The Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) has responded to questions regarding a number of recent structural changes, such as introducing chapters, changing board positions, amending the constitution and membership.
After two e-mails to AIPP board members went unanswered this year, Inside Imaging recently noted how the AIPP was avoiding communication with this publication. Apparently the e-mails went missing.
This time around the e-mail landed securely in the in-tray of AIPP operations manager, Matt Palmer, who has been serving in this part-time role since March, 2019 according to his LinkedIn profile.
It has been a while since we spoke with the AIPP, so the scope of the questions are wide. We had planned to run a series of articles having first dealt with some of the burning questions which have remained unanswered for many months. Of primary interest is how the AIPP Board enacted major structural change without consulting membership or having a vote, as has previously been the process.
In 2018 the AIPP appointed a Constitutional Committee consisting of six members, who drafted changes to clean up references to redundant areas – such as the role of the now-closed National Office – and provided more power to State Councils. At the AIPP’s 2018 AGM, the constitution was successfully amended after more than 75 percent of members, around 1000 people, voted in favour. This required the AIPP to mobilise members to communicate how urgent it was to vote through the change, and the strategy was to have ’10 people… speak with 10 people, who then talk to another 10 people,’ said then-AIPP President, John Swainston, at the time.
With this in mind, there was confusion when the current AIPP board simply dissolved State Councils and replaced them with Chapters, and changed the role of National President to Chair. Just like in 2018, this is baked into the constitution, yet there wasn’t the due process of appointing a committee and having a vote. Alternatively, if the AIPP’s structure can be so easily changed by the board, then why wasn’t this more simple process enacted in 2018?
The AIPP has assured members the new structural change are legal and done with appropriate consultation, but hasn’t explained how it was possible.
Here’s the Q&A with AIPP operations manager, Matt Palmer.
Inside Imaging: In a blog post the AIPP wrote: ‘The AIPP Board has left no stone unturned to ensure they are legally and correctly operating within the bounds of the Constitution…’ Can you please expand on this. What was the legal/correct process used to introduce Chapters, dissolve State Councils and replace the President with Chair?
Matt Palmer: These AIPP structural changes are part of a greater vision to better serve members, enable members to better connect with each other, create exciting events, bolster our advocacy for the creative industries, and allow more opportunities for members wishing to enter the arts. This is undertaken while meeting the challenges and disruption of Covid-19.
The constitution gives directors broad powers to amend the structure of the institute, and appropriate counsel was obtained before enacting those powers. These are outlined in 11.1 Powers of directors. All AIPP members have access to the Constitution.
The current constitution doesn’t appear to reflect the AIPP’s structure. It still references National President, State Councils, with no mention of Chapters, etc. How is the AIPP able to operate with an outdated Constitution? Will it be updated?
AIPP will be updating the Constitution to be ratified at the 2021 AGM. In May 2021 members were contacted to have their input and feedback on the current Constitution and By-laws for consideration in making these changes.
The AIPP hasn’t lodged a financial report with ASIC since 2018. Is this currently on the agenda?
AIPP can confirm it is currently meeting all its obligations with ASIC.
Can you share the current financial data with Inside Imaging?
AIPP Members can view detailed financial reports of the institute through their membership home area on the AIPP website. Anyone wishing to view this information can do so by becoming an AIPP member.
Is the AIPP dependant on the APPA awards being a financial success to continue to operate?
No, AIPP would not rely on awards revenue to continue serving its members. We encourage everyone to get behind the AIPP APPAs by entering, and by attending or viewing the fantastic judging in-person or online for free. Watching past year’s of AIPP judging, available on AIPP Awards YouTube, is an incredible and freely available learning resource.
What’s the business model of Chapters?
Chapters empower local leadership, local and national collaboration, and are encouraged to hold events and discussions that benefit Chapter members. Chapters are supported by State Coordinators and the AIPP Operations Team. Chapters can choose to operate with their own bank account so that any event profits are returned to the local area. All of this information is explained in our Chapters Handbook. Chapters can host anything from aerial workshops with Peter Eastway in the Northern Territory, a local coffee meet-up, or a q&a on Zoom.
We also have hard-working committees that deliver events for all members, such as the Online Content Committee (OCC), Awards Committee, and our Operations Team. During the first Covid outbreak the AIPP Operations Team created over 30 online events in collaboration with generous AIPP Accredited Members which were free for anyone to attend. Recently our OCC ran Level Up Your Impact with speakers such as Jerry Ghionis, Peter Rossi, Charmaine Heyer, David Evans, Katherine Williams and many more from $29. Many more exciting events are on the way.
Has the introduction of General Members and Chapters opened the AIPP up to more membership? What’s the current number of members, and how’s it tracked compared with previous years?
The introduction of General Members encompasses multiple membership types such as enthusiasts, retired members, emerging members and more. It is a simplification of multiple member categories that previously existed, and better allows us to communicate clearly about the benefits of AIPP membership to potential members. Chapters can connect these members to other members in their area or niche groups that interest them.
AIPP membership has understandably suffered along with the broader creative industries due to Covid-19, however the AIPP community has been incredibly resilient and the outlook is positive for future growth.
How many General Members are there, and how many Accredited members?
* Matt referred this statement: ‘Please note that where information is commercial in confidence or may impact on the privacy of members or a member questions will not be answered (this is in a general sense). I have attempted to provide you as clear an answer to each question in good faith and hope that is reflected in whatever is produced.’
When did you become the Operations Manager and what’s this role entail? What’s the basis of this employment [full-time, part-time]?
The AIPP Operations Manager role manages the daily operations of the AIPP and its team, as well as supporting the needs of AIPP’s board, committees, State Coordinators, Chapters and of course AIPP’s members. Every team member including the AIPP Operations Manager is part-time and works flexibly to ensure we can meet challenges and increased workloads around certain events, and provide a punctual response to any membership requirements.
Editor’s Note: Matt has simply ignored some questions and spun a web of corporatese in responding to others. When we pointed this out, he told us he was concerned that our questions had an agenda. He wrote: ‘While I appreciate your questions are written cleanly within the lines, there is plenty being asked outside of them: Is AIPP competent; is it operating legally; how much money is it making or losing; is it transparent with its own members; could it collapse if awards don’t go well and is it gouging entrants to keep it afloat; is the AIPP even relevant?’
He suggested that a more suitable set of questions would be:
– Has the AIPP has reduced the cost of both Accredited and General Membership in the past two years. How has it achieved this in such a tumultuous period?
– What are the aims of AIPP’s revisions to its constitution and recent board restructure?
– How is AIPP meeting the challenges of staying relevant in a rapidly adapting industry?
– What makes the APPA Awards stand out from other competitions flooding the marketplace?
– How is the AIPP working to attract new members?
…While we naturally appreciate Matt’s expert input into what are the best questions for us to ask, it seems to be based on the troubling assumption that when a journalist asks a difficult question, it’s an act of hostility. We don’t ascribe to that somewhat paranoid world view here at Inside Imaging.