Post 7 by Concerned Psychologists: FOLLOW-UP TO POST 6 ON APS GOVERNANCE ISSUES THE STRUCTURE OF THE BOARD NOW
The new APS Board is comparatively small, especially for such a complex society with many sub-disciplines and a wide variety of types of professional work and work settings. There are between 11 and 13 Directors at any one time – six General Directors, and the President,
President-Elect (every second year) and Executive Director (appointed by the Board, not elected by members) and between 2 and 4 Additional Directors (of whom 2 must be “non-psychology”). Despite their title,
General Directors except for the Early Career Director, are elected by sub-electorates, not by the general membership. However, while all members may vote for the Early Career Director, only Early Career members may stand for this office.
(IN)EQUALITY OF MEMBER VOTING POWER AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Four key points we wish to make about how member voting power is unequal across the membership are:
• Five General Directors are elected by members of the three Divisions – Colleges, General Practice (DGP) and Psychological Research, Education and Training (DPRET). One Director position for the Division of Colleges is reserved for a representative of the College of Clinical
Psychologists – only members of the CCP can vote for candidates for this position, who must be members of this College. This appointee will be accountable electorally only to the CCP and not to the whole membership.
It is likely that his appointee would have sub-electorate interests at heart rather than those of the whole Society. The appointee can be re-elected, and serve multiple terms (up to 4 years), so there is some electoral accountability but limited to the College.
• The same is true also for the Division of Colleges (“Other Colleges”) position, and the three remaining “Divisions” positions (two for the DGP, and one for the DPRET) – electorally accountable but only to their
sub-electorates, and likely to put those groups’ interests before those of the Society as a whole, especially if they want re-election.
• The Board of Directors could if it so wished manipulates the voting rolls through its power to determine in which Division – if any – a member may be enrolled. The only constraint appears to be that voting for the DGP Director position is restricted to members who are not members of a College. (A further concern is that apparently there are no grounds or procedure for appeal, either against not being classified as one wishes, or not being allocated to a Division at all.)
• No provision is currently made for rejecting a President-Elect who proves unsuitable in that role and predictably for the President role – another weakness in accountability (of long standing, from the date of the introduction of this position some years ago) that should have been fixed in any Board restructure! Members should have the capacity to confirm (or not confirm) the President-Elect’s move into the President role. The new structure (like its predecessor) places too great an emphasis on Presidential succession, at the expense of accountability,
Presidential direct election, workload and performance appraisal.
HOW ARE THERE BETWEEN-MEMBER DIFFERENCES IN VOTING POWER?
The new structure’s voting involves different packages of multiple votes, and not equality of voting power for members as had always been the case in the APS. Now only CCP members can vote for their specified ‘general director’ position, guaranteeing at least one Clinical College member. Non-CCP members vote for a different ‘general director’ position. But here 8 Colleges (including the College of Clinical Neuropsychologists which logic would suggest be in the “Clinical College” sub-electorate) vie for one Director position, and none is guaranteed a Director position! Moreover, where CCP members are also
members of other Colleges they can vote also for that Board position – they have two bites at the Colleges Directors cherry. For example, Person X is a member of the Clinical and Clinical Neuro Colleges, so able to vote twice, once for the “clinical college” position, and once
for the “Other Colleges” position. This is no accident – the revised Constitution specifically allows members of the CCP to vote also in the elections for the “Other Colleges” Director if they are members of another College. (Many are! – probably enough to be able to win the non-CCP Director position if their votes are tightly managed.)
Members of the DGP (who cannot be members of a College) vote for two director positions, while members of the DPRET (the notional ‘home’ for academics) vote for only one director. (Is this the APS’s priority now?
– no wonder it is losing academic members!) It appears possible for a member to belong to both Divisions, or to only one, or to none. If they must be “practising” in order to join the DGP, it is not clear what criteria are to be used to distinguish between full-time, regular part-time, and “minor opportunistic” practice. E.g. is an academic
“practising” if registered by the Psychology Board of Australia and does some occasional consultancy work? Can this person belong to both DGP and DPRET, thus acquiring two votes? There do not seem to be provisions that explicitly say otherwise.
The new structure also disenfranchises those many (and growing number of) members who are not members of Colleges or Divisions. For example, retired members appear to be ineligible to belong to either Division
unless they have special arrangements with a university or other higher education institution. The requirement that they be registered to practise (by the external regulatory body PsyBA) would disqualify them from DGP even if their expertise could be very valuable for that Division’s members and, through them, for other APS members.
So, if the Person X described earlier is a member of either or both the Divisions, she or he has an additional vote or votes, apparently to a maximum of 5 votes in the electoral cycle. Yet Person Y who belongs to only one College (not Clinical) and is not a member of a Division has only one vote every 2 or 3 years for the Early Career Director, a vote every two years for the President-Elect, and a vote every 2 or 3 years for the Director (Other Colleges), a total of 3 votes! Person Z who does not belong to any College and is not practising and not an academic, has only two votes – every two years for Early Career Director, and (in the alternate year) for the President-Elect.
In short, the new structure does not provide equal voting power or electoral involvement for members or (to us) acceptable electoral accountability. In this it may, or may not, breach the letter of the corporations law but is a poor governance structure and certainly breaches the principles and spirit on which the APS was founded in 1966: open and accountable governance whereby all members are of equal standing, have equal voting powers, and are entitled to vote for every Board position including the President as part of its accountability processes.
PLEASE RAISE THESE CONCERNS AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY UNTIL CHANGE IS MADE.
IT IS YOUR APS!