Positive outlook for the MDA heading into 2016

It has been a year of change for the MDA, and as 2016 approaches, positive strives may be on the horizon thanks to a joint effort by National Council and staff.

In the latest In Touch magazine, National Council chairperson Heather Browning revealed that conversations about the aspirations that office staff have for the MDA had been held recently in Auckland.

Browning says that the National Council was left with a greater appreciation of the importance and complexity of working in the disability sector following the conversations.

A strategic plan has been set in motion for the next year.

“I am optimistic that 2016 will be a year of growth”, Browning said.

Former Canterbury chairperson Paul Arthur resigned from his role after a two-year reign, citing that he wanted to focus on his health, but The Real Michael Pulman understands that Arthur was left in a position where the decision was forced due to pressure from fellow branch member Warren Hall.

Acting Chief Executive Ronelle Baker has received positive feedback from Northern Branch chairperson Trevor Jenkin, but Baker herself is taking each day in her stride.

MDA’s National Council must be more transparent

National Council faces a tough task in providing clear transparency in their statement to staff and members regarding Chris Higgins’ resignation.

As of today, no official announcement has been made publicly to inform members of Chris Higgins resigning from his role of MDA Chief Executive.

Higgins resigned on Monday this week – according to sources.

One reason behind a delay in official communication from MDA’s National Council is due to lack of transparency and acknowledgement surrounding the circumstances that led to Higgins’ resignation.

National Council will find it difficult to present an official statement to members that will avoid potential repercussions about the state of the organisation and the ethics of council members who make day-to-day decisions about the running of the MDA.

The Real Michael Pulman contacted council chairperson Heather Browning earlier today to clarify if and when a statement would be made and is yet to receive a response.

It is likely that Chris Higgins and National Council are working together this week to pen a statement that prevents damages.

Clearly, Higgins opting to resign from the MDA is a result of the increasing questions about his leadership and the financial difficulties that the association is facing, and this is something that many are calling National Council to acknowledge in any statement that is released.

Ronelle Baker is set to become interim CEO of the MDA.

“No overspending” according to MDA in statement

Despite claiming so, the recently released statement by the MDA surrounding finances doesn’t bring fourth any clear evidence that overspending is not some of the factors involved in the $100,000 plus deficit.

In the statement, MDA cite increasing competition from other organisations for donations, and that the revenue from fund-raising was well below expectations.

Since spotlight when on National Office in April, some have speculated that the financial decision making of Chris Higgins as CEO of the MDA are a reason for the deficit.

Higgins is believed to be earning up to $150,000 annually in his role at the head of MDA, this includes benefits, and Higgins is left to make the day-to-day decisions regarding finances, and this is briefly overseen by National Council.

National Council appointed Higgins in the role, and Higgins said during an interview with The Real Michael Pulman that all decisions are made by National Council and not himself.

However, the statement released by National Office says that Chris Higgins is responsible for MDA’s finances.

The MDA provided no clear evidence that overspending was not a factor in posting its significant financial deficit. MDA also claim they have significant financial reserves for the next calendar year.