APS Member Writes to the Board
Firstly a reminder, I wrote to yourself and other members of the Board via email on 14th May 2018. You replied that my request would be added to the agenda for the June Board meeting. Additionally I requested a reply, either from the Board, from individual Board members concerned or both. Could you please attend to that reply, it has been awhile.
There are two purposes in this current email.
Please Note: I have spoken with many other members about what follows and all are concerned, for this reason I am using the collective term “We” as the contents of these requests are truly not just mine.
We presume that the Board has made a submission to the Medical Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce and/or the Reference Group concerned with Mental Health Items.
We believe this is a reasonable presumption as the Board is beholden to the membership to perform such actions by the Constitution. That same constitution also requires that the Board represent the interests of the entire membership and informs the membership of actions the Board does perform in representing the membership.
So we request a true copy of the APS Submission to the current MBS Review – perhaps it could be placed on the web site for members to download.
Further to the above and if you do not agree to this request, could you please explain why the Board would decide to act at odds with what our constitution would require in this instance?
I also do request a reply to this communication in a timely manner, one week to a maximum of 10 days, as this is an urgent request. It would be most helpful for all of the APS membership if the contents of this submission could be disseminated to members immediately as the relevant panel is in a process of considering all submissions and members may want to contact representatives on the panel with additional relevant information. Indeed in a truly open, unifying and collaborative process dissemination of the APS submission to the membership and wide consultation before the submission is made would be a given.
This is a request for more information, including more valid information, to be disseminated to the membership of the APS by the Board.
It is very important to note that we make this request because we most sincerely want to create greater unity within our society and among psychologists everywhere, regardless of qualifications or specific interests.
We notice, on the APS web site that Board meetings, which usually span two days are reported very parsimoniously. The two day meeting is summarised into four headings and there is often a mere paragraph of information under each heading. We would like to be much more informed, actually as informed as we possibly can be. We do have some suggestions to offer in the spirit of greater openness, transparency, shared unity of purpose, and overall collaborative process.
Can the board offer a lot more information about Board meetings. Information we would find helpful is:
• What motions were discussed
• What were the votes for each motion
• For each motion, what were the percentages of the overall time spent on the motion
• What decision making process(es) does the board use, is it usually discussion followed by a simple majority vote? Are different decision making processes used, if so what are these and when and how are they used?
We would also like to be able to request the minutes of the board meetings. We realise that, for some matters, there can be legal implications that may place some restrictions upon the board in the dissemination of the relevant information, however such matters are usually not discussed at board meetings. Most boards discuss such matters during less formal processes. There is nothing in the current constitution that states members cannot access the minutes of board meetings. So member access to the minutes, or otherwise, appears to be a decision which is made by the board.
We would find it helpful if the agenda for any specific board meeting is offered to the membership prior to the meeting as we may have some suggestions.
We are also wondering more broadly and specifically about the structure and processes used within board meetings. These crucially important aspects are not mentioned in most constitutions but they have potentially profound implications for an organisation. The structures and processes a board designs and implements significantly drive the organisation along the continuum from secretive and closed to open and accountable. The offerings from the board to the membership thus far are shifted toward the secretive end of the above continuum. So we are wondering why the board has chosen this approach and requesting a far more open and transparent one. Here is an example of a structure and process that is strongly shifted toward open and accountable. This is not a request that the following be implemented, it is included here merely for illustrative purposes.
Board meetings are attended by board members and other members of the society as observer/reporters to the wider membership. Any member who wishes to attend a board meeting makes themselves available beforehand and they are entered into a selection pool. The selection process from this pool is ‘random selection’. This is similar to the jury system and is also used in consultative community processes. Experiences suggest that individuals who are randomly selected from pools rather than voted for in polls are far more likely to act for the greater purpose as they consider themselves to be ‘in service’. Additionally, these individuals cannot be lobbied by sectional interests who selected them as they are randomly selected. A structure and process such as the above would provide a validity check on selective or partial information dissemination that currently distances the board from the membership.
While I am requesting a timely response to all of the above, please consider that the request for the APS Submission to the MBS Review is the most urgent of the above items.
APS Membership Number: 036947
PS To encourage the open style of communication we surely all seek and support, this request and your subsequent reply will be posted in areas of interests for APS members.
A second email was sent on Thursday 26th July with a correction to the First Request above. This email asked for true copies of ALL APS submissions to the MBS Review Taskforce/Reference Group for Mental Health Items.
To be fair to all involved the relevant constitutional objects are:
1 (a) To advance the scientific study and professional practice of psychology and enhance the contribution of psychology to the promotion of the public welfare by encouraging the development of all branches of psychology …;
1 (k) To consider and advise on any question of psychological policy referred to it for consideration by any group or member of the Society or any other body.
The first object is quite clear and is even explicated in the 2018 nomination form that states, “Directors are not elected or appointed to act as representatives of any of the Society’s component parts – such as a particular College or Division.”
The second object above 1 (k) is open to some interpretation, however in an open and transparent system it would translate into open communication between the board and members. This clearly and most unfortunately is not what is being delivered by our board.