Firmly worded letters from the AWL NSW: "Everyone STFU"

February 20, 2017

Back in September, the CEO of the Animal Welfare League NSW came out to the media and stood up - not for the right of pets to be protected - but to advocate that major charity pound providers being transparent with their outcome statistics would be somehow too difficult for them.

Dogs put down by councils too quickly, animal activists say - Daily Telegraph Sept 2016

Some councils destroy more than 80 per cent of dogs taken in by their pounds, according to figures obtained by The Sunday Telegraph that reveal the kill rates across the state.
Jacqui Rand, professor of companion animal health at Queensland University, said Victoria required council data to be published, and the transparency has resulted in ­reduced kill rates.

“In most cases (in NSW) you can’t find out how your municipality is performing with animal management, and that is a big issue,” she said.

The Animal Welfare League, however, warns that publishing euthanasia statistics could have unintended consequences.

I mean, poor them! The public might get the wrong idea if they could see exactly how much killing was going on. Stupid public.

(If the stupid public could just send money now - and butt the hell out - that would be great).

Interested to see just how resistant to transparency the organisation really was, at the time I sent them what would seem like a totally appropriate freedom of information request.

Hi Andrew,

I am hoping to obtain a breakdown for intakes and outcomes for your organisation, please?

(Unfortunately, the figures on your website aren't broken down into cats and dogs).

Thank you in advance for your help!

- - - - - - - - - -

Hi Shel

Thank you for your email. Whilst we appreciate your interest, it is our policy not to furnish our confidential statistics to third parties.

Best regards
Andrew Mason
Chief Executive Officer
Animal Welfare League NSW

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Confidential statistics? This is a 100% publicly-funded organisation, with one primary stated goal:

Animal Welfare League NSW is committed to achieving zero euthanasia of healthy and treatable cats and dog within the community.

In fact, so “committed” to this ideal are they, that they joined the Getting 2 Zero program and declared.

We are determined to pave the way forward in reducing the unnecessary euthanasia of cats and dogs simply because they are homeless.

But that obviously this "commitment" doesn’t extend to providing any meaningful data to the public about whether or not they're saving lives. The AWLNSW is “committed” just not to any actual commitments. Rightio #doublespeak

The story doesn’t end there, unfortunately.

Not only has the AWLNSW been dodging and diving giving out what should be freely and publicly accessible animal outcome data, for the last twelve months they have also been heavying their own organisation’s members to stop chatting and discussing policies of the organisation in public on social media.

Said the first of a series of official warnings:

“The airing of concerns on public forum risks affecting the morale of the organsation, the recruitment and retention of staff, volunteers and directors, the ability of the AWL to attract donations and bequests, and AWL’s reputation within the animal welfare sector and amongst other stakeholders including but not limited to the Department of Primary Industries and our ambassadors.
Given this, the Board requests that these publicly available websites be immediately taken down, or limited to member only (and in these circumstances, that members comments are moderated). If you fail to do this within 48 hours, the Board will have no option by to consider taking appropriate action against the members responsible for these websites…

So you - yes you lot - don’t talk about statistics. And don’t talk about operations. Got it? Because it makes us sad. And people get angry and won't give us money.

Again, let me reiterate - the AWL NSW is a publicly-funded organisation owned by the public, with stakeholders including members and the wider community. To suggest that the only thing that can and should be talked about is pictures of fluffy puppies over ‘donate now’ buttons is absurd. There should be an open dialogue about all facets of the operations of any publicly funded organisation... if they want the public to choose to keep funding them.

The members have rightfully pushed back. In December the AWL NSW sent another demand for the discussion pages to be closed, with the members involved in keeping the public dialogue happening, threatened with expulsion. Again the public discussions stayed put. And now, another four months on and still being pressured to close the public discussions on operations, they've gone public. You can see the group and full letters here.

Here's what I suggest

If you're a member, volunteer or financial supporter of the AWL NSW you SHOULD be a member of this group. Because the organsation has a history of wanting less information available to the public, not more, which is in anyone's language is a huge, massive, could-not-be-redder flag.

Those people working to bring more transparency to the organisation should be commended and embraced by the board and management of the AWL NSW. Because, and I'll say it again - the pet-loving public is paying their wages. You don't have a charity without the public, and the public will no longer be shut out of the organsations they support.

So do, go here and join. And hopefully rather than Management continue to rattle their sabres through firmly worded letters, and hide their animal outcomes which should be public, the board and management team will begin to do their jobs.

Or they can not. Really it's up to them as to whether they want the organisation to have any kind of future.

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