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Frank discussions at housing company AGM

By Mark Beale

THE not-for-profit Whitsunday Housing Company came close to being shut down last year according to its chairman Jeff Boyle.

Mr Boyle made this statement as part of a frank address at the company’s AGM on Monday afternoon.

About 15 concerned community members attended the AGM to listen to reports from the last financial year and ask questions about the state of the company, its current and past structure and direction for the future.

The Whitsunday Housing Company provides affordable, safe and secure housing to those on low incomes or with particular needs.

Mr Boyle, who like the other board members Councillor Jan Clifford, Ron Davies and Tiffany Deakes, is a volunteer, said there was no doubt the company had been through a “challenging year and has had to make some very serious and difficult decisions”.

“However we believe that the changes made will not only make us stronger but improve our service to our community,” he said.

Mr Boyle admitted the company had been investigated by the Department of Housing, the Office of the Registrar and Work Cover, with investigations now finalised and “no problem found with the board whatsoever”.

He said the reason for the investigations stemmed from the company being upgraded to a Tier III provider, “which has led to more scrutiny of operations and a greater need for board involvement”.

“We have had no alternative but to re-structure the company and are now adhering to all requirements set down from the relevant government departments,” he said.

Mr Boyle re-iterated the new regulations were much more “onerous” than before and that if the current board had not adapted accordingly, “the company would be gone”.

“They had every intention of closing us down. It would have gone to Brisbane and it wouldn’t have been good for us,” he said.

Mr Boyle was also quick to point out that “everyone’s putting their hand up and criticising but no-one likes helping [and] that’s the problem”.

“We do it for the community, we do it for free – I get zero out of it, Jan gets zero out of it. People don’t want to be board members because they get nothing for it, but we need more board members,” he said.

Mr Boyle said the company was always interested to hear from anyone wanting to volunteer for the board, with up to eight positions available.

He said the company needed people with business skills and no conflicts of interest in terms of earning an income from it.

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