Tony Shaw comes back to the future

Newly elected IHC Board Chair Tony Shaw returned to the boardroom last year after a break of nearly 15 years. He finds the organisation vastly different these days.

Tony, a Timaru lawyer, was IHC President for three years from 2002 to 2005, and before that he served for many years at local and national levels. He was reappointed to the Board in September and says he was initially reluctant.

But he says the complexity of IHC in 2020 offers fresh challenges. “The organisation is a far different beast to when I was President. It is much larger and more complex.”

Tony says part of that greater complexity lies in the advent of Accessible Properties – the social and disability housing arm of the IHC Group, which is now a significant property-owning company.

Tony also became Chair just as COVID-19 was hitting New Zealand. He has praised staff throughout the IHC Group for their innovation and commitment to minimising the risk of COVID-19 to themselves, their colleagues and the people we support.  

He acknowledges COVID-19 will challenge us long into the future and says it came just at a time when he was already concerned about funding levels for disability services. “The challenge is to convince the Government of the day to provide proper funding – even with the pressures of COVID-19.” 

His goal is to ensure the financial stability of the organisation in a climate that is seeing other disability providers struggling. “IHC began the year in a strong financial position. We have always had a strong balance sheet. I think IHC is as well placed as anybody to weather the storm, but it will be challenging.”

Equally important is for IHC to get its service provision right – “to align the services we provide with what people want. There’s a lot to do, but that is exciting”.

Tony was an IHC Board Member from 1998 to 2005 and became an IHC New Zealand Life Member in 2005 after he stepped down as President. He was elected IHC Board Chair in March and replaced Neil Taylor, who remains on the Board. Neil served as Chair from 2017 to 2019 and IHC is still fortunate to be able to draw on his experience of more than 40 years with the organisation. He was appointed an IHC Life Member in 1998.

Tony was invited to join the IHC South Canterbury Branch committee nearly 40 years ago. He was a young, single professional and the Branch President was keen to have a younger, independent voice on the committee. And Tony, who had recently arrived in town to work for the Timaru law firm Timpany Walton, was keen to get to know local people.

When he joined IHC, it was governed by a New Zealand Council made up of the 52 branch presidents. His local involvement soon moved up a notch to branch President then to national governance.

Tony was initially encouraged to join the IHC Board by Sir Roderick Deane. At the time the organisation was pushing for the closure of institutions.

“It was a leader in convincing the Government to close down the old institutions. I think IHC can take a whole lot of credit for that.” Tony is also proud of the work IHC has done around education and mainstreaming.

“IHC is seen as a leader in its sectors and that’s as important today as ever.”

Tony is a consultant and former partner at Timpany Walton and is a director of several private companies. He has broad experience in community and volunteer organisations. 

Photo caption: Newly elected IHC Board Chair Tony Shaw.

This story was published in Community Moves. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members.

Read the full issue of Community Moves online here.