January 2020 — January 2021
IN NOVEMBER 2019, a new managing committee was voted in on a platform of revitalising the AWPC work and organisation for Australian wildlife:
President: Peter Hylands
Secretary, Administration Manager: Carmen Ryan
Treasurer: Maria Taylor
Committee Members: Chris Lehmann, Jan Heald (later resigned).
The committee’s work began in earnest in January 2020 with a challenging list of tasks to realise the goals of revitalising and raising the profile and professional resources of the AWPC on behalf of the membership’s desire to help wildlife.
These are the highlights to report for 2020 as AWPC restarted work for Australia’s wildlife in conjunction with many concerned citizens and community groups.
In March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in Australia and affected activities and meetings throughout the reporting year.
Partly in response to the restrictions imposed by COVID, but also as part of the necessary modernisation of resources and tools as a national organisation, a focus in 2020 was the use of digital communications. Committee members worked from home and this also saved the organisation a lot of money.
Committee meetings were conducted on Zoom, including the delayed 2020 AGM. Organised by Carmen as an AWPC pioneering effort, the AGM was held in January 2021. It became clear that COVID restrictions would not abate quickly to allow in-person national meetings.
The AWPC website was updated with professional assistance and now holds more news and enhanced educational content, taking over from the previous print newsletter. Web manager Sue Van Homrigh, working with the AWPC interim communications editor (Maria), designed the upgrade and posted information throughout the year.
The website with relevant ‘buttons’ on the right-hand side of the home page also has become the pathway for new membership applications and donations. In a difficult year this has been effective with minimal marketing and outreach. Experience showed marketing and outreach need to be stepped up.
Outreach and the financial resources of the organisation are the focus of a proposed business plan, which will be undertaken in 2021 hopefully with the guidance of a volunteer business mentor recruited through UTS business school MBA board volunteer program. The program offers the AWPC committee a business school graduate with some prior experience in not-for-profit board tasks. Practically these include fundraising, outreach to patrons and donors and crafting a business plan.
The plan is aimed at establishing fundraising goals and the means to achieve those goals linked to specific wildlife education/information campaigns designated by the committee. The mentor joins the committee for 12 months and gains further experience.
The Mailchimp bulk mailout system was used in 2020 by the web manager to alert the membership to issues and content; and to AWPC meetings.
In 2020, the AWPC president’s role has been fulfilled by Peter with numerous information and wildlife education engagements conducted in person — face-to-face or electronically — with public officials and politicians; and with media, and community members. The website reported to membership on a range of these initiatives. Peter’s president’s report unpacks some of this work and highlights the enduring and urgent issues posed by state government wildlife policies, particularly focused on Victoria.
Late in 2020, the AWPC was able to welcome the full-time voluntary commitment of Chris Lehmann as the organisation’s kangaroo campaigner. Chris worked effectively and tirelessly providing help, advice and information to community members and groups who approach the AWPC with issues related to public and private harming of kangaroos. He also liaises with kangaroo advocacy groups to leverage the effort. Chris has started outlining some strategic directions for this work in 2021. His report to the AGM covers these areas.
From the digital ‘front office’ Carmen was able to sympathetically counsel concerned community members and refer them to committee members or other organisations best able to help them.
To make the most of digital possibilities for communication and also experiment with some campaign targets, social media outreach was busy in 2020 with some young volunteer help. This entailed posting regularly on Facebook (FB) and Instagram and starting an AWPC YouTube channel. The pilot work was effective, judging by response on these platforms and underscores the necessity to continue this vital role in 2021. In the interim Chris is continuing social media outreach for kangaroos on FB.
Kangaroo memes (images and a simple message) were developed by Maria with web-manager and designer Sue. These were posted in rotation by the social media assistant, particularly during the ACT kangaroo shooting months and later prior to the ACT election. The focus was on positive and educational messages and frame-changes about this relentlessly persecuted wildlife species. Possibly the educational messaging helped elect an unprecedented six Greens to the ACT Assembly. (Sample meme pictured here.)
The AWPC committee also made submissions, on behalf of members, to government agencies during 2020 on issues including the (watered down) Code of Practice for shooting kangaroos and the federal review of the EPBC Act. These submission with extensive work and information have been archived on the AWPC website awpc.org.au. In the interest of transparent public information, the AWPC office also lodged Freedom of Information requests in 2020, particularly regarding the anti-wildlife activities of the Victorian government on public land. AWPC experienced a surprising level of non-cooperation to these requests.
Committee members Maria and Carmen spent many hours starting to organise and catalogue the AWPC library/archive, including publications reflecting decades of wildlife work since the organisation started in the 1970s. The archive provided unique historical material to researchers in 2020 as it has in previous years. The committee has found a dedicated volunteer to continue and finalise this work in 2021. The goal is to find the collection a permanent home both physically and digitally with access for the public, researchers and students.