Former Lyndoch Living board member breaks silence

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Former Lyndoch Living board member Percy Eccles resigned in March last year.

Carol Altmann – The Terrier

Former Lyndoch Living board member Percy Eccles has called for the entire board to “consider their positions” in the face of rising pressure for them to resign.

Mr Eccles, who served on the board for almost 10 years before his resignation last year, was speaking after CEO Doreen Power was stood down last Thursday.

He said he believed the board was “led by the CEO” and that they followed her direction, rather than the reverse.

“If the information I have been reading (about the CEO being stood down) is correct, then it’s a very good day for Lyndoch,” he said.

I call upon all of the board members to consider their positions, because it’s my belief that they were led by the CEO, rather than the CEO being led by the board.”

Mr Eccles said it was one of the greatest pleasures of his life when he served as a Lyndoch board member in the early years, but that this changed dramatically in recent years.

“As a board member for almost 10 years, it was one of the joys of my life to serve the people and the staff, especially when Lyndoch was under the leadership of former CEO Rhys Boyle,” he said.

“But in the few years prior to my resignation, I have never been more disappointed in the board’s direction,” Mr Eccles said.

Mr Eccles has been unable to speak publicly until now due to fears of legal action by the highly litigious CEO.

Following reports on The Terrier that the CEO has departed, however, Mr Eccles said he felt able to speak up.

While Mr Eccles could not comment on specific discussions within board meetings, it’s understood one of the many issues he pursued vigorously while on the board was a breakdown of how much was spent each year on lawyers and consultants.

A line-by-line breakdown was never provided.

[I have also attempted to obtain this breakdown, but the figures are exempt from Freedom of Information due to Lyndoch now being a quasi-private company.]

It’s widely known within Lyndoch, however, that a handful of highly paid consultants have been contracted multiple times for their services.

One of these includes a consultant who had an existing relationship with Lyndoch and was on the selection panel when the CEO was selected in 2014.

That particular consultant, who is not from Warrnambool, has since been employed multiple times and was a regular attendee at board meetings. It’s understood this consultant was paid $3000 a day.

It’s also known that, in recent years, Lyndoch changed its legal firm from a local based firm to a top law firm in Melbourne who, among other things, was paid by Lyndoch to launch personal defamation actions on behalf of the CEO and another corporate staff member.

Mr Eccles was also one of three board members on the selection panel when Ms Power was appointed in 2014.

Mr Eccles said he did not agree with the choice of Ms Power and made this known to the panel at the time.

When the other two board members decided Ms Power was the best applicant, however, he signed off on the appointment for the sake of cohesion.

Ms Power’s tenure has seen a dramatic decline in residential care at Lyndoch, largely due to a mass exodus of experienced staff, many of whom tried to speak up about the toxic culture that had developed.

The board did nothing in response to these concerns.

Lyndoch chair Sue Cassidy told media and staff Ms Power was on “annual leave” as of last Thursday. It’s still not clear exactly what prompted the board to suddenly stand Ms Power down.

Pressure is now mounting for the board to follow, with almost 2000 signatures in an online and offline petition that began before Ms Power’s departure.

5 thoughts on “Former Lyndoch Living board member breaks silence”

  1. I respect and thank Percy Eccles for his courage in speaking up and I certainly understand his fear from past experiences in dealing with Ms Power when I was Chair of Plenty Valley Community Health (PVCH). I see history repeating at Lyndoch Living, it’s not the first time, however in this frightful case the damage has been prolonged and action by the Board seriously lacking. Fortunately there has been tenacious reporting -which was courageous in the face of threats of litigation – providing some transparency by a local journalist which has documented the issues, decline and terrible harm being perpetrated at LL. This reporting incurred threats of litigation personally against The Terrier and it remains to be seen if this was financed by LL! Further, I believe Percy Eccles’ comments about the Boards’ relationship with the CEO, the comments ring very true, and if so, there is a breach of Directors’ Duty. They should resign.
    Ms Power’s time at PVCH was very short lived. PVCH Board consisted of experienced professionals united by courage and integrity with a sound understanding of Directors’ Duties and Corporate Law, and, expertise in Corporate Governance. To my certain knowledge, the true events at PVCH were omitted from her application and the reference checks submitted to LL by the search agent [edited]. This too needs to be investigated. Sadly, I understand from experience that there will likely be quite protracted and expensive proceedings ensuing and my thoughts are with the present and past staff and the residents and families of Lyndoch Living and the people of Warrnambool.

  2. I wonder who is going to be next to venture under the metaphoric bus as there is this statement below quoted from Lyndochs own website . I guess if it wasn’t so serious it could be comedy.

    Organisation Structure
    The Board, with their wealth of industry knowledge and management experience, are responsible for overseeing the governance of Lyndoch Living by ensuring that services are fully compliant with applicable legislation and in accordance with our mission and objectives.
    https://www.lyndoch.org.au/staff-board/

  3. This is exactly how the former Warrnambool Co-op folded. Successive CEOs leading the board and playing puppet master.. The co-op board, especially the last chair, not fulfilling their fiduciary duties.

  4. Will Carol Altmann stand up against Ageism and government indifference to the plight of the elderly and the disabled in Terang, not just Warrnambool?

    1. Hi John, Thanks for your comment. My work these past four years on Lyndoch Living has included May Noonan Hostel in Terang. While I have been a Warrnambool based journalist reporting on local issues, as an Independent candidate for South West Coast I will be looking at the much broader picture and will continue to fight for our most vulnerable citizens.

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