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Posted by Marketing on 06/07/2020.

Changes to Voting

On Thursday last week, the CEO, Chair and members of Board met with the sport discipline committee chairs to discuss the proposed change to voting rights for EA.  The EWA Board feel that it is important to explain why we and most of the other state branches are proposing an alternative to the “one member, one vote” model.  This is not about restricting your rights as an individual member to be involved in the governance of your sport but is about empowering members who would not otherwise get a voice in the process.

Here's why.  There’s a big difference between equality and equity.  Equality means that everyone is treated the same- one member, one vote.  This sounds ideal at first look, but the problem with an equal vote is that it assumes that all members are starting from the same place with the same opportunities and the same disadvantages.  With a country as geographically diverse, and a range of sport disciplines, (some with large participation rates, some still very small) it is simply impossible to ensure that all individual members from each state and territory are starting from the same place.

It's also important to understand that the proposed voting restructure is not in order to allow members to vote on every decision the EA board makes, as some seem to think, but who votes to elect the EA board and who is required to vote on any future changes to the constitution of the organisation.

Currently, 6 state branches have the voting rights, and as it stands the 3 smaller states- WA, SA and TAS- can’t be steamrolled into a change or decision that will disadvantage them.  If the vote falls to 3-3, negotiations take place to reach the required 75% to pass any changes.  This system does mean it is currently equitable towards the states and their member’s various unique needs and situations.  The branches vote after consultation with their state boards, who vote in the interest of their state members.

Moving towards equality in the voting system- one member, one vote- would potentially be disadvantageous to the smaller states.  The membership numbers of the 3 smaller states and NT combined are still less than the total of NSW alone for example.  So, if a constitutional change was proposed that advantaged NSW, and disadvantaged SA, WA, NT and TAS, even if every single member in those smaller states voted on it, it would make no difference to the result.  An equal vote could, potentially, lead to the larger states bullying the smaller states.

What the state branches are proposing is voting reform, to allow for a more representative vote, but still remain an equitable one.  The state branches are proposing that the voting rights be changed to the 7 states/ territory each with one vote, the National Discipline committees each with one vote, each of the state Discipline committees each with one vote.  This would mean a change of 6 voting members to 56, and a 75% agreement would still need to be reached for any changes to be passed.

We feel that this is a truly equitable and representational model.  The state Discipline committees, for example, SJ Committee in WA, would canvass their participant riders on particular issues, discuss at the committee level, and decide as a committee what vote would be in their rider’s best interest.  Each rider would still have a voice, via their state discipline committee and state branches.  In fact, this may even have the positive side effect of connecting those committees with their riders in a more collaborative and meaningful way.

It might seem like semantics, discussing an “equal” vote compared to an “equitable” voting system, but it is a huge difference in practicality. The EWA board feels that for the future of our sport in our state it would be remiss of us to not fight for our members to have an equitable voice.

It’s also important to note that Sports Australia is recommending the “one member, one vote” model to EA for the very first time ever.  No other national sporting organisation has this system.  EA is being treated as a guinea pig in an experiment that could have serious implications for our WA members.  

Consider this, we elect our MP’s and Senators to vote in parliament on laws and legislation on our behalf.  We, as individual citizens, don’t vote on each change to legislation.  We vote to select those who will represent us, based on shared values and beliefs.  You, as a member of EWA, absolutely have that right, and that will not change.  The upcoming proposed changes to the current EWA committee voting process will mean that all members will easily and simply be able to vote for the committee members of their choice in the sports they love and participate in.  All EWA members are able to vote for board members, and make the choice on who you would like to be leading the organisation.

These rights to vote for the committee you want to grow your sport and the state board you want to govern and grow your sport in this state are and always will be protected, and your voice counts.  Unfortunately, the proposed “one member, one vote” model will mean that the 2,500 odd WA voices will not be heard amongst the 18,000 strong EA membership in a general vote.

EWA will fight for an equitable voting process for you, our members.  We hope that we will have your support. 

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