TAIHS Board does a Donald Trump by cancelling vote at general meeting
Coralie Cassidy. Image: supplied
Members of the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service (TAIHS) are shocked and deeply disturbed by the conduct of the TAIHS Chair, Michael Illin, who illegally cancelled an ORIC-sanctioned advertised general meeting on the evening of 9 June moments before a vote on a no-confidence motion in the Board was to be tabled.
“It was a total shock for everyone present to have Michael Illin cancel the meeting without warning and call security to clear the room,” former board member and renowned Aboriginal advocate Coralie Cassidy said.
“As soon as Illin and his board saw the voter count from the first resolution was not in the board’s favour, they did a Donald Trump and shut it down.
“Trump didn’t like the decision of American voters at the US 2020 Presidential elections and proceeded to use every dirty tactic he could to stay in office.”
Ms Cassidy said the seven board of directors totally hijacked the meeting by having a lawyer, who they introduced as representing the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), appear on a TV monitor from Brisbane arguing the merits or otherwise of the legality of voting and sacking a board at the general meeting.
“This lawyer was telling us we had to have 10% of membership of TAIHS to call the meeting and had to provide members with 21 days’ notice,” Ms Cassidy said.
“It was as if she thought us members weren’t aware of our federal regulatory body ORIC’s (Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations) policy and procedures.
“Members – who represent the interest of over 20,000 First Nations people in the Townsville area - shouted at her on the TV saying we had already done these things.
“I thought ‘how patronising for this lawyer to speak down to us like that’”.
The frequent and protracted interjections by the lawyer caused distress and many attending the meeting said it reminded them of the bad old mission days when it was assumed by the authorities of that era, that all blacks were dumb.
Ms Cassady said she was most concerned on witnessing foundation members from 1974, Dr Ernest Hoolihan (90) and Ms Eva Kennedy (late 80s) being monitored by security guards as they used their walkie and wheelchair respectively to exit the building.
“It was very distressing to see our respected Elders being treated in such a degrading and culturally insensitive manner,” she said.
“Has this board got no shame in treating our old people like that?”
Aunty Eva, who’s been to many TAIHS meeting over half a century of commitment to improving the health outcomes for her people, was appalled at the audacious manner in which the seven board members disregarded the wishes of the community.
“That was by far the worse meeting I’ve even attended,” Aunty Eva said.
Senior community members have contacted directors of QAIHC to complain about the abuse of their authorised lawyer in involving herself in what was a local election process.
“This lawyer’s name – Kerrin Anderson - wasn’t on the agenda, nor were members advised of her appearance,” Ms Cassady said.
“They said she was authorised by the chair of QAIHC, Matthew Cooke,” she continued.
“We were also told later that QAIHC CEO Cleveland Fagan was in Townsville to meet with TAIHS directors and was supposed to attend our general meeting … which he didn’t.
“TAIHS members will formally request a joint ORIC and NACCHO (National Aboriginal Community Control Health Organisation) investigate the roles Cooke and Fagan played in authorising Anderson to offer legal advice at the general meeting. If proven, then a call will be made for Anderson and Fagan to be sacked from QAIHC and Cooke removed from both boards of NACCHO and QAIHC on the grounds that he is unfit to hold such high positions in First Nations health with control over hundreds of millions of federal and state funding.
“This potentially is the highest form of corruption of a health service election in this country,” Ms Cassady said.
“We are members of an Aboriginal community-controlled health organization (ACCHO), and this appalling interference removes any semblance of community control from our ACCHO affiliation.”
At the request of frustrated members who were traumatised by events of last Thursday night, a meeting has been organised and locked in for next Wednesday 15 June at the same venue, the Oonoonba Community Centre, for 5:30 p.m.
The meeting is organised to finalise the agenda from that night and to vote on two resolutions specifically in the petition that called the general meeting: a vote of no-confidence in the board, and the election of seven new directors.
“This time the members have organised representation of a specialist industrial relations lawyer from a large local law firm to be present to advise members of their rights,” Ms Cassady said.
“Members have also organised for a neutral chair and will insist that the board members sit in the crowd – and not up in their chairs facing everyone – throughout proceedings.
“ORIC and NACCHO as well as local state and federal senior government officials will be invited to the meeting to observe proceedings.
“The board’s grubby power-hungry tactics won’t work a second time,” said Ms Cassady.
“They’ve disgraced themselves and forfeited the right to be our board.
“Now, we’re taking back our organisation.”
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