Call for new direction at Seawinds

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FOUR of the five board members of the Seawinds Community Hub have resigned in what is being described as a “turbulent” period for the centre which opened in 2012.

This follows the lodging of a petition with Mornington Peninsula Shire Council signed by 78 volunteers, staff, and members of community groups unhappy with events leading up to the departure of former CEO Martin Cowling.

The petitioners said they were “concerned with the current board and the perceived discrepancies between what the board wants and what the volunteers, employees and community groups of the Seawinds Community Hub want for the operations of the hub”.

In the lead up to Mr Cowling’s departure they asked the council to “call on the board to resign and appoint external administrators until a new board can be appointed by the parents, leaders and members of Seawinds”.

Issues came to a head when the board refused to extend Mr Cowling’s term after his three-month contract expired.

“Things were not working out and the board did not see eye to eye with him on many issues,” said chairman Andrew Bayliss, the sole board member remaining. He joined the board in early 2015 and has been chairman for 12 months.

The hub, at Allambi Avenue, Capel Sound, is a not-for-profit centre working with often disadvantaged and unemployed people and providing such community services as maternal and child health advice, early learning, pre-school, community house activities, occasional childcare and community meeting spaces. A men’s shed is being built.

Seaview Ward councillors and council officers met at Seawinds on Wednesday 10 October to discuss the petition with the board. They learned that Mr Cowling had resigned – as had four board members.

Cr Antonella Celi said new interim manager Karen Vanderkaay was “working to provide some stability in a turbulent period” and recruit new members to the Seawinds board.

The council has offered to support the centre by sending out notices of a special board meeting, while acknowledging that the board was an independent company over which it had no jurisdiction.

Shire manager family services and community planning Louise Wilkins has been asked to report back to the council on the progress of appointing new Seawinds board members.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 30 October 2018

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