June - Club Victoria Inc.
ProfileRichard EvansExecutive Director,Clubs VictoriaMy first relationship with community clubs andgroups was from watching my father’s efforts helpingestablish the Williamstown RSL in the 1950’s andjoining the local clubs. In those days there weren’t many clubs aboutfor young boys, and I first started playing sport in the under 16’s at11. Later, I joined senior clubs as a player; and even later I served oncommittees and acted as patron to various community clubs whenI was a Federal Member of Parliament. I am currently a member ofthe Royals Yacht Club in Williamstown, Hawthorn FC, RACV Club,MCC and other groups; plus, I goal umpire in the Western RegionFootball League. I am a Board Member of Ballarat’s Her Majesty’sTheatre and have served on various Boards such as the Variety Club;Headwest, and Creativity Australia; and, as a Fellow of the Instituteof Company Directors, I offer pro bono advice to various Boards andorganisation on NFP business and financial models.Clubs play an important role in the community in providingopportunity for members, and indeed the broader community togain access to society. This is the hidden asset for many clubs, asmembership brings citizens together for a common cause; in otherwords, clubs build society and without them our community wouldbe a dull place. The great challenge for the future for all clubs is toprotect their brand whilst remaining relevant to their members andthe broader community; sometimes, clubs can forget why they werefirst established and this sometimes leads to loss of relevance, andapathy takes over, which could eventually lead to the loss of the club.My experience within various national and regional organisationsprovides reasonable insight into NFP organisations that aregoverned by passionate volunteers. Passion is not enough withina modern regulated Australia, and if we take the responsibility ofleadership, then individually we expose ourselves to regulatory risk;and, if we are not prepared, then individually we can be exposed tosanctions from regulatory authorities.Too many member based organisations forget to ensure they arefinancially stable to protect the monies and the interests of theirmembers. It surprises me that some member based organisationsspend member funds without any consideration as to the ethicsassociated with such spending. The recent largesse stories of someunions and the misuse of member monies is an example; this isalso evident in employer groups and, unfortunately, some clubs. Myexperience indicates some NFPs just don’t understand the principlesof member assets as opposed to the rights of elected Board membersor management. Every cent is the members and should be spentwith transparency and wisdom. Good governance and rigorouscompliance systems will ensure this is done.My sole focus in restructuring Clubs Victoria was to articulatethe strategy of the Council to regain the strong voice for alllicensed clubs. It was therefore incumbent upon a restructuredorganisation to focus on core pillars, which are advocacy,membership, education, networking and operations. We neededto do this and still operate in surplus, which we have now achieved.We needed to increase our Industrial Relations services. Wenow offer the Enable HR system providing greater security formembers in their FWA compliance; we have also cranked upour education offerings focusing on compliance, particularlyin employment relations; we offer thought leadership in ourcommunication strategy, and our magazine is an example ofspreading the word; we have been active in providing increasedservices that previously were not offered.It is reasonable to suggest we have stabilised our brand andgained increased acknowledgement for the different style ofadvocacy. Having served in the Federal Parliament, I understandthe ‘political system’ and what is required to get things done forthe benefit of the market. I was able to bring a different advocacystyle to government, and we have been successful in a number ofpublic campaigns; but, it is the many industry and governmentpolicy and regulatory discussion groups that we belong that trulyallows Clubs Victoria to have a protective voice for its members.I believe a number of things need to happen within the market.The market it too small to have three representative bodies andour initiative for unification is a ‘no brainer’; there is an urgentrequirement for OH&S education and we are rolling out productsto the market; Clubs Victoria needs to take a leading role insupporting clubs to train their elected volunteers in governanceand compliance education; I think the issue of end of licensearrangements needs to be urgently addressed by government tohelp gaming clubs with their capital funding and expansion costs;I also strongly believe we need to celebrate the positive aspectsclubs provide the community and Clubs Victoria is building thiscapacity to promote our network and deliver outcomes.There is much to do, but Clubs Victoria is solely focused onservice to members. We have done this for 97 years, and we shallcontinue to do so into the future. Personalities come and go, butthe Clubs Victoria brand will always stand true to its members andthe club sector.16 CLUBConnect May/June 2013