, whether it is in research or in practice, you take a good hard look at yourself. You don’t whine that you are the one being wronged. You can’t call yourself an advocate for social justice and at the same time complain because your privilege and unethical research behaviour are being challenged. You step up to the mat and get back in alignment with anti-oppression and anti-racism. You do not, in response, draw upon the power of your privileged position to become more oppressive under some misguided belief that you hold a moral high ground, because you don’t.
    What sanction were these people wanting or still seeking from you? Regardless, of those who seek to take you down, you are a rangatira in this mahi and you have done what we asked of you.
    Mauri ora e Paora
    Nga mihi John Tumanako

  • Marlana Maru, SWRB Registered Social Worker, ANZASW Member

    Tēnā koutou katoa,
    He uri ahau tēnei nō Ngāti Maniapoto, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Awa hoki.
    As a member of ANZASW I have until now mostly observed from the sideline. Until now I have chosen to refrain from entering into this particular discussion forum, and not react or respond publically. However, I have been reminded that my silence can be seen as further supporting a mono-cultural privileged position and further marginalise tangata whenua. I would like to categorically state that I am supportive of the board’s actions and decision to respond to the confidentiality breach. Do I need to know exactly how this was addressed, no. I am also supportive of the blog posts mentioned earlier in the comments thread. Why? I have been a member of the Association for a few years now, and my position and voice has not been reflected by the board until now. Now we have someone that has the courage to ask the difficult questions and to publically challenge issues such as racism and white privilege. This in turn gives me the courage to speak publically in forums such as this.
    Ngā mihi nui ki ā koe e Paora!
    Nā Marlana Maru

  • Lorraine Smith

    Thanks for your response Paora. Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui i roto i te huarahi tika!!

  • Paula Chamberlain

    thanks Paora for your response. See you at the SGM

  • Simon Lowe


    You make your comment directly to Neil despite the post being sent from Neil, Jane and myself.

    I refuse to enter into this any further until the SGM.

  • Thanks Neil for sharing the ‘taking a hit for calling out racism’ blog. Whilst I appreciate that you do not agree with its content, there is nothing “distorted or alleged” about my experience of being ‘taken to task’ inside that Board meeting. In the same way you remind me (above) about my obligation to the “code of ethics for the governance of the ANZASW board.” And how I expect I will be ‘taken to task’ at the coming SGM (sigh).

    It might help to know that I adhere to both Maori as well as Pakeha ethical guidelines. Confidentiality is a Pakeha construct that can protect abuse as well as the abused. I will always be firstly accountable to my own people, which means, when anyone of my whanau is transgressed (including myself), I will not be silent about it.

    In the same way, I will not be silent about racism and privileged positioning within NZ social work. A neon example being, that tangata whenua can be democratically voted onto the ANZASW Board by its tangata whenua membership, only to be voted off by tauiwi.

    I think it is incredibly sad and the epitome of privileged positioning that the very members who continue to talk about ‘my’ having damaged their professional reputations, could be perceived as doing exactly the same to the remaining Board members; whom only three months ago they sat in unity with.

    To my fellow Board members, truly honorable people and as dedicated to the Association as any have been before; who collectively have provided many years of faithful and competent service to social work and ANZASW. “Be strong enough to stand alone, be yourself enough to stand apart, but be wise enough to stand together when the time comes.”

    Now I am interested in focusing on ‘infinitely’ more important issues such as the release of final CYF review report which bought tears to myself and my colleagues when we see the stealth that will result from this report to further alienate whakapapa from whanau. The termination of the ‘ti’ in tikanga!

    Na Paora Moyle. See you all at the SGM.

  • Amy Ross

    I agree with your comments Karen. The board statement made me really angry as it was exactly like a piece of spin you may recieve from a politician, not an open and honest discussion. If not for my respect for staff and for the potential of ANZASW I would have resigned immediately. Its crunch time for ANZASW now, we need to sort this out get back to our mahi of advocating for and educating social workers.

  • Esteban Espinoza

    If members are unhappy pls stand for the next AGM.

  • Kia ora koutou,

    We feel compelled to respond to two statements made in the most recent communication from the ANZASW board about our resignation.

    Firstly, with regard to the board statement:

    That as current board members we are unable to speak in specifics or in details as to why three members chose to resign in January 2016, and it would be inappropriate to speculate on their individual reasons. As a board we too were all saddened by these resignations and the loss of expertise from around our table.

    We think we made our reasons perfectly clear in our letter of resignation to the Board and in the shorter message circulated to all ANZASW members (copied below):

    Further to the recent communication about resignations from the ANZASW governance board, this message is intended to clarify the situation with regard to the three board members Jane Maidment (elected), Simon Lowe (elected) and Neil Ballantyne (co-opted). All three of us resigned from the ANZASW Board reluctantly and for the same reasons. The reasons concerned a significant breach in the confidentiality of board discussions, a series of statements made by another board member (widely disseminated on social media) concerning the integrity of ourselves, our colleagues and our association. Following a period of reflection, we considered that to continue as board members was very likely to put ourselves and our reputations at further risk. In these circumstances we were of the view that the board was no longer a safe place for collegial discussion, and that we had no other choice but to resign.

    In the bullet point that immediately follows the one above, the board communication demonstrates that they are perfectly aware of why we chose to resign:

    That as President and Tumuaki, we followed what we believed was an ethical and sound process in addressing the issue of a breach of confidentiality, ensuring this breach was understood by the member and that reparatory action was undertaken. In hindsight it would appear that lack of any induction onto the board may have been in part responsible for this breach of confidentiality. There has been NO further breach of confidentiality or any further cause of concern in respect of board members’ behaviour since January 2016.

    We are curious what this “reparatory action” could have been when the blog post that precipitated our resignation remains on the board members blog site:

    Surely if the board member in question felt any responsibility or regret for the breach of confidentiality, or the distortions and allegations made, then the blog post would have been taken down? Instead, this board member has added another post, this time castigating ANZASW members engaged in the process of democratic decision-making and stating that:

    And now we face a half-informed motion of “no confidence” from some very well positioned Pākehā members.

    The code of ethics for the governance of the ANZASW board includes the statement that board members should:

    Not make, comment, issue, authorise, offer or endorse any public criticism or statement having or designed to have an effect prejudicial to the best interests of Aotearoa New Zealand Social Workers Association.

    Board members need to hold each other to account for their behaviour, and if not then the membership must hold the board to account. Colleagues, it is time for this damaging and divisive kōrero to stop, it is time for the governance of our association to be returned to its members. We look forward to the SGM and to the exercise of the democratic will of our association.

    Ngā Mihi,

    Neil Ballantyne, Jane Maidment & Simon Lowe

    • Dawn Jefferies

      I think the way this serious breach has been handled is a disgrace!!! we have lost 3 valued and skilled board members because of this breach…and now paying members are being kept in the dark with no reassurance this will not happen again… so the one person who caused the breach is being protected and we lose 3 of the best board members we have had…well its a vote of no confidence from me…and i will be reviewing my ANZASW membership…does it have any value to me…is it serving me as a paying member??
      I see this whole thing as badly handled

  • I share your sentiments Karen. I have personally been very disappointed to not receive any acknowledgement or response to an email sent to the co-chairs about a board members’s attacks on members in social media and the dissemination of misleading and insulting comment on colleagues’ research work. I have suffered personal impact from this behaviour. No apology has been made for the breach of confidentiality , which was quite appalling, and the misleading and insulting posts continue to be visible in the association’s communications.

    I am not able to attend the SGM but have given my proxy to a colleague and I urge members to do the same. I expect board members to be modelling respectful and transparent communication, not hiding behind obfuscation.

    Liz Beddoe

  • Susan Fitzgerald

    Thank you Karen, I totally agree with your stance in this instance .

  • Posted on behalf of KAREN MERRETT
    Thank you for forwarding the Board Statement email of today’s date to members today 5th April 2016.

    However again I am strongly of the opinion that the ANZASW Board, which has been appointed on behalf of and to serve the interests of its (paid) members, has once again continued practicing a lack of transparency and increased rhetoric in this response to enquiry from members.

    For example, on the one hand this Board Statement April 2016 advises members:
    “That in our opinion if would be inappropriate to disclose further information which could result in further breach of confidentiality, however all board meeting minutes (with the exception of board only time) are available to all members on our ANZASW website.”

    However if members explore the site and view the minutes of the meeting 12 December 2015, they may only note that while section 1.2 states:
    1.2 Opening Remarks
    It was noted that there were some difficult conversations to be had. The ANZASW values need to be the guide for these conversations. The Board needs to live and breathe the values.

    Section 1.4 further states:

    1.4 Conflict of Interest
    The meaning of ‘conflict of interest’ was queried.
    The CE read the Section from the Standing Orders: Board Charter in relation to conflicts of interest.
    No conflicts of interest were declared.

    The question which has been asked and remains begging for an answer, clearly remains: If no conflicts of interest were declared, then why have three honourable Board Members handed their immediate resignation on the basis of what must have been considered a serious breach of confidentiality for them to do so?

    Furthermore why are remaining ANZASW Board Members continuing to hide behind smoke-screens alluding to “legal advice” and interpretations of ‘Standing Orders’ in order to withhold valid information from its membership; thereby appropriating themselves as power holders of information and by that very act implying that the membership does not have the professional capacity to be entrusted with information that affects our choices both in voting and in choosing to be members of such an association?

    I for one am appalled at the process or rather lack of due process which remaining members of the ANZASW Board have elected to pursue in its handling on this matter and would hope that more transparent information about events which have taken place at a Board level since December 2015 may be dispersed to members prior to the SGM in Wellington in April, which is due to take place approximately one week before our next annual membership payments are due I believe.

    Yours sincerely

    Karen Merrett
    SWRB Registered Social Worker
    ANZASW Member

    • Dawn Jefferies

      I totally agree with your post and for me it is a vote of no confidence in regard to the board we have ..the way they have handled this matter….and the lack of information supplied in regard to this serious breach