Volunteers in charge of Horsham’s iconic annual Labor Day weekend fishing contest want the city’s municipal leaders to take greater ownership and leadership of the city’s major events.
The fishing competition organising committee is exploring all options to secure the future of the event and has identified greater municipal support as paramount.
Committee chair Adele Rohde said
experience had time and again revealed that apart from highly valued on-ground support, a Horsham Rural City Council approach to the community events was ‘lack-lustre’.
“We, like many other groups trying to generate, run and promote major events in the municipality, need the council to be a greater ally in helping make them successful,” she said.
“Often, some of the biggest hurdles we have to overcome are either generated by a council position or a gradual withdrawal of support.” A 2019 Wimmera Southern Mallee Socio Economic Value of Recreational and Environmental Water Report cites Horsham Fishing Competition as one of the major contributors to both day and overnight visitors to Wimmera River destinations.
Mrs Rohde said the committee had the impression the council struggled to fully understand what the fishing contest, in attracting anglers from across Victoria and interstate, meant historically, socially and economically for the municipality.
“It’s disappointing, considering how well documented the value of events such as the fishing contest are to the socio-economic health of the region,” she said.
“We need leadership and serious awareness that major events, whether it be the fishing contest or other attractions, are important drawcards for our region – drawcards that, instead of requiring band-aid solutions, demand a proactive approach to both enable and empower them to run without putting unnecessary stress on volunteers.
“Instead of taking a reactive approach and waiting for problems to emerge, our council should be more on the front foot.”
Mrs Rohde said the criticism excluded council on-ground infrastructure teams, which had been outstanding in providing help in everything from digging holes and mowing grass.
“The relationship we’ve had with that team shows how well a partnership can work when the commitment is there,” Mrs Rohde said.
“What we’re talking about is the administrative hoops and costs surrounding the event.
“The expectations required of volunteers involving notification and planning, the risk and emergencymanagement sophistication required, the grants and acquittal processes and even the dogged unwillingness of the council to waver certain costs while knowing full well the socio-economic value of the event for the city.
“In short, the council’s overall role as a leader in supporting and promoting the event has been lack-lustre to say the least.
“They make us work very hard to do something that, in all honesty, they should be taking a lead in.”
Mrs Rohde said the committee presented its challenges as constructive criticism during an audience with the council in May, with the hope of a greater and more productive alliance, but there hadn’t been any follow-up or solutions to date.
“This isn’t about spitting the dummy and dismantling relationships,” she said.
“It’s about pointing out pressing issues that need addressing and we plan to reach out to council chief executive Sunil Bhalla to discuss it further.
“We’ve been watching Lake Fyans Fishing competition evolve because Northern Grampians Shire Council has recognised the value of fishing events to the region and has taken leadership in partnership with Stawell Angling Club.
“We’re asking for the same.”
GLORIOUS: Grade-four student William Koch gets muddy at a Horsham Holy Trinity Lutheran College Colour Fun Run, a fundraiser for school equipment and amenities.