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Saturday 10 October 2015

Call for Body Positive board to resign

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News - 18th September 2015

The governing board of HIV+ people's peer support and advocacy organisation Body Positive has this evening been served with a petition calling for a vote of no confidence by a group of its members.

Over the past nine days just on fifty
Wellington- and Auckland-based members have signed the document which calls for a Special General Meeting to be held for the wider membership to consider a motion of no confidence in the current board, a move which could force the entire board to resign and elections for a replacement board to be held.

Under Body Positive's constitution twenty five member's signatures are sufficient to force the board to call a Special General Meeting within three weeks, a move which comes after a period of mounting unease amongst a significant proportion of the organisation's national membership.

According to members, almost all of whom are gay and bi men, spoken to by Daily News the unease appears to stem from the circumstances of the departure of the previous general manager, the sudden closure of the Wellington branch and accusations of decisions being made with insufficient reference to the membership.

"I have always been unhappy about the way [previous general manager] Bruce Kilmister's departure was handled," says BP member and petition signatory Charlie Peters, whose views seem typical of the signatories has spoken to. "And when I heard they were closing the Wellington branch because there wasn't enough money, I didn't think that was the truth. Even the treasurer's report at the recent AGM said: 'Body Positive remains solvent and is in good shape to consider next steps as an organisation.'"

Kilmister has this evening told he prefers not to comment on the matter.

A number of members who have spoken to off the record have expressed concerns that securing funding is no longer being done as effectively as in the past and that members are being kept in the dark on decision making. "The board is not consulting the members, not following up on promises of consultation and not providing us with information which it has said it would, particularly regarding the closure of the Wellington branch," says Peters.

"I believe that major decisions are being made in secret, and that the board's minds are already made up before any meetings with the membership." He believes there are personality clashes feeding some of the perceived problems.

A countering view expressed by a current board member to is that the organisation is going through a period of change and that change is always difficult.

As for what he hopes to achieve by being one of the signatories to the petition, Peters says he hopes that "whoever gets on a new board works for the members, not for themselves and not for the chair."

Asked if he believes some of the board members are out of touch with the wishes and needs of the membership, Peters replies: "Definitely."

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