President’s Report 2009

Humans do not like change, which means it is often viewed with fear and suspicion. However, it is one of the president’s primary responsibilities to provide direction for the organisation, which inevitably involves change. When we take on a committee position, we are each responsible for making an effort to improve the organisation during our brief time in office. On becoming your president, I embarked on a mission to improve CAWA, knowing that I would meet with resistance and criticism along the way (fortunately I realised that I wasn’t entering a popularity contest), but it has still been very challenging to remain positive and keep persevering.

I did not take on the role of President to sit back and twiddle my thumbs. I took it on because I thought that I could make a positive difference and in doing so, hopefully change the perception held by a few, that CAWA committee meetings are tea drinking social events. Not only am I in my prime (or so I keep telling myself every time my fingers violently object to crimpers) but personally, I prefer coffee. And, as a committee, I believe we have made a difference.

The current committee will attest to the fact that any attempts to stray from the path of decision making and moving forward during meetings will prompt me to out get my whip and spurs. I mention this not to frighten away new committee members but so that potential nominees understand that the time they give is respected and valued.

At the committee meeting in May 2009, I presented my vision and goals to the team. Feedback was sought and with everyone on board we embarked upon an era of change.

My vision: That CAWA becomes an association that climbers not only want join but want to be actively involved in.

CAWA’s goals:

  1. By the 2011 AGM we will have enough volunteers to fill every committee position.
  2. By the 2010 AGM we will have increased membership numbers by at least 50%, ideally with a large number of younger members who will then continue to support the association and then become involved in its management.
  3. The next edition of the CAWA Guidebook to be on sale by June 2010.
  4. To launch a new CAWA website that is user friendly for both members and the committee by the end of June 2009.
  5. By August 2009 a regular (either two or three monthly) newsletter is to be produced so we stay in touch with members and keep them updated.

We are currently on track with all except the second one. In retrospect, expecting such a rapid increase in membership numbers was unrealistic because effecting any sort of change was going to take time. However, this is a learning process. The much anticipated updated and revised CAWA guidebook is expected to be available in June 2010.

One of our most significant achievements over the last year or two is improved relations with the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC). This is critical to meeting some of the main objectives of the association, which are to ‘promote and develop rock climbing’ and ‘protect and promote the interests of rock climbers’ in WA. Contrary to the view held by some climbers, DEC is not the enemy and has in fact been very helpful in facilitating access to Canning Dam Quarry. We are in the process of finalising the agreement.

Like any other relationship, it requires work. Canning Dam negotiations took place over an extended period of time but ultimately we achieved our goal of obtaining access and it is the perfect example of how the correct approach makes all the difference ─ CAWA, as an organisation, succeeded where individuals have previously failed. It also illustrates the importance of having a peak body to represent and further the interests of climbers.

During the year there have been a number of well-attended and very enjoyable climbing trips to such places as Willyabrup, Mt Frankland, Peak Charles and most recently, Albany. Our attempt to trick the weather gods and travel to Mt Frankland in March rather than September did not stop the rain. However, all was not lost and two new routes made an appearance. For the uninitiated, table bouldering provided a new and addictive activity (complete with sparklers for added difficulty) on New Years’ Eve at Albany.

Another of the year’s big achievements for us was launching the new CAWA website. It is definitely still a work in progress, with more functionality to be added as time goes on. We are planning to use the site to improve communication with members and encourage constructive feedback so that we can be sure we are giving you what you want. Well done to all who were involved in this project.

Acting on requests to consider the current relevance and restrictions of the Albany Adventure Climbing Zone, CAWA engaged with Albany locals and it was agreed that in its current state it was outdated and hampering the development of climbing in the area. At the November 2009 committee meeting, a motion was passed redefining the AACZ (see January 2010 newsletter and web forum for further details), which has already resulted in at least one fabulous new route being bolted at Peak Head over the Christmas break.

It is very important for me to thank everyone who has supported your committee and myself over the last year or so and made it possible for us to achieve so many things. Particular members of the committee have worked tirelessly and volunteered more than their fair share of time to help us get things done (much better than having to deal with me in nervous breakdown mode). In doing so, they have not only improved my mental health, but also demonstrated their understanding of the importance of following through on a commitment because without that, it is impossible to achieve anything.

Due to limitations my health has imposed on me, there have been extended periods when I have not been able to climb. But, it is my passion for the sport and concern about access issues that saw me first join the committee in 2007. I mention this because there are many of you out there who benefit from the work that CAWA does and have valuable skills that could assist the organisation and help us continue to improve in all areas. Whether you climb hard, occasionally or are a beginner, I encourage you to give some of your time to help develop and support the association that is beavering away to support you, by nominating for a committee position.

Happy climbing!

Dena Rao

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