NEWS > General
Posted by Marketing on 07/08/2020.

Equestrian WA Members Forum –– August 2020

Dear Equestrian WA members,

It is vital that you have your say about the future of EA now. Please read this important update and complete this survey here.

The EWA Board is keen to hold an open dialogue with its members regarding the Equestrian Australia (‘EA’) Administrator KordaMentha’s proposed changes to the EA’s constitution in the lead up to the Special General Meeting (‘SGM’) called by KordaMentha whereby EWA will need to vote to approve or reject the proposed changes.

We ask you, a current member, to read the information below, complete the survey and attend our proposed Members meeting if possible.

The second EA creditor’s meeting took place on Tuesday 14th July. KordaMentha’s DOCA was passed with the outcome of the meeting set in place the following actions:

  1. KordaMentha to call for a special general meeting of EA to amend the EA Constitution. This meeting is to be held on 15th September 2020.
  2. The purpose of the Constitutional changes are:
  • Change of voting procedure to ‘One member, one vote” thereby giving states with more members a greater say in EA than states with fewer members (e.g. WA).
  • Changes to the EA nomination committee to recommend potential EA Board members.
  • The appointment of an interim EA Board by KordaMentha
  • Responsibility and the opportunity for organisational reform is within the remit of the new Board

EA Constitution with Proposed Changes DRAFT

At the second creditor’s meeting, 170 (of 2,025) EWA members voted with 55% for and 44% against KordaMentha’s DOCA. The EWA Board has received feedback that there was some confusion from members as to the process for the second meeting, along with some members not receiving their unique ID number to enable voting.

The Board also recognises that 170 members voting is a small percentage of our current total membership base of 2,025.

The EWA Board has several concerns about the proposed changes and the impact they have on the future organisational review and reform.

The EA Constitution, in its current format, was constructed to ensure the smaller states have a voice and equal vote to the larger states on national matters. Currently, the EA constitution requires greater than 75% of the Branches to achieve a Majority to approve a Special General Meeting Resolution (for example alteration of the EA Constitution) and more than 50% of the Branches to make an Ordinary Majority.

To change the eligibility of voting members requires all 6 Branches to vote unanimously. The Branches are the organisations who are on the ground, overseeing the running the sport in each state and have a line of sight into the challenges faced by the sport on a day to day basis.

While we agree with the concept of one member, one vote sounds promising as it gives all members the ability to be involved and vote on changes to equestrian sport in Australia. However, from a Western Australian perspective, our concerns with “One member, one vote” include:

  1. EWA members represent approximately 12% of the current national membership; therefore, our members’ voice is small within the total EA membership.
  2. Even when smaller State membership is combined, being WA, SA and Tasmania, the total is under 20% of the total EA membership. This highlights the potential for WA and the smaller States voice to be lost with the implementation of “One member, one vote”. Under the current constitution, the combination of WA, SA and Tasmania would be able to reject any proposed resolutions not favourable to the smaller States. The proposed change to one member, one vote will enable the larger states to control the appointment of Directors to the EA Board.
  3. The recent problems of the EA Board and the solvency of EA cannot be fixed in such a simple manner as changing the voting. An interim appointed board to broadly consult with all members, appropriately cost alternate structures and then provide an opportunity for informed decisions to be made is a far more appropriate process.
  4. The implementation of “One member, one vote” once passed at the EA SGM would establish a new voting structure for EA that would be very difficult to change in the future and possibly reduce the voice of WA members forever.
  5. KordaMentha’s focus on this one change before clarifying genuine governance reform at all levels is “putting the cart before the horse.” This one change will not solve the current issues or other governance concerns.

Please see the link to EWA’s message re Equal and Equitable representation and why we think this is important for EWA members in considering the proposed changes to the EA Constitution.

The EWA Board supports the appointment of an interim EA Board; however, we have a concern that it should not be KordaMentha’s sole discretion following the SGM:

  1. KordaMentha will appoint an independent nomination committee (NC) to recommend nine new board members of EA. The EWA Board does not believe that it should be at the sole discretion KordaMentha to appoint the NC but do support the concept of an NC being formed.
  2. KordaMentha only has to consider the recommendations of the NC when the Administrators appoint the new board. The EWA Board believes that this process is not transparent.
  3. The KordaMentha appointed board is then in place for up to 2 years. It is during this time that the future structure of EA will be reviewed and this will be overseen by a Board that is appointed by KordaMentha and does not necessarily represent the membership.

The EWA’s Board is supportive of the implementation of the organisational review, however, has these reservations:

  • In proposing that the voting process is changed before the organisational review, the EWA Board believes that the representative voice that WA members have through their elected Board will be removed in any proposed organisational changes. The EWA Board prefers a considered approach to a review of EA and the structure in two stages:
  1. Implement a considered and thorough review of the organisational structure and propose a new structure.
  2. Change the EA constitution to enable the introduction of the new structure with appropriate representational voting introduced at this time.
  • By having an appointed board that is selected by KordaMentha implement the review process raises concerns about the process to be followed and the outcome. This concern was highlighted when KordaMentha canvased for proposed EA organisational models, none of which are based on membership engagement, service or financial modelling, and were completed rapidly and under time pressure.
  • The KordaMentha appointed board is in place for up to 2 years, or until an SGM is called, during this time, the new board determines the organisational review process. The EWA Board believes that the input of EWA members and the smaller states may not be represented once the voting structure is changed and EWA and the other state branches are no longer able to represent the interests of equestrian sports in each state.

The EWA Board’s preferred review process is as follows:

  1. A grassroots to Olympic review of members’ requirements, starting at grassroots up to our elite High Performance members.
  2. Enquire what do our members need from EA and the National discipline Committees as Adult/Junior/ competitive/ participant and recreational members.
  3. What do our members need from State branches and State Sports Committees as Adult/ Junior/ competitive/ participant and recreational members?
  4. What do clubs need at State and National level
  5. Coaching and Officials
  6. Safety and welfare, rules and policies
  7. HP at National/State level
  8. FEI and AOC requirements
  9. EA and Sport Australia
  10. State Government Departments’ of Sport requirements for ongoing appropriate funding support

Our preference of a detailed organisational review is to identify 1 to 3 organisation structures and outline proposed governance and communication outcomes, establish financial modelling on the costs of service delivery and efficiency gains of each model before recommending a new structure.

The reason a detailed review is required is identified in some issues that need to be considered:

  • If the State branches are replaced with an administration office run by EA, the current funding that EWA receives from the WA Department of Sport, $180,000pa would be at risk.
  • What if any administrative savings would be achieved?
  • The operations of the SEC would be required to be separated from EWA without a proper review being followed.
  • It is estimated that approximately 15% of EWA members join solely because of the SEC discounts; these members are at risk of leaving EWA.
  • In 2019 EWA members listed their interest in the following sports Dressage 1079, Eventing 779, Jumping 714 and Show Horse 305. The competition licences issued for horses to compete in the official competitions was Dressage 469, Eventing 383, Jumping 412 and Show Horse 247. This highlights the small numbers involved in WA and the importance of staying united.
  • EWA’s has a unique sport levy scheme for funding the sport that raised $121,000 in 2019. This would also be at risk.
  • How would the new model improve State to EA Sport committee processes?
  • Swabbing at EWA events other than FEI Eventing is paid by proceeds from competition licenses - this is unique to WA. In other states, a levy is added at events making entry fees higher.
  • 47% of members are Competitive members, Coaches or Officials, it is the remaining 53% Participant, Adult rider and Recreational members that are most at risk if the Sport is nationalised.
  • EWA is the only State with Adult rider membership this could also be a risk.
  • A restructure could see an alternative organisation capture the grass root members, reducing EWA (and therefore EA membership – leading to the remaining members paying higher membership fees for the same or less support.

These issues are just some of the many that require a considered review.

Once the services required and the best way to administer the sport is identified and costed, propose a new organisational structure to the members for consideration.

This review will require the engagement of a professional governance review provider and will require the support of Sport Australia.

Because of the concerns listed and the low engagement of EWA members at the second creditor’s meeting, the EWA Board does not support all of the proposed EA constitutional changes at the upcoming EA SGM.

You may be concerned about what happens to our FEI membership and our Olympians if the Branches do not support KordaMentha’s DOCA. The Branches have sought and received confirmation from the FEI and the Australian Olympic Council that regardless of the outcome at the SGM, our Olympians will be able to compete at Tokyo and members compete at FEI competitions.

Additionally, if KordaMentha DOCA’s proposed changes are not supported at the SGM by the Branches, the Branches and KordaMentha can negotiate and establish a mutually agreeable position rather than placing the Equestrian Australian into liquidation. This is and has been, the Branches objective during this process.

If you would like to be involved, please consider the following avenues we have established to have an open dialogue with our members:

  • Complete the survey to let us know your thoughts. Please encourage your friends and family who are also members to complete this survey (You will need your member number) the survey closes 21st August 2020.
  • If possible, attend the Members meeting Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 7 pm at the SEC. The meeting can be attended online via Zoom. Please note that you will require to register for this forum regardless if you wish to attend the forum in person or online. 
  • Provide questions to the Members meeting by Monday, 24th August 2020. These questions will be answered and published. Submit your questions via the link here.

Following the public meeting and reviewing the survey responses, the EWA Board will provide a summary of the outcomes and the actions the board will be proposing for the EA SGM.

Other Top News