I’m writing to advise you all of my intentions to stand for re-election as VCC President. The past year has been a difficult one for Victorian climbing, where we have seen the biggest access challenges to climbing in our history. Access will remain a critical issue in the year ahead and the VCC stands to play an important role through working in partnership with the newly formed Australian Climbing Association Victoria (ACAV), as well as other organisations.
I am aware that there are concerns in the membership that ACAV may be seeking to gain control over the VCC at this election, which may lead to irrevocable changes to how the club is run and the priorities it will have. I share these concerns. The VCC and ACAV are separate organisations with separate purposes and values and should remain as such. The VCC is a climbing club intended to create opportunities for climbers to learn to climb, make friends, find mentorship and engage socially as a community and participate in the activity we love irrespective of skill level, profile or reputation.
CliffCare, the environmental arm of the VCC, was established as an environmental charity with a strong focus on education and the promotion of responsible stewardship of our crags. While CliffCare has played a role in access issues in the past, over the past year we have recognised that the scope of this challenge will require much greater coordination across the climbing community. That is why I have, and will continue, to represent the VCC in the formation of the Climbing Federation. It is also why, under my presidency, we have offered VCC members the opportunity to have their say in affiliating with the ACAV – highlighting the need for us to be separate but work together. To maintain our independence, and to protect the diverse interests and activities of the club, it is vital that the committee members of the two organisations remain exclusive but work together.
As president this past year, I have upheld the Club’s strong values of respectful collaboration to work with the climbing community, Land Managers and Traditional Owners seeking to address the challenging issues we are facing with access in Gariwerd / the Grampians in a respectful and appropriate way. Part of responsible stewardship is acknowledging the journey of reconciliation we need to commence with the Traditional Owners with regard to harm that has occurred to their Cultural Heritage – irrespective of that harm having largely been done without our awareness or intention. Access is not an entitlement, it is earned based on respectful and responsible conduct that protects the environment, cultural heritage and the safety of climbers and other park users. Under my presidency we have launched the Access is No Accident Campaign, re-launched the CliffCare website with input from the Taungurung Land & Waters Council regarding our Cultural Heritage section and secured funding and commenced work on the Upper Central Gully Track project at Djurite / Mount Arapiles.
As President of the VCC, I am committed to continuing to work with the Founding Council for a Climbing Federation which has the largest possible representation of our community and has been engaged directly by Parks Victoria to work together to address the access issues and carve a path forward, noting particularly that Parks Victoria are no longer engaging directly with the VCC on these matters. I have the skills, networks and commitment to ensure meaningful participation in this process with the best interests of the Club and the climbing community in mind and without compromising on the Club’s commitment to continue to lead trips, provide climbing education opportunities, manage the bouldering walls in greater Melbourne we are responsible for and organise social events that foster a sense of community for you, our members.
The VCC is your Club and with a likely leadership challenge, it is more important than ever that you make the time to turn up to the AGM to ensure your values are represented in the voting. In upholding the value that our members voices must be heard, matters most, we will be organising a video conferencing facility for the night at remote locations to cater for members who are unable to make it to Melbourne in person – details have been shared via email and you can find them on our website as well.
It is great to see such interest in the Club and such a push for participation and my hope is to have your continuing support and to potentially get some new representatives on the Committee as well to further strengthen the skills needed to deliver on your expectations.
I look forward to seeing you at the AGM