AHRI at a turning point

by 17 Oct 2006

By Craig Donaldson

Last Thursday, Human Resources magazine’s e-newsletter broke the news that Jo Mithen had left AHRI as chief executive to join a law firm in Melbourne. The same story also noted that AHRI will soon announce the new owner of its membership products and services arm. This will be a potential turning point for AHRI.

One of the common gripes many senior HR practitioners had with AHRI in the past was DeakinUniversity’s ownership of a member-based organisation. From where it was six years ago, AHRI has come along way. However, senior HR practitioners saw conflicts of interest in Deakin’s ownership, and the recent parting of ways between the Institute and University opened up a potential new chapter for AHRI. At the time of going to press, AHRI had not yet revealed the new owner of its membership products and services arm, though AHRI had not ruled out the possibility that its members were potential buyers.

Many senior HR practitioners left the Institute over the years as they felt it had become irrelevant. Maybe the Institute was a reflection of HR in general in that HR had failed to keep up with needs of modern businesses. The recent appointment of a national president with strong HR and operational experience is a very good step in the right direction.

AHRI’s latest moves to introduce a Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures have also met with resistance as a potential step in the wrong direction. As GriffithUniversity’s Janine Walker writes on page 10, the introduction of these will do nothing to stem the slow but marked withdrawal of senior HR executives from AHRI.

HR is a rapidly evolving profession. Senior HR practitioners at the coalface of business deal with a very complex and new set of challenges, compared to the issues faced by personnel officers decades ago. As HR professionals step up to these challenges and are taken seriously within their own businesses, so too does AHRI need to reflect this in its offerings, conduct and approach to doing business with its members. In doing so, AHRI may just well become a true member-based association that is taken seriously by HR professionals at all levels.

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