From The President’s Deck [49]

By Rob Mercer

The daily press and electronic media regale us with tales of impossible insurance ‘hikes’, huge liability payouts and random ‘crackdowns’ by various government agencies. So far we have fared well. Our insurance bills are surmountable and only major activities such as the Rock ‘n’ Roll weekend require application to Waterways, the NPWS and local councils. The core activity of the Club, the day or weekend paddle, remains of little interest to the authorities and the Club’s self regulation remains the same as it has for many years. There are Trip Leaders, waivers, a grading system (now copied by clubs around the country) and a strong tradition of self reliance. These arrangements continue to serve us well.

Sea kayaking is still a fledgling activity in Australia and our Club is in a prime position to take the initiative and deal with various authorities on our terms. State regulators tend to be most rigorous in times of crisis, real or imagined. For all its deficiencies, scuba diving has successfully self-regulated for a long time and risk management procedures that they have applied put them in a strong position to resist outside control and minimise insurance costs.

Australian Canoeing appear to be moving in the same direction. They have just launched a national competency based training scheme to replace the old awards. At the same time they have successfully established strong links with relevant statutory organisations including Waterways and NPWS. Whether we like it or not they are taking paddle sports including sea kayaking to the mainstream outdoor community. How we respond to the ‘self-appointed peak body’ in particular, and the growth of sea kayaking in general, is an issue for all to consider between now and the AGM.

To inspire some constructive debate the executive has been considering the idea of a midyear get together for some time. Last century there was a mini Rock ‘n’ Roll weekend called the Next Step. Given the size of recent Rock ‘n’ Roll weekends and the strong training focus of these events the executive have opted for a stand alone meeting to allow people to focus on the broader management issues. I hope to see you at the Bundeena Community Hall on Saturday 03 August 2002. Until then I offer the following for your consideration:

  1. Chatline — email has a unique potential for escalating misunderstandings. A recent chatline controversy lead to the closure of this service for several days and moderation of the line for a further week. The executive discovered ‘risk management’ doesn’t stop at the high water mark.
  2. Insurance — the Club insurance has just been renegotiated after many lengthy and time consuming discussions with the brokers (thanks Vicki and Andrew). The bottom line is that premiums have increased from around $2,000.00 for last year to $7,700.00 this year for over 200 members. In line with current standards for outdoor pursuits we have increased the public liability cover to $10 million (previously $5 million) and $2 million professional indemnity (previously $1 million). Fortunately good housekeeping by the executive over many years has allowed us to pay this insurance bill and still have money left to fund the magazine, website, etc. However, there is no surplus for projects such as publication of books and production of videos, this year.
  3. Fundraising — I believe that proceeds from fundraising such as raffles and sausage sizzles should be earmarked for special projects and development of skills. Insurance, magazine and website costs are basic services provided by the Club and membership fees need to cover them.
  4. Policies — Richard Birdsey has been working hard to revise the many good documents and procedures developed by previous executives into a coherent set of policies. In the last few weeks a sub-committee reviewed these. The drafts will be ready for comment by all interested parties prior to the 2002 AGM.
  5. Standards — Rest assured that the current committee has no plans to dilute Club standards. The Club has a long history of promoting safe, skilled paddling. In fact, the NSWSKC was the first sea kayak club in Australia to use the National Sea Proficiency Standard as a prerequisite for participation on open sea paddles. Despite the many obstacles that the new Australian Canoeing system has presented us, the committee are negotiating to ensure all future qualifications gained through the NSWSKC will be nationally recognised. Regardless of the outcome, our ultimate goal is to raise the standard.
Meeting at Bundeena
Who: All members
When: Saturday 03 August 2002
Where: Bundeena Community Hall
Time: Meeting will start at 4:00 pm sharp
Optional: 1:30 pm start for sessions on boat fit out (sails, pumps, seat, etc)
Note: Camping is available at nearby Bonnie Vale. NPWS entry permit required. Phone bookings can be made through the Royal National Park booking office on (02) 9542 0666.

Bundeena township has several cafes, a general store, clubs, and a service station. Access to the Bundeena township doesn’t require a NPWS permit.

For further information, check updates on the Club website at http://www.nswseakayaker.asn.au.

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