The May SLSNZ Board meeting was held by video conference on Friday 8th May – the ‘new normal’ in these Covid-19 times. While shorter than our traditional meetings we still managed to cover the key topics.
In terms of the SLSNZ financial position attached are the regular SLSNZ Financial Reports for the first nine months of 2019/20. These show a Net Operating Surplus of $2.229 million, which is $470,000 ahead of budget. This variance is largely due to timing, where income has been received earlier than budgeted or costs have been incurred later than budgeted. A full explanation of the variances is in the attached Financial Summary Dashboard.
As always, the profit at this time of year is not indicative or the year end result as in the last quarter of the year we have relatively little income and the surplus drops away. More relevant is the latest forecast which has the full year Net Operating Surplus behind budgeted levels at $642,242 (budget is $742,831). The $101k gap on the budget is being driven by grant revenue being lower than forecast. While the result still looks healthy, there is a significant grant funded capital programme this year (over $400,000) which uses up a lot of the Net Operating Surplus, so from a purely cash perspective things are still tight.
As well as the financials, the Board meeting covered a number of other important areas, which I will summarise below:
The Board reviewed the outputs from the annual Board Planning Workshop in February, which looked at the direction for the next three years and beyond. The Board was pleased with the ‘story’ that sets the context for the strategic direction as this adds good depth to the thinking already done in our ‘one page plan’. Some more work is required to convert the words into a simple and easy format that can be communicated to a wider audience and reflect the energy that came out of the workshop – and Management have now been given this task.
As you would expect, this was quite a focus of the meeting, with the Board looking ahead at what might happen in the 2020/21 season. Compared to many other organisations we were extremely lucky with the timing of the lockdown, having completed nearly all of our patrolling season and all but two sports events. But while the lockdown measures do seem to have worked in terms of reducing the spread of the disease in NZ, the consequences of the economic lockdown will impact everyone for a long time to come.
The Board looked at contingency budgets for various scenarios of revenue reduction for itself and clubs – with a particular focus on the impact of losing Class 4 gaming funding for a good part of 2020. Also discussed were the various support funds that might be available to assist – whether direct Government funding (see more on that below) or other packages from organisations like Sport NZ. Overall the Board was comfortable that SLSNZ could react in a timely manner to revenue impacts, if the scale of these was significant then like many other organisations, some hard calls would need to be made. Or paramount importance was making sure that clubs would be in a position to patrol in October – and keeping in regular touch with clubs over the coming months is a priority.
In terms of operations, the Board noted the work done by Management to provide clubs with guidance on what activities can (and can’t) take place at the various alert levels, and the support provided to callout squads to try and get them appropriate PPE at a time when there were some major supply challenges. This will need to continue, as getting clarity around the rules of each alert level is only getting more complicated. The Board is thankful for the support of its Medical Director, Dr Gary Payinda in this area and agencies such as St John and Sport NZ for their guidance.
At the time of the meeting, the Board did not know what the decision would be on this, so discussion was rather limited. Obviously we now know the great news – as per my letter to clubs on May 14th. But now the hard work begins, in terms of working with the Government on the detail of how the funding will be allocated, distributed and accounted for. As with any use of taxpayer funding, there will be strings attached and the devil will be in the detail. I apologise now for not having answers to many requests for information (and indeed money) in the short term while we work with the government to finalise arrangements. Given this funding is in perpetuity, we along with all of you have a responsibility and duty of care to future generations of lifeguards to work with the Government in a considered manner and apply appropriate due diligence to ensure our agreement with Government provides a robust and enduring platform for the organisation. It is important we get this right up front, and don’t build any expectations that can’t be delivered on. The funding is committed for the long term so we will need to take some time to get things sorted, of course recognising that in a Covid-19 world the needs of clubs in 2020 may be very different to what they will be when things return to normal. We will communicate more about all of this as soon as we can.
Health & Safety.
The serious injury report for the 2019/20 season YTD to date was noted. Excluding national sports events and SLSNZ employees, there have been 49 reports of members needing ‘major’ first aid in the 2019/20 season recorded in the PAM database, which is up 9% the same time last year. Of those 49, 34 required further treatment by a doctor and five needed admitting to hospital. These figures are similar to the level from last year. All the hospital admissions and 40% of the doctor treatments involved IRB’s. The Board noted that results of the scientific research by Auckland University of Technology on IRB injuries is due in June and look forward to seeing that. In terms of national and regional sports events there have been 30 incidents across the season where doctor or A&E treatment was required, down from 33 from the previous season, although last years figures included 4 injuries across SI and National IRB Champs which have not taken place this year due to Covid-19.
National Honours & Awards
A quick reminder to clubs here that the deadline for National Award nominations is the 30th June.
Ahead of the formal notice going out to clubs, the Board discussed the potential impact of Covid-19 on the event. At this stage, there seems a very good chance of being at Alert Level 1 by the 19th September so we will aim to go ahead as planned, but with the obvious caveat that if things change on the Covid-19 front an alternative plan may need to be put in place. If a change is required we will endeavour to let everyone know with as much notice as possible.
Women in Surf Lifesaving Project
Out President, Marilyn Moffatt updated the Board on the work being done by the Project Team. The response to the questionnaire sent out had been excellent, with over 1,000 responses in the first few days, so the Board is greatly looking forward to see the results of that.
And that is it for me for this time. I hope you and your families got through the lockdown in good shape and are ready to help kick start the economy!
Yours in surf,
Surf Life Saving New Zealand