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AIPP votes in constitutional changes

At the recent Annual General Meeting of the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography), the organisation voted in a new Constitution.

AIPP National President John Swainston explains to Inside Imaging readers the major changes and why the AIPP chose to completely re-write the document:

When the new Board was formed in April 2018, we felt it vital to appoint a specialist group to develop a new constitution. As President I sought out former Presidents and Vice Presidents over a span of the last 15 years who knew where we had been, and who had to face the practical issues involved in governance and management of the Institute. The group consisted of Anna Blackman APP.L M.Photog. II; Roger Rosentreter APP; Robert Edwards APP.L Hon. FAIPP; Ross Eason APP.L APP.L M.Photog. I Hon. FAIPP Hon. LM; and William Long APP.L M.Photog. V FBIPP FRPS Hon. LM; as well as the National President to ensure Board interaction along the way.

William Long was elected Chair and Roger Rosentreter, Secretary. It’s perhaps a sign of how things have changed in communication these days that the Committee actually never met face to face, except through Zoom videoconferencing. Legal advice was provided generously by John Sinisgalli of Sinisgalli-Foster Attorneys in Melbourne. This review of the changes summarises some 70 pages across two Constitutions. It doesn’t cover every change, but does outline the major directional changes.

The AIPP is a company Limited by Guarantee. As a Company it is governed by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth.). The most recent Constitution was adopted in 2013, but it was the third re-write since incorporation in the mid-1990s. It suffered from the multiple re-writes, and no longer fully met the needs of a largely volunteer organisation. In making changes we were also very conscious that as a Not-for-Profit organisation, government had foreshadowed future changes to associations’ regulation that might bring the AIPP under the ACNC (Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission) umbrella. As a result, we developed an all-new Constitution developed from the master template from the ACNC. In so doing we now not only comply with the latest updates of the Corporations Act, but are ready with a compliant document should the oversight of associations like ours come under the ACNC instead of ASIC. If not it remains fully current under the present regulatory environment.

The changes come under four major headings:
1. Candidate Eligibility, Selection and Term
2. Technology and Form of meetings
3. Liability
4. Ongoing Change

Candidate Eligibility, Selection and Term
The organisation wants to be able to draw on the depth of experience in its number. So we have increased the number of potential elected directors from 6-8, and from 2-3 for Co-opted directors, – those that the Board appoint to add special experience or skills deemed to be inadequately represented. The Nominations Committee plays a larger part in assisting the Board in finding suitable candidates as directors, and local operations are expanded with larger councils and chapters for the regions (state AIPPs). These changes are aimed at getting back to a grassroots membership, more relevant to someone in the regions and enabling the long view of members’ activity so that generally elected Board members will have already demonstrated long term commitment to involvement and development in both their business and in participation in AIPP events.

Five years as an Accredited Photographer is up from the previous three to qualify for election to the Board, and instead of Service Points a simpler two years’ service on a Council or Committee. In this way elected members of the Board now have to have extensive experience within the Institute and therefore have a fundamental understanding of the culture. Embedded within the Objects of the Constitution, down from 34 to 15, is a commitment to Diversity in its broadest sense, – age spread, gender, cultural background, etc… The term of office is now 3 x 2-year terms, instead of 2 x 3-year terms, recognising the additional workload of Directors in the new structure, and a need to recognise not everyone can give six years of service at that level. There are now some limits to overall tenure in most committees, encouraging renewal and accelerating the recognition for diversity at all levels of the organisation.

Technology and Form of Meetings
We can now have extended general meetings electronically. We are now allowed to have two- way electronic meetings. The AGM and other Meetings, including Council activity, can not only be livestreamed out, but we can now have questions from members attending electronically. There may be some initial limits to this which are more financial and technical than cultural.

Liability of members
The personal liability of a member is now $25, replacing the $20 previously. This simply reflects the potential costs of winding up an organisation these days, compared to the time of incorporation.

Ongoing Change
Instead of charters managed previously by the Board and National office, Bylaws have replaced them and there are now 5 rather than nearly 20. They cover Councils, Membership, Awards, Management and Committees. To assist the Board’s workload, the Constitution Committee has a remit to provide initial discussion documents to provide the initial bylaw. The bylaws are based in large part on structural elements of the former Charters. The Board then reviews these drafts, gives its input and then they are re-drafted. They then go to Committees and Councils for input, back to the Board for a final review and the final draft is carried out by the Constitution Committee. The Board then circulates these drafts to the membership as a whole, calls for a vote and they are either passed at a General Meeting or by Circular Resolution electronically with a specified number of members required to vote.

It is now mandated that Minutes of Board decisions be published regularly, something the Board implemented last April in the interests of better information for members. Just as important, membership categories may also need to embrace change, recognising the many part-time professionals as well as more traditional studio-based practice. Professional Video Producers, now very much a key part of the AIPP, will bring different perspectives to their respective Awards, Accreditation and CPD. The new Constitution makes all such evolutions much easier to accommodate without having to modify the Constitution each time some new technical development occurs.

What has not changed
Policy is determined by the Board to enable the organisation to run. Wide-scale consultation on new policies is to be undertaken, but ultimately the Board is elected and appointed to act and it is not viable to have such decision-making and management process removed from the Board. The culture of the organisation is still clearly of members helping members, and continuous personal growth through both CPD processes and Awards. We are committed to advocate for photographers in copyright, workplace regulations, OH & S areas – especially in industrial workplaces and with birthing and newborn photography – and photographer access to otherwise public places, such as national parks, city locations etc.

Future Direction
The new Constitution does not in itself influence key marketing aspects of where the Institute will be going in the future. The Board is determined that today’s AIPP looks forward, informed by its heritage, but not stifled by it. New technologies, new demand patterns for photography, and changing income possibilities, all require the Institute to be nimbler, more outward-looking and of more appeal to a very large number of working photographers who, for whatever reason, either no longer feel the AIPP meets their needs, or have yet to become a member.

In 2019 the Board will be holding a major three-year strategic review, at the beginning of March. A number of White Papers will be issued in January and February on key facets of the profession. The Board will be hoping that all photographers, members or not, will feel value in providing feedback. This year was one of consolidation and re-structure. The 2019 year is about moving forward to a brave new world that is rather different to the norms of the last 55 years of the Institute’s life.

The Board, Committees and Councils in states and territories are keen to hear from members and rebuild the AIPP as a relevant, forward-looking organisation, with great traditions to support it, but with innovation and openness to change, so that it can truly serve the needs of members and their clients as photography and professional video production evolve.
- John Swainston
AIPP National President.

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