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Foundation For The Blind No Confidence Motion

MEDIACOM-RELEASE-ASSOC-OF-BLIND-CITIZENS

NO CONFIDENCE MOTION PASSED IN CHAIRMAN OF FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND

At its national conference in Wellington last weekend, the Association of Blind Citizens passed a vote of no confidence in the Chairman of the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind's Board of Trustees, Mr Gordon Sanderson. It is only the second time such a motion has been debated or passed in the Association's 54 year history.

The gathering of some 70 blind and vision impaired people from the Association's 15 branches across New Zealand, passed the resolution following a presentation from the Chairman. Members remained unconvinced that blind people had been properly consulted about a major restructuring of the Foundation for the Blind, and that the Chairman was providing adequate supervision and leadership.

The text of the resolution reads:

"That given the issues of conflict raised in the President's report relative to the Foundation, and given the matters alluded to in the Board Reports, and recognising that the Association has been in a similar situation two decades ago, conference calls for the resignation of the Chairman of the Board in favour of a board member who truly listens, who accounts to members respectfully, who supervises and monitors change, and who cultivates a culture of partnership and trust with users."

President of the Association of Blind Citizens, Jonathan Mosen, says after many attempts at talking, blind people have had enough of being walked over.

"Without blind people, there would be no Foundation for the Blind. Yet Mr Sanderson, as the head of the organisation, has, among other things:

* fostered a culture of lack of proper consultation with blind

and vision impaired people;

* failed to ensure that the Board is led in a manner that

encourages respect within the Board for consumers and

accountability to consumers;

* through the dereliction of his role as Chairman and his failure

to provide for adequate consultation, eroded the confidence of

the Foundation's valuable volunteer base;

* through poor leadership allowed trustees to make confusing and

alarming public comment that does not represent Board policy;

* presided over a Board that has made serious errors of process

including a potential conflict of interest situation to which

the Association had to object before action was taken; and

* failed to ensure that the Foundation's Chief Executive Officer

was properly inducted into the blind community, its culture,

and its expectations for genuine partnership in all decisions

affecting it."

Mr Mosen says the Association, which has been a consumer voice for blind people since 1945, wants to rebuild the partnership that the Foundation has destroyed, but that it has no confidence that the present Chairman has the desire or the ability to bring that about.

"The group that took this vote was a good mixture of the blind community, and in many cases were elected to attend this Conference by users of the Foundation's services from right across the country. For the sake of harmony within the blind community, and the possibility of the erosion of confidence in his leadership impacting on revenue, Mr Sanderson should do the honourable thing and resign at this Friday's Board meeting of the Foundation for the Blind," Mr Mosen said.

"If he does not, the Board must demonstrate its commitment to rebuilding a genuine partnership by removing Mr Sanderson from the chair. If it does not, we are determined to bring our case, complete with detailed evidence, to the Minister of Education, the responsible minister under the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind Act. We blind people have nowhere else we can go for most of these services, so naturally we have no choice but to demand to have someone as Chairman who will conduct themselves in an appropriate, inclusive, respectful manner. If we could simply vote the person concerned out of office, we would, but at present, the Foundation is controlled by an antiquated Act of Parliament that only allows blind people to directly elect two of the 14 member Board. We will be advocating hard for the governance instrument of the Foundation to change, but in the mean time, we ask for support from the rest of the Board, volunteers and the people of New Zealand in helping us to ensure that the Foundation for the Blind, the only provider of most blindness-related services, gets quality leadership," Mr Mosen concluded.

Mr Mosen will be attending Friday's meeting of the Foundation for the Blind's Board to convey the Conference's message to the Board directly.

ENDS....

PRESS RELEASE FROM ASSOCIATION OF BLIND CITIZENS OF NEW ZEALAND

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