2016 has been a busy year for the ASTC and the Committee. We started by completing the change of name from TWIA to ASTC. That was a big achievement and completed the final action from the creation of the National Society.
I would like to recognise and thank the entire 2016 ASTC Committee. The Committee has been low on numbers for most of the year and some members have also been impacted by personal situations and others with high work commitments. That has resulted in an increase in effort by other members to take up the workload. In particular I want to recognise the efforts put in by Dave Gardiner who was able to step up and cover several roles, and always maintain momentum with other actions. Dave’s main role was as the Training Coordinator, but he took on several tasks including the role of webmaster, a major task in itself.
We were able to hold another successful Conference in Melbourne this year. I would like to thank the entire Committee for their efforts and recognise Janet Taylor for her outstanding work and dedication that she always puts in to organising the Conference.
We did develop a training plan which has previously been identified as a major recruitment benefit, at least in New South Wales. The main aim of this plan was to provide continual training rather than require a new plan to be developed every year. This plan should allow the next Committee to identify training opportunities and set up events as soon as possible.
We did attempt to hold several training sessions in New South Wales and Victoria. Unfortunately we were not able to run any of the face-to-face courses due to lack of minimum numbers, which are essential to make the training viable for the trainer and the Society. We did manage to hold one free webinar later in the year. We do have a survey page on the website, but unfortunately very few members have completed the form to provide feedback and identify training information. We need members to engage to direct the Committee in the right direction.
The training strategy has not really changed or maintained progress over the years. We are now competing against eLearning, internet based training, and many types of free offerings. The Society needs to identify what we can and cannot offer to be competitive and viable, and develop a new dynamic strategy to fill an identified void in the market.
In a similar development, Context, our newsletter or magazine has run into production support difficulties this year. Considering the workload needed to develop and maintain it we stepped back to realise that we need to review our overall communications strategy and utilise the benefits of modern technology. This needs to include modernising the website, reviewing our email strategy, and identifying the need and want for the current newsletter format. What other tools or options do we have access to, such as mobile applications? We also share a newsletter or journal with our New Zealand counterparts. We need to consider our role in that and I must ask why would we need two? Both struggle to get content and rely totally on a few key personnel. If they ever decide to take a break who will be able to fill the gaps?
A new communications strategy needs to be developed, and documented, by the new Committee. We cannot keep doing what has always been done if we want to remain relevant and provide a service to members, and attract new members. We need to consider the current limitations of our website to work with HTML email formats and allow reuse of content.
We have also set up a content management system to help meet regulatory compliance requirements and manage records. We need to keep records of decisions, expenditure, meeting records and financial information for at least five years. We are registered in Victoria under corporation legislation that requires compliance with a model set of rules and regulations. There have been individuals suggesting change to the structure. Compliance with the legislation prevents any change to structure or functionality of the Society and sets our basic requirements. Our Constitution had to be developed to align with these rules. Any changes to the Constitution must be reviewed by the regulators to make sure we still align with the intent of the model rules. This does cause some problems, especially with the voting set up for the AGM, but we have a suitable process that we believe aligns with the intent of those requirements.
We also need to comply with Privacy Act and Work Health and Safety Regulations. These are some areas that have been light on for some time and areas we must always meet, especially in security of member information and workplace discrimination and harassment laws. We cannot put the Society at risk due to the acts and nature of a few individuals.
We have now built a solid foundation to move the ASTC into a new era, or perhaps catch up a little. We do have a role to play as an industry representative but we can only do that by representing a large number of people in technical communication, as broad as that category, and that needs a significant increase in membership. The government will not recognise our role in the industry unless we represent a substantial number across Australia. To achieve this we need a strong Committee with full numbers to share the workload. I urge all members to consider getting more involved and engaging the Committee to provide clear direction and tell us what you want, and maybe how to get there. There will also be some of you who are able to offer a little more time and could join the Committee. The job includes attending an online meeting once each month and taking on some tasks between meetings. We also want to engage our membership at state-based levels as well, so we are keen to establish representatives in each state to help organise local functions – please consider helping out when the new 2017 committee asks.
I would also like to personally recognise and thank our Vice President, David Cross, for his support during this year. David and I have worked closely as a team during the year and share a passion for growing and improving the ASTC. Due to my professional workload and other personal commitments I am not able to nominate for the role of President. David Cross has nominated for that role and I will provide support to David if he is elected and if I am elected as the Vice President. We need a President who is professional and diplomatic, and who will not offend members or other people in performing their role. David Cross is a professional, is well respected in his community, and has valuable experience from his time in the Victorian ASTC and as a member of the Interim Committee for the TWIA. I encourage you to vote for David to continue to build on the work done during this year.
Thanks for the opportunity to represent you, our members, over the past 12 months.
ASTC President – 2016