Pressure tactics are not uncommon in the Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand, and the treatment of Canterbury chairperson Paul Arthur is a prime example.
Current and former staff revealed that Chris Higgins and Heather Browning aren’t the easiest to work for, and if staff ‘go against the grain’ at MDA, they are then harassed into keeping their issues quiet.
It appears that discomfort is common in the workplace at MDA.
National Council are set to make a decision regarding the future of the association shortly, but sources say that not all members on National Council have been informed of this, and the decision will not be made public or have any input from paying members.
The treatment of Paul Arthur is a good example of some of the issues that are happening behind closed doors at the MDA.
Arthur, also disabled, has been the chairperson for the Canterbury branch of the association for some time now.
But the once staunch supporter of positive change for the MDA has swallowed his pride and become silent on a scandal that has the potential to see New Zealand’s neuromuscular advocacy organisation become a laughing stock in the disability sector.
Arthur publicly slammed MDA head Chris Higgins, admitting to personal problems with the CEO before questioning his leadership.
Arthur went on to say he was personally concerned about the state of the finances in the organisation.
Arthur was in regular contact with The Real Michael Pulman before fellow Canterbury branch members attempted to stop him making contact, at the request of National Council.
At the latest National Council meeting, Warren Hall and Derek Woodward, two council members, laughed out loud when claims of their bullying Arthur were read out. This came days after Hall had verbally attacked Arthur in Christchurch, insisting that Arthur ceased all contact with The Real Michael Pulman.
Arthur hasn’t been heard from since.
In a recent column, Heather Browning claimed that the association is the leading advocate for people with neuromuscular conditions in New Zealand, but there a plenty of disability organizations around the country who can claim to this also.
The branches have done a good job at trying to advocate for members, but it appears that Browning is happy to take the credit for this on behalf of the association. It has been branch funds that have paid for member events like camps, Christmas parties, and regular gatherings for members and their families.
The association hasn’t paid for any of these events, it has been out of the pocket of the branches.