Monday 28 October 2019

We are better than this

Let's start this post on a positive note :) The headline isn't a question or a call for action. It is a simple statement because a handful of climbers created the Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Network to form positive and enduring relationships with Traditional Owners of Gariwerd and Djurite. Among those climbers are Claire Evans, Mark Gould, Daniel Earl, Adam Demmert and Kieran Loughran who are all without a doubt great ambassadors for this initiative and the climbing community in general. 

The formation of the GWRN has already sparked positive reactions both from climbers and the Traditional Owner which hopefully is a good foundation for future relationships. You will find more about the GWRN on their facebook page so head over there, give them a like and be part of this journey of reconciliation. 

"Where there is light, there must be shadow."

Unfortunately not everything is nice and rosy this week in the news of climbing access. Let me get straight to the point: Last week the ACAV's president Mike Tomkins announced that he'll disregard the current climbing bans and therefore the Traditional Owner's wishes and go climbing in Special Protection Areas. On Sunday he decided to rub it into the face of Traditional Owners that he has done that[1].
The ACAV president is struggling with this
Personally I'll file that type of behaviour under intentional stupidity but if you want to use different words, be my guest. In any case it is important that we as a climbing community speak up if someone is doing the wrong thing and this is what I'm doing here. After all there are these two posters of CliffCare's Access Is No Accident campaign. However the topic just doesn't stop there.

Access Is No Accident

The VCC should not affiliate with the ACAV

In the upcoming adjourned part two of the VCC AGM the members will be asked whether they should affiliate with the ACAV. There are four options for affiliation so let me quickly run you through them and explain what they mean:
  1. No affiliation
    Both clubs stay separate and there is no formal affiliation. If they want to collaborate in certain areas, they can still do that.
  2. Supporting partner
    Open reciprocated support between the clubs but no flow of money.
  3. Affiliate club membership
    VCC pays $500 and members can buy a $10 discounted ACAV membership. VCC gets a vote at the ACAV's AGM (Yay! As if you couldn't buy that for $15 as well)
  4. Automatic dual membership
    VCC pays $10 for every new or renewing membership. Currently that'd be ~$5000 per year.
First of all option d might be a bit of an administrative nightmare because I wouldn't know how you handle the memberships of people who are already signed up with ACAV but that's not my problem. Now the real question isn't how to make this work but

"What's in it for the VCC?"

And this is where the whole thing falls down. The sales-pitch is that the VCC gets a certain amount of influence but the reality is that the players in the ACAV are doing whatever they want - see above. The ACAV obviously is happy to pocket the money and any legitimisation which comes with an old standing club like the VCC. I can't see how this could be beneficial for the Victorian Climbing Club. In fact I believe there are a two big disadvantages which outweigh any perceived benefit:
  • Financial Loss
    The money would just be gone and couldn't be used for CliffCare, Social Events or the Bouldering Walls. Would it be in good hands? I doubt it given the ACAV has been found in breach of gambling regulations by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) because they couldn't even set-up a simple club-raffle the right way[2]. How on earth should they be able to handle real litigation as they plan to do?
  • Damaged Relations
    So far the positive engagement of the ACAV and their committee members with the Traditional Owners has gone up like a lead balloon. Given that no climbing ban will be lifted against the will of the Traditional Owners, it would be foolish to affiliate with such an organisation. This would simply remove the VCC's option to have meaningful and respectful conversations in the future. And yes - there's already a potential backlash for the atrocious behaviour of the ACAV's president. 
Nope. I think this is a terrible idea and therefore as a VCC member you should vote No affiliation on question 6. Now to make this easy for you here's the proxy form you can use for that. If you don't have a proxy who's voting no, check with any committee member if they'll be there and proxy vote for you.
  1. Download this Proxy Vote Form
  2. Open it and fill it out with 
    1. Your details
    2. Your proxy's details
    3. Your vote
    4. Today's date
  3. Sign the form (You can sign the form without printing and scanning it within the Adobe Acrobat Software. You can also use this website:
  4. Email it to the VCC Secretary and CC your proxy
Personally I'd like to return to all those great crags in Gariwerd and know that this has been achieved by following a path of honesty, genuine listening and true reconciliation. I trust that the Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Network has taken the first steps on that very path and I will support them along the way. 

Thanks Claire, Mark, Earl, Adam, Kieran and whoever else is with you! 

Cheers 🍻

[1] I decided to not link to the post or upload screenshots of this infuriating behaviour but if you want to see them, feel free to drop me a line.

[2] CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post I stated that the ACAV is facing enforcement actions by the VCGLR. The ACAV's secretary has clarified that this is not the case and the matter has since been resolved.

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