Entire Women's Refuge board quits

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:37 22/08/2014

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The Women's Refuge is refusing to say why its Nelson board has resigned.

The Nelson Women's Refuge board has been replaced by an interim governance board.

National Collective of Independent Women's Refuge communications adviser Sue Lytollis would not comment on who was on the interim board or why the board had resigned.

Lytollis confirmed that in the last week the governance board of the Nelson refuge had resigned. Within 48 hours, an interim governance board was established and an independent review team was sent to Nelson to ensure that the refuge "works through a period of transition".

Former board member Judi Billens said she was surprised to hear the whole board had resigned.

Billens had resigned earlier this year and said she thought the board had good potential. She was reluctant to reveal why she resigned, saying "the board just didn't seem to be going ahead with board business of the refuge".

She said the conflict was not between members of the board.

"I sit on a lot of boards, I don't have time for that kind of thing. That whole board, I felt, could have driven it further but it wasn't being driven, a lot of time was spent on a personality thing."

She was unaware of the reasons for the recent resignations.

She speculated it could be down to personality conflicts within the organisation. The board she sat on had had its "ups and downs" but overall she had felt the board was very strong.

She had seen a similar board-wide resignation in the past, and had been the only person left on a board before.

Women's Refuge chief executive Heather Henare said the services to women and children have not been impacted by the recent changes and all contracts were being delivered.

"I have complete confidence that the hard workers from this refuge are continuing to offer crisis and community services to women who seek its support, it is business as usual," she said.

The most recently published board members on the Nelson Women's Refuge Incorporated listing on the Charities Register were Trudie Brand, Michelle Duggan, Judith Billens, Miraka Norgate, Tiaria Wilkie and Kim Starnes.

Family law lawyer Anne Todd said she was "distressed" to hear the board has resigned.

Of the names listed, she said she could vouch for all of them and they were "very capable" women.

"I have immense confidence in those women listed, and have worked with them in different capacities."

The Women's Refuge is a not-for-profit charitable organisation for women and their children, to help prevent and stop family violence in New Zealand. It provides safe accommodation for women and children who need help.

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It is funded by the government and through fundraising, events, philanthropic trusts and bequests.

- The Nelson Mail

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