We know that reading minutes is pretty boring, so we're trying something new in 2020 to keep the membership up to date with the work of the HEA Management Committee. Every month, we will provide you with a more readable account of the work of the Committee in this newsletter format. Of course, the minutes are still available to members on request.
In December, I met with a policy advisor to the NSW Education Minister, and the senior staff of the QLD HEU. These were both positive meetings, and I'm looking forward to following up on issues such as registration, part time school options and equitable access to home education for children in out-of-home-care.
We've had ongoing contact with the ACT Directorate, and look forward to working with them during the implementation of the new legislation. The Directorate have followed up on our request for Student travel concession cards, and these should soon be available for home educated students through Access Canberra
Even though the office was officially closed over the festive season, there was still plenty of work to be done. I have coordinated the HEA's fire assistance, receiving donations, sorting and delivering them to the fire affected families. We have provided $500 grants to 5 families now, from Clarence Valley, Manning Valley and the Blue Mountains, and another in progress from the South Coast. Together we have also provided household goods such as freezers, vacuum cleaners, bikes, linen, clothes, as well as homeschooling resources - stationary items and many many books to 5 families and two more in progress. The first edition of the Stepping Stones Magazine was published, and preparations were made for the NCAT hearing - more about that below.
As a not-for-profit association, the HEA is able to use its Charity DGR status to receive donations which are tax-deductible for the giver.
Please donate generously as we are distributing amounts of $500 to homeschooling families who have lost property and possessions in the recent fires throughout the country.
We have received many household items and books and supplies which have been distributed with more ready to give out - we currently are at capacity for household items but are still accepting donations of books and educational resources.
More financial donations are needed however, and when given through Chuffed they are tax-deductible.
A number of policies have been updated and approved for use, including Complaints Handling, Conflicts of Interest Disclosure, Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics. The Constitution Review committee is also being set up and this will commence shortly. Please keep an eye on updates about the Constitution in the near future. The HEA Committee Board Charter (Handbook) is now complete, and should assist in the smooth running of the HEA into the future. And as announced in Stepping Stones Summer Issue, the weekend of June 13 & 14 will be full, with our plans to hold a national conference and the AGM.
From the Secretary's Desk:
Ruth Easton Portfolios: Helpline & Registration Support
Renewals: 32 renewals
New memberships: 26
In early December, Karen, Tere, Aileen and I met with the Communications Officer of the Associations Forum to discuss the HEA communication needs. A report has since been forwarded to us from the Associations Forum in regards to this. On the same day I attended the meeting at the NSW Education Ministers Office with Karen.
The Helpline has re-opened after the Christmas break, with a flurry of calls. Registration Support are also up and running, assisting home educators with their registration needs. Creating and troubleshooting the edu emails keeps me busy, 18 edu email accounts were created for members over the holiday period and 40 in January.
I am very pleased to report that the invoices from the previous admin contractors were finally able to be paid, bringing the matter to a close.
Balances for end of December 2019:
HEA Cheque Bill Acct $6 622.68
HEA PayPal $1 550.52
HEA Savings Acct $70 762.97
Total Bank $78 936.17
Less Liabilities (bushfire appeal $1 572.02) = $77 364.15
The NCAT ruling regarding the consumer guarantee matter HEA vs Icon Innovations was handed down recently, and our application was unfortunately dismissed citing that we did not provide enough evidence to prove that there was a contract beyond the bullet-point initial quote. Despite NCAT's decision that there was not enough proof from 2016, the HEA knows that there was a developed contract with ICON, with a plan to have a better website than our current one. The HEA paid around $25k for a top shelf website and branding package, and we did not get that. In fact, ICON still has the packages in its possession, keeping control of the passwords and products. While we are obviously disappointed with the outcome, we are pleased that the matter is finalised. Importantly, Icon cannot continue to invoice the HEA as they have done over the last months - which was part of our motive for going to NCAT - to stop that.
Again, the HEA does not have the website that Icon was contracted to produce in 2016. The website ICON presented has significantly less features than our current website, and no avenue was provided to test the small amount of features that are there. That leaves us with the older website that has been functioning since about 2013.
We will continue to use our current logo. Despite the HEA paying thousands of dollars for a logo, the one presented by ICON used a stock image, and the colours and fonts in the logo do not match those chosen by the 2017 HEA Committee. The logo does not retain a single element of the current logo, making it unsuitable. The HEA committee believes that the membership should be consulted before a major change is made, so we will do that if the case arises in the future.
Members wanting more information can email their questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or read the more detailed report which will be attached to the February 4th minutes after they are approved in a couple of weeks. The HEA Committee will not be discussing these matters on Facebook, or any other public forum, and we encourage members to realise and remember that many untrue and unsubstantiated public statements have been made about the HEA and individual committee members. In particular, we want members to know that the HEA is not trading insolvent, and has not spent thousands of dollars on legal bills. We want to take this opportunity to thank Northfields Lawyers, who have generously donated their services to us by working pro bono while we tried to resolve this situation.
From Lynda's desk:
Lynda Carlos Portfolio: Insurance
The volunteers/Work Experience Policy was renewed between Christmas and New Year. Unfortunately, we were unable to obtain the group public liability component we were hoping to add to the policy, but can purchase this for individual members if they are required by a workplace to have it (expensive).
The HEA event organisers public liability insurance remains in place for home educators who volunteer to create meet-up groups, excursions and other activities, including organised sports. Clarification with the insurance broker shows that certain higher risk sports activities like horse riding or surfing are not covered under our events policy. Some events may be covered under stringent conditions if an additional premium is paid for that event, but others (like horse riding) are unlikely to be covered at all. One of the stipulations for all sports events is that the volunteers running the activity must be sufficiently qualified to do so.
Managing the members insurance needs often means phone calls with the broker to clarify things, and emails back and forth with members. Recent events approved for insurance purposes include:
Riv Kids weekly Friday meet-up group
Weekly ice-skating for term 1.
Swimming Carnivals (x2).
Weekly sports group.
Recent work experience listings include:
5 days at a diesel mechanic in SA.
2 weeks at Country Heritage Feeds, QLD.
2 weeks of laboratory and museum work at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, Winton. QLD
1 week of veterinary work, NSW.
1 day per week from February to October with a building company, NSW.
The new school year is a very busy time for subscriptions. It is very exciting to be able to roll out Wingaru Kids! Mathletics, Stile and Spellodrome are all rolling over at the moment too.
A big thanks to all those who pay their invoices promptly, and are patient while we set things up.