What is your involvement in the Central Highlands sport and recreation community?
I have lived and worked in Emerald for 35 years and consider myself a local. I raised two boys here who were involved in a myriad of sport and recreation clubs including cricket, dance, swimming, scouts, golf and tennis. I have also been involved in community groups such as family day care and disability services. I have formed close community ties with my involvement in these organisations, often on their committees and boards or in a volunteer capacity .My sons played their sports across the whole Central Highlands and Central Queensland region, with countless hours of travel which helped me become aware of sport and recreation facilities in the entire region. I have been involved with CH Cricket and Brothers Cricket for more than ten years now and find that I am often the first port of call when anyone new to the region has cricket enquiries and indeed when people from other clubs in CH have queries. I am always willing to help any club or association, no matter what sport or code, as best I can – particularly with advice on governance, grants and other admin issues.
How long have you been a Game Plan Advisory Committee member and what made you join?
I submitted my expression of interest to join GPAC back when the first community members were invited to apply. After submission of my application and due process I was appointed as one of three community members. I understand this was a ground-breaking action for council to take – to have community members totally involved in a committee and in the whole decision-making process. A common theme in most clubs I had been involved in and had helped was the real need for tenure of council owned lands to be formalised, as well as the relationship between council and clubs. The development of sporting facilities had to me always historically been quite ad-hoc and most clubs all had their own stories of how they had trouble communicating with council or getting things done etc. I had seen council try and get some tenures and user agreements in place over the years but for whatever reason this process was always started and never finished. For clubs, and no doubt council, this constant stalling was frustrating. I wanted to be part of a process that I hoped would finally push forward (and it wouldn’t be easy) with the goals in mind to fruition. I also can see the bigger picture and whilst I may be based in Emerald (and often rep-level sport is in Emerald), I am from a tiny community on the Sunshine Coast and at all times have been aware and mindful of the vagaries of distance and geographical location in our vast Central Highlands area. I thought that I had the ability to see the bigger picture, to represent all sport and recreation groups from all areas. I felt that I had a good mix of admin and governance skills to bring to the table, as well as the passion for sport and recreation in the Central Highlands.
What do you like about being a member and what could new members help improve?
I will admit that going into the GPAC process I had doubts as to whether the community members were just token appointments and that we would have very little effect on the process. I could not have been more wrong in that assumption. From the get-go the three of us were highly involved in GPAC, our opinions were openly sought every step of the way. It was not easy juggling full-time work and my many other commitments with GPAC but I feel the work to do this has been worth it thus far. We were meeting on a very regular basis with great attendance and dedication from all GPAC members. I particularly like that we could openly express our opinions and feel that the community members have been able to give the other members good insight into many aspects of running a club they may not have previously thought about or been aware of. Community engagement has been a focus of GPAC and we as community members have also been involved in this aspect. New members can come on board with a lot of the hard yards done and dusted. There is still much to do and to me, what is left is the exciting bit – getting clubs and associations tenure, guidelines as to their and council’s responsibilities and above all helping to keep GPAC and council on track to be able to deliver on GPAC promises. It would be great to see representation from different types of sports and from some of the smaller areas of the region.
What is the value of being a member for the sport/ recreation community in particular, but also for yourself?
Sport and recreation (whether organised or informal) has to be one of the most valuable assets in any community in so many ways, for community health and well-being, for life-long learning and skill acquisition, for inclusivity, for generating income into the region and just developing a sense of belonging and community partnerships. We hear the adage that sport and recreation is the lifeblood of small communities and that is true in our region for sure. We see such a diverse range of people, from all walks of life, involved in various pursuits – all passionate in their own way about what they do. There are community links that flow out of sport and rec that go above and beyond the sport itself. I often despair when I attend seminars, workshops etc when facilitators talk about the new non-volunteering age. Some tout statistics that within 20 years volunteers will be a thing of the past. If we can get the message across that volunteering is not a burden and is vital to the success of our sector, then we need to do that where we can. Everyone is time poor as I hear every day, but if we can show our children and others the benefits of volunteering which go beyond just helping them get on the park each week, then we are on the right track. I know my children spent many of their formative years helping at club events and fundraisers and having me absent at various meetings and I am satisfied I have done something right when they (in their teens) express an interest to join a committee or take on a volunteer role. One of the biggest values of sport and recreation involvement would have to be friendships formed – not only for the participants themselves (my boys made friends from across the region with their sports) but for the volunteers. Just this past week I saw a fellow parent who had been at one of my boys’ activities who I had not seen for five or more years and we were able to pick up our chats like we saw each other yesterday.
What qualities/ skills should anyone interested bring to the role?
Honestly, the best quality and skill anyone can bring is a can-do attitude, to not be afraid to speak your mind and an openness to new ideas. Confidentiality is vital and a given, but also an appreciation of council due processes would also be helpful. It would be nice to see someone with club governance background, but it would be just as useful to see a passionate coach or player come on board. Someone willing to see the bigger picture beyond their own sport or activity and beyond their own location on the Highlands.