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AIPP addresses structural changes

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.

Some background:

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.

This clause in the constitution was used by the board to enact major structural change without going to a vote of members. 11.1 4a) ‘directors may: create, combine, split or disband any business structures including, but not limited to, committees or councils of the Institute’.

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?
See above.*

* 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.




  1. Chris Oaten Chris Oaten August 30, 2021

    I recall with clarity being called into a meeting of South Australian members to hear why the crisis had occurred at the national office, what was going to be done about it, and how the AIPP would move forward. Except we weren’t told why what had happened had happened. Instead, we were told that the details of the goings on could not, under legal advice, be disclosed.

    Right there and then I knew that as an organisation the AIPP had descended to farce. I’m proud not to be a member.

  2. Mieke Boynton Mieke Boynton August 30, 2021

    I am a proud, accredited AIPP member and have been since 2017, and I’m a full-time professional photographer. Although I have enjoyed many “Inside Imaging” articles in the past (and been grateful to be a featured photographer in some of those articles!), I feel that “Inside Imaging” has now descended into rumour-mongering and stirring the pot for click-bait. This is not quality journalism.

    The AIPP is a fantastic organisation, run mostly by volunteers, that offers a huge array of benefits to members, including professional development opportunities, Copyright advice, image critique, business advice and resources, a world-class Awards judging system, and a rich and vibrant facebook page where members seek and receive advice on every photographic topic under the sun! The AIPP even offers social opportunities via Zoom while we can’t meet in person. In this uncertain and challenging climate, when so many of us are simply trying to make ends meet, an organisation that is looking out for us, and supporting us in whatever ways they can should be commended, not slandered.

    • Malcolm Mathieson Malcolm Mathieson August 30, 2021

      Mieke, I think for transparency you should declare your personal connections to paid National Office staff or contractors. To not do so diminishes the valid points you make.

    • Will Shipton Will Shipton Post author | August 31, 2021

      Hey Mieke,
      I’d be delighted if you, or anyone else, were to make a contribution to Inside Imaging. Whether that’s expanding on your thoughts about the AIPP and your experience with the Institute, or how Inside Imaging’s coverage is slander/rumour mongering/click bait. It’s an open platform, and anyone may take the floor. Cheers, Will

  3. Hilary Wardhaugh Hilary Wardhaugh August 30, 2021

    This is very sad. I honestly hope it can recover and yet I feel quite pessimistic. The focus needs to be on helping the profession, the rights of photographers and mentoring members…. oh wait, it used to do that….sigh

  4. Eric Victor Eric Victor August 30, 2021

    The strength of the AIPP was its culture. It was established to support professional members and the betterment of photography. The continuation of this tradition and the passing of the baton from generations to generations was the key for continuity and success.
    The dramatic event of the last few years broke that thread. The various boards went for an easy solution which had no understanding for the culture of the AIPP. The business model become one of a company cloaked in ” Board secrecy”. This has created a fracture amongst the very core of the association, of its modus operandi , its role and purpose. We lost our mind and reason to be ! We are now left with the shell of an organisation which is struggling to survive, let alone offer support, ideas and solutions to its ” enthusiastic” members.

  5. Sara McKenna Sara McKenna August 30, 2021

    The “Editor’s note” is exactly what I was thinking until I reached that point in the article. Why is there so much avoidance with answering basic, simple questions? Surely membership numbers is not breaching any confidence, for example. The AIPP seems to be governed by a Board who is in hiding and a mouthpiece who is either without the authority to be honest with members and interested parties or really doesn’t know or understand what is going on. Now is not the time to try to be clever and throw around the marketing corporatese. No-one is interested with the usual AIPP spin that doesn’t address the facts or answer the questions.

  6. Melissa Neumann Melissa Neumann August 30, 2021

    I’m still in therapy after trying to create a more transparent board environment. It’s irrelevant in today’s world. And again the funding is all about supporting a national office and not members.

  7. Orlando Sydney Orlando Sydney August 30, 2021

    I’m not a member of AIPP but have had an interest the last few years watching from the sidelines wondering if things will settle down and if it’s a place for me.

    Since the curiosity I’ve become a member of 2 Chambers and 2 Associations. I keep reading that the AIPP are still a work in progress. Do I invest the $500 or whatever it is in another association. Is there a benefit for the time and money?

    “is the AIPP even relevant?” good question. Without a clear value proposition from them…

    One thing is for sure. The pressure is on and it will be that way for the next couple of years while we all crawl our way out of the covid hole.

    And the Australian Centre for Photography is still looking for a breath of fresh air and some sunshine, hope they find it soon.

    What an interesting time to be a photographer in Australia

  8. Rog - AIPP Constitution Committe Chair (2019) Rog - AIPP Constitution Committe Chair (2019) August 30, 2021

    Except that Clause 11.1 4 also has an ‘AND’, which is a condition of changing rules or by-laws…

    11.1 4 The directors may:
    a) create, combine, split or disband any business structures including, but not limited to, committees or councils of the Institute, and
    b) create and adopt by-laws for each business structure or part thereof subject to clause 16.2.

    16.2 Adoption of Rules and By-Laws
    Rules and By-Laws may only be adopted when they have been ratified and approved by the members at a general meeting or by way of a circular resolution of members.

  9. Paul H Paul H August 30, 2021

    Member based organisations need to be open and transparent with its members

    In order for a member based organisation to be sustainable it also needs to be open about its challenges and be able to actively listen to its membership, not see that inquiry and questioning as some form of nay-saying.

    Debate and discussion should be encouraged, along with actively engaging members, otherwise the organisation will become insular and self serving

  10. Peter Jacobsen Peter Jacobsen August 31, 2021


    • Will Shipton Will Shipton Post author | August 31, 2021

      Welcome back Peter, I’m glad we’ve helped keep you occupied. Another fact check? Hope you’re facts are more factual this time.

      I don’t know anything about you, Peter, but here’s a few facts I do know about your opening paragraph. You never received the newsletter from us. Your e-mail addresses (you have listed a different one for each comment) are not in our database, as a subscriber or as unsubscribed. Nor has anyone with your addresses opened this newsletter. To subscribe, you literally have to click a box saying ‘sign me up for the newsletter’.

      Also in one of your e-mail addresses you misspell YOUR OWN LAST NAME as ‘Jacobson’. Is Peter Jacobsen a nom de plume, by any chance?

    • Roger Rosentreter Roger Rosentreter September 1, 2021

      Peter, I too know how to read financial statements and these are taken from the AIPP’s published accounts…

      Interesting to note that your comment “The financials actually result from a litany of appalling financial decisions made by previous boards of which Melissa Newman and Sarah McKenna both presided (amongst others). Melissa as president and Sarah as Treasurer. ”

      They were President and Treasurer in the 2019 financial year, which just happen show the best results the Institute had in the last 12 years!!!

      A reasonable person might consider your comment libelous…

      Here are the figures:

      Fin Yr Profit/Loss
      2009 $13,510
      2010 $27,772
      2011 (-$137,748)
      2012 (-$13,423)
      2013 (-$30,675)
      2014 $31,924
      2015 (-$30,675)
      2016 (-$10,853)
      2017 (-$82,697)
      2018 (-$196,934)
      2019 $215,416
      2020 (-$126,532)

    • Melissa Neumann Melissa Neumann September 3, 2021

      Wow. What have I ever done to offend you to openly make claim like that against me. Thankfully the facts speak for themselves. Wish I knew how to get in contact with you as I would very much like to have a conversation about where you get off making up crap about people and putting it on the internet. Perhaps you are the troll that I have been trying to find that has been actively attacking my good name in a number of places?? How dare you slander my good name Peter, if that is your real name!!

      • Keith Shipton Keith Shipton September 3, 2021

        Hi Melissa. I have taken ‘Peter Jacobsen/son’s comments down. I was OK with this person slagging off Inside Imaging, as I thought the batshit crazy, Colonel Blimp tone revealed more about the writer than it did our skills as journalists. But as Roger and you have pointed out, his second slag also attacked your good efforts and reputation. (I have kept a copy if you ever track this Jacobsen/son character down.)

        • Melissa Neumann Melissa Neumann September 14, 2021

          Thank you Keith.

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