CEO update | November 2018
End of year events, such as Annual Meetings and festive cheer, provide a moment to pause and reflect on the year that has been and to articulate plans for the year to come. The Resolution Institute Annual General Meeting was no exception.
The Chair, Gary Ulman in his Report commented that although “we are living in times where change and disruption have become the norm”, there will always be disputes and the need for dispute resolvers. Gary quoted the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, the Honourable Wayne Martin AC as having recently said,
The rapid development and success of ADR belies any inference that it is some kind of lesser, or inferior, or less frequent system of dispute resolution. Its place as the primary means of dispute resolution is well established and it is inevitable that the role of ADR will be developed and expanded, particularly with developments in the area of IT to which I have referred.
With a continued community need for dispute resolvers, Gary emphasised how important it is that Resolution Institute optimises the services it provides for members and that it shows leadership in all aspects of dispute resolution. Gary was pleased to report that the business strategy set by the Board will achieve those outcomes, specifically highlighting recent and upcoming projects: increased contact with local member groups, Board committees being established, a review of the Constitution, a new model for local member groups in 2019, the initiative to engage members in industry growth groups, a media relations strategy, a member satisfaction survey and a website to be delivered in early 2019.
In reflecting on these recent successes, the Chair acknowledged those who have contributed to those successes. Gary noted former Board members, Mark Beech, Alysoun Boyle and Jeanette Kinahan, the Ambassadors, Annabel Shaw and Ian Govey AO and former patrons Sir Ian Barker and Sir Laurence Street, the latter of whom we are looking to honour further. Gary also drew particular attention to former Chair and the 2018 Immediate Past Chair, Margaret Halsmith and Board member, Carol Powell who have been honoured in the last year. Finally, Gary was generous in his thanks and acknowledgement of the contributions of Board members and staff to the current success of Resolution Institute.
The Report from Treasurer, Siddharth Soin, provided financial endorsement of Gary’s comments. Sid reported a profit of $46,585 for the 2017-18 financial year, which he noted was an outstanding result compared to the 2018 budgeted profit of $18,111, and the operating loss of $90,455 in 2017. This impressive result, Sid attributed to success of the restorative justice program in New Zealand, the overall cost savings in a range of areas, short term salary savings and a better than budgeted membership fee result. Sid commented that organisations like Resolution Institute need a financial surplus to roll out project initiatives and achieve long term goals. The Board had this year decided to invest some of the surplus with BT Financial Group to achieve financial growth. Sid also commented that the Board this year had made a very difficult decision to close the trust account as a review had shown that it represented a disproportionate expense and posed significant risks to maintain the trust account for a relatively small number of users (on average about 30 per year) and even a smaller number of regular users (3-5 per year). The Treasurer was pleased to report that the auditor, RP Campbell Associates Pty Limited, had issued an unqualified audit opinion for the financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2018 and that the audit management letter contained nothing material to bring to the Board or Management’s attention. Like the Chair, Sid reflected on past achievements and expressed optimism for projects already planned for 2019 and also acknowledged the valued contribution of staff noting in particular accountants Robert Grima (AUS) and Gerry Westhuis (NZ).
My report maintained the positive tone conveyed by both the Chair and the Treasurer. I noted that Resolution Institute’s mission of Leading excellence is the touchstone for assessing our decisions, projects and activities. We know that Resolution Institute, as the largest membership organisation across Australia and New Zealand, has a responsibility to lead in achieving excellence in dispute resolution and that this aligns with the interests of our members: people in our communities who are highly satisfied with dispute resolution services, leads to growth in the sector. Some of the most important ways in which we place “excellence” at the centre is through our accreditation and continuing professional development activities, in the training and assessment we provide, in our publication of Pulse and The Arbitrator and the Mediator, in the issues on which we speak up as a voice for members and in the recognition and awards we support. The success of these activities is bolstered by the energetic efforts of members through Chapter and Special Interest Group committee and also by the generous support from so many law firms and other organisations that provide venues for events and share their expertise with us particularly through our publications.
Like the Chair and the Treasurer, I expressed my thanks to the Board for its guidance, to staff for their diligence and support, noting particularly General Managers, Hayley Jarrick (AUS) and Catherine Cooper (NZ) for their initiatives and insights and the Chair and the Treasurer for their ready availability and wise counsel.
Each of these Reports along with information that provides a more complete picture of Resolution Institute achievements over the past year, will be available in the Annual Report which will shortly be released. I encourage you to take time to dip into the Report and to consider the different ways available to you to engage with your membership organisation, Resolution Institute.
22 November 2018