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A Fresh Start for the Home Education Association

[edited: the FB group A Fresh Start is no longer operational. I have been informed that "everyone was removed from the group as the reason for the group, ie to find HEA members to nominate for the HEA Committee at the 2020 AGM, no longer existed. Apart from Stuart Chapman, who's nomination for the Committee was not accepted, there were no other members who nominated for the 2020 Committee."

By International Speaker
Mr Stuart Chapman,
B Eng; B A; Grad Dip Ed

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for watching this video.   There is no sugar coating it. The Home
Education Association has been dysfunctional for a number of years and has lost
credibility and the trust of many in the homeschooling movement.      

I am going to tell you things about the HEA that are not well known and which will
probably shock you.

I also want to say that despite all the troubles there is hope that the HEA will be an
outstanding organisation once again which will have the trust and support of all
members.   

My name is Stuart Chapman.  I have been involved in home education for over
25 years. I was born in NSW, lived on a Island near Brisbane, went to school in
Melbourne and I have also lived in Adelaide and Perth.

I have spoken at homeschooling conferences on five different continents being the
only Australian to be a board member of the Global Home Education Conference and
the only Australian member of the International Home Educators Leaders Group. 
Likewise, I am the only person who has provided accurate numbers on the growth of
home education in every Australian state and territory over the last eight years to
journalists, politicians and the homeschooling movement.  

I was also elected a committee member of the Home Education Association in May
last year.  

I want to see excellent services provided to the HEA membership and I want to
increase the membership numbers above and beyond the time when HEA was
recently in such turmoil that a whole committee resigned, the HEA was sued and
bank accounts and the website were frozen for a year.   

The renewal rate for members dropped below 10% during this period which means
that up to 90% of members either did not approve of the action of a handful of
members suing the HEA or did not feel it worth renewing membership having lost
confidence in the organisation.   There is no question that the reputation of the HEA was severely damaged during this time.

No members were offered a refund or a discount for the reduced services provided
while the HEA was in hiatus and they should have been.           

We need to restore the HEA to an organisation, which is transparent, not mired in
dispute and where members want to stay longer than one year.    

The following are nine policies, which I believe will restore HEA to good governance
and provide a basis for great service to the homeschooling community.   

Policies

  1. At least 3 committee meetings per year should be open where all members are
    invited to participate, and to speak.  The committee must be transparent given all
    the problems of the past. Members should be allowed to make statements or ask
    questions of the committee during these meetings.    That has not occurred in any
    committee meeting for the last two years.
  2. Suing of individual members and contractors of the HEA must stop.  

    It is not well known that a member of the current committee sued former HEA staff and former HEA committee members and then sued the association and that the majority of the current committee supported all these actions.

    Those who participated in these legal actions lost every single case against individual HEA members.  Not one of those sued had a case to answer and money was paid out in compensation.

    Even so, two HEA members were left considerably out of pocket, and none were
    paid adequate compensation for the significant disruption to their personal lives
    brought on by these unnecessary legal actions.

    Those former members deserve an apology, which they have never received fromthis current committee.

    These actions ended up costing the HEA and those who sued the members hundreds of thousands of dollars and if it were not for committee insurance the HEA would have become insolvent and bankrupt.  

    Have you been told that by the current committee? No. 

    Sadly this tendency to purse aggressive legal action did not end with the Supreme
    Court decision of last year. The current committee brought another legal action
    against an HEA contractor only a few months ago. This time the HEA committee
    brought a case before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal against the former website developer Peter Wennersten of Icon Innovations whose work was previously approved by the 2016 Committee.

    This case unsurprisingly was also dismissed. It was a crushing defeat for the HEA and the report by NCAT was highly critical of a number of members of the current committee who were mentioned by name. 

    Have you been told that in the HEA newsletter? No.  

    The report is now a public document and the membership should read the findings of the Tribunal.   You will not find a link to the document on the HEA website as the current committee do not want you to read it. However there is a link to the findings in the comment section below.    

    This practice of litigious action against HEA staff and contractors and members must cease.

    Not only is it a complete waste of time, money and resources, the members who
    were sued have told me personally that it was extremely distressing and many
    thousands of hours were spent fighting these actions.  

    No legal action by the HEA should occur without the prior approval of the
    membership at a general meeting. 
  3. Employees and contractors of the HEA should be paid according to their bone fide
    contracts and should be paid their superannuation as the per the ATO’s
    requirements.  

    Committee members who have previously supported suing these individuals should not be voting on financial matters regarding payment of these individuals.  This is a clear conflict of interest.
  4. At the HEA Special General meeting held on 22 June 2019, members were
    shocked and dismayed when they were told that they were not allowed to speak
    against the resolution.  

    The case for the resolution was provided by the current committee but nobody was allowed to present the against case and a serving committee member was not
    allowed to table a document opposing the resolution. This is an absolute travesty of meeting protocol and demonstrates a committee afraid to let the membership hear differing viewpoints. Remember one of the most important freedoms we have is to speak, if we lose that right, it’s a lot easier to lose our other freedoms as well. This goes against everything we as home educators stand for.

    If elected I will propose a policy which will allow members to speak for or against
    any motion and I will not prevent members having their say during a meeting.
  5. Committee members should not be spending thousands of dollars of members’
    money on accommodation and air travel. Doing so is not in line with the Objects of
    the Association or working with a voluntary spirit for the benefit of the membership.
  6. Members who lodge a formal complaint against the committee should have their
    complaints responded to in writing and not be given the run around. If requested,
    complaints, must be tabled and a copy provided in the committee minutes whilst
    respecting a member’s right for redaction of their names.   
  7. We all know bullying is not ok. It is especially not ok in a volunteer organisation
    such as the HEA.   An HEA committee should not bully another member of the
    committee by calling them insulting names, by refusing to hold meetings at times,
    which they cannot attend because they live in a different time zone, or by denying
    them access to committee documents.   They should also not expel a member from the committee without due process and without any warning.   

    Such behaviour constitutes institutionalised bullying will not be tolerated in the next HEA committee.   
  8. The committee should never hire or take advice from the lawyer who has
    previously advised aggrieved members to sue the association or individual members of the association. We should never use the services of the same lawyer who sued the HEA but unfortunately this is exactly what the current committee has been doing and it is not in the interests of the membership for this situation to continue.
      
    Furthermore, the committee must make available to the membership the terms of reference of any contract with any party especially for the provision of legal advice on behalf of the HEA and must not ignore members' request to view such documents.
      
    Finally,
  9. HEA committee members should be of good character and should not hide
    behind a veil of secrecy and obstruction.

I have other policies and these can be viewed at our Facebook group A Fresh Start for the HEA.  

We need more people to join the next HEA committee who will support these policies and who believe in transparency, self-reflection and who treat the membership with respect.   When the membership trusts the leadership group, the organisation will thrive.

If you believe that the HEA needs new leadership, then join us at our Facebook group 
A Fresh Start for the HEA or email us at freshstarthea@gmail.com

This project to elect a new committee is endorsed by:

  • Beverley Paine Founder The Educating Parent; HEA committee member 2008-2010, 2013,2017
  • Esther Lacoba President HEA 2005-2010
  • Tamara Kelly President HEA 2013-2016
  • Myfanway Dibben HEA Committee member 2017

NCAT findings https://geni.us/NCAT-HEA-Results

Thank you for watching this video and please share it within your local homeschooling community.

 

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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Home education is a legal alternative
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to suit the individual needs of their children.

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