Board Report: 16 December 2012

Dear Clubbies,

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with your families and that you are getting time to take a well-deserved break and have some fun on the beaches over summer.

Key points covered included:
  • Governance - Nicky Duggan attended her first meeting as co-opted independent Director and was welcomed onto the Board. This provided the opportunity to review the Board induction process, which Nicky will progress through over the coming month. A 12 month Board Work Plan was presented and adopted.
  • Finances - For the first five months of the financial year the organisation is on track with the revised budget (containing the required cost savings from our 'Future Proofing' exercise). There is a surplus at this time of the year ($1.1m on revenues of $4.4m), which is $200,000 ahead of budget but is only temporary as we are about to enter the three biggest cost months of the year as Regional Guard wages and club grants are paid out.
    The revised budget has a year end surplus of $80,000. However, year end cash flow is still a challenge due to needing to fund committed capital expenditure. This will need to be monitored over the coming months. Management were asked to complete cash flow forecasts for the 2013/14 year to assist understand the expected flows of cash into next year.
  • Regulations - Clubs have recently provided input to revised Regulations, which are being updated to reflect the structural changes that had happened since 2004 when the last update occurred. These were presented to the Board for approval. After some discussion, the Board had some concerns the aspects of the original operational Regulations are now potentially too prescriptive and duplicate what is already in the Patrol Operations Manuals. In their current form they dictate a code of best practice that clubs must follow to the letter.
    The Board decided to ask Management to review the operational (in particular Lifesaving) Regulations to see if they can be simplified, with the best practice aspects captured in the Patrol Operations Manual.
    The Board also asked Management to prepare a high level paper describing the hierarchy and relationship between the Constitution, Regulations, Polices and POM to ensure they are aligned and easy for staff and clubs to understand the function of each document.
  • Risk Management - the Board reviewed the current Risk Management Plan, which was initiated 12 months ago. Management was requested to refresh the document for the Board's February meeting, in order to reflect newly emerging risks and the progress made over the last year which has changed the risk profile of the organisation.
  • Foundation - a paper was presented updating the Board on outcomes of the meeting held by the Foundation sub-committee. The meeting covered items like investment mandate, disbursement criteria, and roles of trustees and ambassadors. Next steps are to fine tune the purpose of the Foundation and develop and test a Charter.
  • Lifesaving First Aid - the Board is taking a close interest in the performance of LFA. Management provided a breakdown of course pricing, costs and profitability and the latest budget expectations. The Board were comfortable that LFA would not require further cash flow investment during the current year on the scale or previous years but will continue to monitor progress against the growth assumptions projected for future years.
    Challenges for growth include up-skilling a larger number of instructors, equipment availability and other factors attributed to scaling up the business to become truly national. Further work is required to improve the dynamics of the business and get the all the basics right.
  • Club Development - a written report from Mark Weatherall (GM Club Development) was noted by the Board. Topics covered:
    • The on-going development is being done on the regional teams through the Regional Managers relating to systems, processes and staff development.
    • A summary of activities and plans for the few Clubs in stress and requiring more than business as usual support.
    • Progress being made by Regional Teams against the regional management plans agreed with the Regional Club Chairs. 
    • Feedback on the strategic priorities and other input provided by the latest round of Regional Club Chairs Committee meetings. These meetings are providing an important feedback loop for SLSNZ and assist guide the organisation. Feedback from these meetings is being used to shape the next budgeting and planning cycle for SLSNZ that has just begun.
    • The Board's Healthy Clubs subcommittee reported on their recent meeting aimed at establishing a terms of reference and overseeing the programme of work with clubs at a strategic level. Key actions are to review the Club Pulse Tool and to shape reporting requirements for the Board and clubs.
  • Club support agreement and funding - the NZLGB funding for 2012/13 was discussed, having now been communicated to Clubs. Whilst the formula has not changed from previous years and nor has the total amount of money available, due to the relative changes in lifesaving activity across the country some Clubs will get more funding than what they did in the past and others that get less. The first tranche of payments was made before Christmas.
  • Event Safety - the Board reviewed the work of the Event Safety Project Advisory Group and discussed the implementation programme for improvements to event safety. First up, high visibility vests will become mandatory for National Championship events for the rest of this season. Following this the documentation for event safety processes will be reviewed and published, which will link governance, management and operational functions of events we run. On-going work is planned in this area across a number of areas and working in liaison with SLS Australia.
  • Sports event review - with the appointment of the new National Sports Committee, the second stage of the national event review will now get underway to take a blue sky approach to identifying improvements to the way surf sport event calendars can be structured at a national, regional and local level. In addition, work will be done in the next few months on a format for Surf League for 2014, to find a lower cost way to deliver an inter-provisional competition.
  • Member development - 400m swim time - the Surf Lifeguard Award requiring a 9 minute 400m swim time currently does not meet the International Lifesaving Federation (ILS) criteria which is an 8 minute threshold. This has broad implications ranging from lifeguards wanting to use their SLSNZ qualification to gain work in other countries to liability considerations over our lifeguards having the best practice qualification to be actively patrolling.
    There has been active discussion at ILS about "equivalency" provisions as there are a number of other countries that also don't conform to ILS requirements including Australia. Standardisation of international standards is a challenging topic. Whilst we believe that our lifeguard training and qualifications are of a high standard, there is a growing need for SLSNZ to review its 9 minute 400m qualification benchmark.
    We all understand that importance of those members that currently qualify between 8 and 9 minutes for their 400m swim to achieve and maintain lifeguard qualifications. They play a vital role in our clubs and on the beaches. Further work is obviously required and we will work closely with SLS Australia to plan any changes.
  • Fundraising - we have recently completed two major fundraising initiatives where the proceeds (less any direct costs) go back to clubs: 
    • Jandal Day - despite reformatting this into a weeklong national appeal with increased media profile, initial results show that income is considerably down. Feedback suggests that the public are carrying a lot less "loose change" in their pockets. Even initiatives such as "text to donate" were marginal. Further review is required.
    • Coca Cola Christmas in the Park - the Christchurch event was run on a fantastic night with a large crowd ensuring fundraising efforts met targets. The Auckland event also had great weather (despite tornadoes earlier in the week) - and an excellent turnout from clubbies for the event delivering a high profile for Surf Life Saving. While the results here were an improvement on last year, income was down on expectations, with bucket shaking again proving to be an ineffective way to get people to part with their money. We will need to discuss with Coca Cola how to improve this as we plan for next year. 
  • ILS General Assembly - the Board noted Graeme Cullen's report from the Assembly held in Adelaide. Graeme was elected as Vice President of ILS Asia Pacific, as a Board member for ILS itself and a member of the Business Commission. These are prestigious appointments and reflect on the high standing that Graeme is held in internationally. Mark Weatherall was also elected to the Sports Commission. 
  • Future Board meetings - the Board expressed a desire to hold more meetings outside of Wellington and will hold its next full meeting in Christchurch to coincide with the Southern Region Championships in February and then in March hold a meeting in Northland to coincide with the IRB Nationals at Waipu Cove.
Next meeting:

Next meeting is scheduled on 22 January by teleconference.

Yours in surf

Michael Bassett-Foss
Surf Life Saving New Zealand