LGBTI Health Alliance Directors Resign

From "Proud To Be A Second Class Australian" : Michael Barnett (Facebook)

From “Proud To Be A Second Class Australian” : Michael Barnett (Facebook)

Chaos reigns at the LGBTI Health Alliance, as three directors resign, with at least two more on the brink of departure this weekend, making a total of five resignations in two months.

The debacle over support for the Safe Schools Coalition is only the latest in a long line of gaffes and missteps.

In December NT Director Nfanwy Welsh resigned, allegedly over concerns at the poor governance and management of the organisation. Her departure was never publicised, and her details were still on the Alliance website at the time of writing. She did not respond to requests for comment.

Now her replacement Dr Phoenix Smith, has departed after only eight weeks, citing similar concerns. She is also remaining mum. But the stirrer can reveal that, despite numerous meeting with Chair Susan Ditter and Executive Director, and many requests, she never received formal orientation and induction as a director.

Eventually she felt she had no option to resign, as she remained in the dark about the Board’s processes, priorities and strategies, and the organisations budget and finances, eight weeks after her appointment, which made it impossible to discharge her duties as a director. At the time of writing she has not responded to my request for comment.

Queensland Director Russell Flynn also resigned overnight: Victorian Director Luke Gahan resigned this morning. Both were allegedly scathing in their criticisms, excoriating opaque management and poor governance, bewailing a lack of engagement with the community,and describing the organisation as dysfunctional.

Meanwhile controversy over the organisations stance on Safe Schools continues to rage on social media, with a petition calling for the sacking of Chair Susan Ditter and ED Rebecca Reynolds.

Follow the link to sign. It says

We the undersigned request that the National LGBTI Health Alliance be given back to the community it is supposed to represent. The Executive Director Rebecca Reynolds and Board Chair Susan Dittar do not enjoy the confidence of the LGBTI Community in respect of this very important organisation.

The ongoing problems with the leadership of the board is well documented. And today we had Executive Director Rebecca Reynolds undermine the Safe Schools program in Victoria by calling for it to be an optional requirement for schools.

It is time that the LGBTI Health Alliance was given back to the people it is supposed to represent.

Rebecca Reynolds and Susan Dittar should step down or be removed.

Support an independent and representative board for the National LGBTI Health Alliance – Sign this Petition

Kelly Glanney, Director at Carmen Rupe Memorial Trust, said

I am still gob smacked that so few of our communities leadership have spoken out about or even publicly acknowledged  this ongoing debacle, Doug … has anyone in the gay press even covered the fact that this countries largest LGBTI allied health peak body has been defunded by the Federal Government as yet?

.. this organisation has been acting like some kind of tyrannical LGBTI shadow government  … I would definitely like to know why the National LGBTI Health Alliance attempted… to derail the ANZPATH conference in 2014

.. this is an organisation which IMO has consistently failed to be accountable for it’s rampant culture of bullying, identity politics based political attrition and nepotism

Last night I put a number of questions to all Board members and the Chair, but I had no response from most: except one referred me to Reynolds, and one merely repeated the statement already issued. After which Director Anna Brown allegedly warned all directors not to reply.

My questions were as follows:

I’ll be posting the following questions along with your individual responses.

When were you first aware that the Alliance would not support Safe Schools as a mandatory program, but only on an opt in basis?

Did the chair and ED inform all directors in advance that this position was about to be made public?

Did you as a director vote for the policy that the Alliance would only support Safe Schools as a voluntary and not as a mandatory program?

Given that the schools most likely to need the program are those least likely to volunteer for it, how do you justify opposing the mandatory rollout of the Safe Schools program by the Victorian government?

What advance plans did you have in place to deal with the eminently foreseeable public reaction?

What steps will you now be taking to recover from the reputational damage this policy has inflicted on you in the community, as you have now aligned the Alliance with the Christian Lobby, Australian Family Forum, Family Values Australia, Tony Abbott etc., and done serious damage to the campaign to save Safe Schools?

How do you feel about having undermined the campaign of every other LGBTI organisation supporting the Safe Schools program, and possibly put more schoolchildren in danger for longer?

How will you feel if, as a result, it is cancelled, neutered, or rolled back because of what you have done?

Thanks for your time. Deadline for response is noon tomorrow.

Please bear in mind that lack of response is in itself a response, and will be reported in the article.

Meanwhile the faux-Christian group campaigning against Safe Schools were quick to exploit Reynolds gaffe, thus:


The result of the review into the Safe School program is expected today.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)