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HomeminewsNew Chair, Reviews Underway for Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation

New Chair, Reviews Underway for Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation

After several tumultuous months, Brien Holden Vision Institute and its Foundation are attempting to boost staff morale and reform the organisation under the leadership of CEO Yvette Waddell and new Foundation chairperson, Sandra Bailey.

The Institute and its Foundation have seen several changes since the unexpected death of founder Professor Brien Holden on 27 July 2015. Immediately following his death, Professor Kovin Naidoo was appointed CEO of both the Institute and its Foundation, however he resigned abruptly in July 2018.

The imperative before us now is to recognise that we all share the Foundation’s vision and we are all committed to preserving Brien’s legacy

At that time, the Institute announced “a shift in the focus of its work in order to address the future needs of the ophthalmic industry and the public health sector as a result of the increasing prevalence of myopia”.1

Yvette Waddell, who had been the Institute’s Chief Operating Officer since 2003 was appointed to the role of CEO of Brien Holden Vision Institute. Amanda Davis, who had been Chief Operating Officer at the Institute’s Foundation since 2006 took on the position as CEO of the Foundation.

At that time Ms Waddell told mivision, “having CEOs dedicated to each part of the business makes sense, because of their distinct but related roles.

“The Brien Holden Vision Institute works on translational research and serves the ophthalmic industry by creating advanced technologies for the industry. It partners with leading ophthalmic companies to create the next generation of products that meet the needs of the market. It is a social enterprise; it channels revenues from Intellectual Property back into research and development of the next big innovation. ”

She said the Foundation’s focus is “public health solutions for the deficit in eye care services in underserved communities.”

She said the new structure would allow each CEO to bring greater focus to the businesses while working to meet the shared vison of the organisations and the expanding needs of the market.”

Six months on, Ms Davis’s role as CEO of the Institute’s Foundation has been terminated with the Board concluding that for her to remain as CEO would have been untenable. Ms Waddell has been appointed CEO of the Foundation on top of her role as CEO of the Institute.

The decision to terminate Ms Davis’s role as CEO was met with dispute from Foundation staff who wrote an open letter described by the board as “containing many inaccuracies and unacceptable slurs”.

A statement from the Board explained that an investigation conducted by “a very highly regarded forensic accounting team” from global risk management firm Control Risks, had revealed maladministration within BHVIF.

“Over the past several months an investigation has been carried out by Control Risks that has revealed serious instances of maladministration within BHVIF. In the circumstances, the Board concluded that it was untenable for Amanda Davis to remain as CEO. The decision of the Board was unanimous. 

“Control Risks’ investigation is continuing and, in the circumstances, it is inappropriate for the Board to make any further comment at this time. 

“Further information will be shared with BHVIF employees in a timely and transparent manner.” 

The statement acknowledged that board member Ms Walsh had not attended the meeting but had nominated an alternative person to attend and that Dr Fiona Stapleton had inadvertently not been invited to attend the meeting, however this was an “undisputed oversight”.

Following the termination of Ms Davis, CEO Yvette Waddell said there were currently no changes planned to the operations and focus of Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation.

However, in a statement, newly appointed Foundation Chair, Sandra Bailey said a review of projects would be undertaken.

“In the coming weeks I will be leading a review of the Foundation’s many individual projects to see how they are tracking against the relevant aims and objectives, and to inform future planning. With the assistance of external accountants, financial viability will also be assessed.”

Ms Bailey, who has been associated with the Foundation for 20 years and a director on its board since 2014, said she and the Foundation’s Board were committed to cooperating fully with the external investigations underway, then implementing their findings and recommendations.

“Understandably, recent events, sudden and apparently inexplicable, have and continue to be distressing for staff, making this a very difficult time within the organisation. The imperative before us now is to recognise that we all share the Foundation’s vision and we are all committed to preserving Brien’s legacy. Needless to say, we must all work together to ensure its ongoing success. Please know that the senior executive team, led by Yvette Waddell as CEO, has my full support and confidence. I have worked with Yvette on many projects over the last 20 years, among them the Aboriginal Health College establishment. Yvette brings necessary and important experience and value to the Foundation required at this time and I look forward to working with her closely again,” said Ms Bailey.


In early 2018 it was announced that Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) was to merge with Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation. While the merger did not go ahead OGS continues to focus its efforts on fund raising to support the Foundation’s projects. Recently, David Galbally AM QC was appointed to the Board of OGS as an independent director, a move which Ms Waddell said would provide much needed expertise.

“Mr Galbally was appointed by the Federal Treasurer to the three person expert panel that reviewed the operations of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. This type of regulatory reform expertise is what we need right now.”


  1. visionmagazineonline.co.za/2018/08/14/prof-kovin-naidoosteps- down-july-2018/ 
  2. https://mivision.com.au/2018/08/brien-holdenrestructure- to-drive-sustainable-future/