RSPCA in need of a complete new start…

The Examiner, 27 Nov 2012; Rosemary Bolger

TASMANIA’S embattled branch of the RSPCA is fast becoming better known for political infighting than fighting cruelty to animals.

The charity has sacked its past two chief executive officers, and each sudden departure has involved ugly disputes with the board played out in the public arena.

Tomorrow the messy saga continues as Ben Sturges, dumped as chief executive officer earlier this month, enters into conciliation with the board. If that fails, as appears likely judging by each side’s public statements, the next stage is a Fair Work Australia hearing.

At the same time the organisation is struggling financially. Last year’s financial statements revealed that it has lost more than a million dollars.

The connection between the disputes and the alarming bottom line is not hard to make out.

Every allegation and counter- allegation is doing further damage to the charity’s brand, and that means fewer donations and drives away potential sponsors. Who wants to think their precious dollars are going towards legal fees instead of cat food? Which business would want to be associated with an organisation that appears to be cannibalising itself?

It’s no wonder that the national RSPCA body has refused to comment on Tasmania’s problems. Despite working behind the scenes and negotiating with the state branch to provide some assistance, RSPCA Australia is wise to stay silent and avoid tarnishing the broader RSPCA with the bad publicity.

The only person who seems unable to recognise the link is RSPCA’s Tasmanian president, Paul Swiatkowski.

Throughout the falling-out with Mr Sturges and accompanying public relations nightmare, he has repeatedly appealed to the public not to give up on it. He has doggedly resisted calls for his dismissal and defended the board’s conduct.

Dr Swiatkowski may think the board has done nothing wrong because it has not broken any of the rules of the charity’s constitution and believes it is followed correct procedures. That’s missing the point.

Something has gone seriously wrong when an organisation usually associated with cute and cuddly kittens and puppies is struggling for public support.

Last week Dr Swiatkowski told the media: “There’s nothing more important to the RSPCA than its core animal welfare business and its respected brand.”

If that’s true, he should walk away now and preferably take the remaining two board members with him.

A fresh start is needed. In fact, after years of problems between senior management and the board, change at the very top is overdue. It needs to find a way to settle the case with Mr Sturges as soon as possible and install a new leadership team.

The RSPCA is not alone in trying to deal with damaging internal problems creating a public relations disaster. In May, the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry was forced to make an embarrassing revision of its financial situation due to some accounting anomalies and undisclosed transactions.

A few months later, with five of the old board members gone and a new chief executive officer and new chairman in place, its rebuilding phase is well under way. As new chairman Andrew Heap said in August, a “new TCCI” had to be created with a new direction. “It’s not as if it could be patched up. We have to start again,” he said then.

It’s time the old RSPCA realised the same thing and let others get to work on creating a “new RSPCA” too.

Original here…



Filed under RSPCA Tasmania, Tasmania

4 responses to “RSPCA in need of a complete new start…

  1. christy

    I do believe that we do not need the RSPCA anymore they have become the “white” elephant in the room. They are expensive and archaic and guzzles up huge amounts of public funds that could be better used with small rescue groups that work most area’s that the RSPCA do not. There is no need for massive buildings and expensive overheads when small rescue are doing the bulk of rehoming and rescuing with a very small fraction of the money that is used (but mostly held) by the RSPCA. We need accountability of funding and what is being achieved by donated funds in comparison to the small groups with foster care systems.

    • You are absolutely spot-on in your comments, Christy. The RSPCA is widely known in WA as the best fundraiser, and pretty much the worst animal defender in the state. To put it succinctly, the RSPCA gets $500,000 from the state government in WA every year, and as far as I can ascertain, has no accountability attached to this generous gift. Meanwhile, other much smaller and self-funded (by donations and fundraisers) rescue groups are doing the work the RSPCA is mandated to do. A close friend witnessed a man beating a dog a couple of years ago. The RSPCA showed disinterest in the matter when she reported it, although she had traced the car numberplate and got a name and address for the perpetrator. All that transpired was that an RSPCA inspector told the perpetrator to take the dog to obedience classes! If it weren’t so tragic, it would be laughable.

      At about the same time a beautiful female Boxer was picked up by a Wanneroo ranger, sitting among a pile of leaves and other rubbish – with several strands of fencing wire wrapped around her muzzle. The wire had gone right down to the bone on each of her cheeks. The poor darling couldn’t walk. If I’d been the PR person I’d have used this as a model to show people what really goes on in animal rescue. However, the RSPCA did absolutely nothing, and the boxer was taken in by a rescue group who paid for the extensive vet treatment she needed and rehomed her.

      The hierarchy of the RSPCA still whinge and whine about having no money and very few inspectors because of their parlous circumstances. I’d be glad to be shown proof of this, because at the present time, I don’t believe a word of it.

      • Bobby Bree

        These organisations amount to nothing but social clubs and egotiscally defaulted persons of no ability to manage a rat let alone “all creatures great and small” for the elite. They completely forget thier destiny in all this, to care for animals.I totally agree with Christy they DO NOT need large exclusive buildings etc. etc. and dont try and take a leaf from thier counterpart in Victorian RSPCA . Cripes! At last count (according to their own AGM report) they had at least 18 executive officers for each “division “( each with an assistant) over 20 inspectors (always with an excuse “no rescourse or time to do a complaint and try getting through to register a complaint “press this button that button “wait on hold for over 20 minutes) a newly constructed cafe ,vehicles galore even 4 cleaners (with a vehicle?)…. awww one can go on . Have they forgotten the whole crux of RSPCA is there to protect and assist all animals and not there for the benifit to suit their ego’s.Already been 2/3 inquiries by government alwyas a whitewash!! So who bloody cares ?Us only thats who!

    • Bobby Bree

      What a ridiculous comment! “Not need the rspca anymore?”Instead of complaining and mumbling and venting your spleen why dont you put your hand up to volunteer to help rspca its easy just stick your arm up in the air!Maybe just maybe you might be able to help save the life of an animal instead o

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