Own­er­ship call

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

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.”

Picture: PAUL CAR­RACHER

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.

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