Jai’s Journal: April 2020

2019 was a big year with many significant achievements. 2020 is already shaping to be even bigger as a result of the positive changes that have been made.

FIRES, FLOODS, DROUGHT AND COVID-19

As the year began, we had new and unplanned challenges to deal with. Fires, flood, drought and COVID-19 (Coronavirus) have impacted our ranges, events and enjoyment of our sport and hunting opportunities. I am pleased to say that with the combined dedication of members, volunteers, Branches, SSAA NSW Board and SSAA NSW  staff, the overall impact has been minimised in these extraordinary circumstances.

SIMPLIFYING PROCESSES

We continue to make significant process changes to save funds, which are then reinvested into ranges and services. Staffing costs have been reduced for a second year running and with the use of technology and a policy of reducing administrative burden on volunteers, processes have been streamlined and further savings been made. There is always more to do.

The implementation of our industry-leading Electronic Attendance System has seen more than 90 per cent of all attendances recorded electronically. This ensures that accurate information about attendance requirements can be provided to members in real time, freeing up staff time with data entry.

FINANCES

A key task for myself is to improve SSAA NSW nuances to ensure longevity of the Association.

When I commenced employment, the forecast for 2019 showed a significant financial deficit, similar to the previous year. However, with hard work and a great team, I can now report the final result saw a significant, positive turnaround.

STAFF CHANGES

We recently said farewell to our Accountant Kevin who, after many years of service, has retired. Kevin is sadly missed and our new Accountant has already commenced work and is doing a great job. We also said goodbye to our General Manager, Luke, who has travelled overseas with his family. Luke has been a transformational force for SSAA NSW and I have personally enjoyed working with someone of such high talent and passion. We wish Luke and Kevin all the very best.

A Planning and Projects Manager has been engaged ensuring strategic goals of SSAA NSW are not only met for now but also for the future. There is a need to protect existing ranges from the threat of differing regulations or urban encroachment. Additionally, the completion of existing projects, including Dubbo and Armidale, as well as meeting the growing demand of our sport across NSW (in particular
in the Greater Sydney region) will be key drivers for our future success.

MORE WOMEN IN OUR SPORT

I am proud that SSAA NSW and its Branches has led a campaign to introduce more women to the sport of shooting. 2019 has seen an increase of female SSAA members and we thank everyone involved. Now is the time to introduce your female family and friends to the great sport!

CONSERVATION AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT

SSAA NSW continues to be recognised as a key industry stakeholder in conservation and wildlife management. Our recent representations at the NSW Firearms Registry highlighted the significant importance of training and education for our members and the additional benefits that volunteers gain from their ability to prove they have a level of competency that is demonstrated through continual improvement.

The Department of Primary Industries Game Licensing Unit has also recognised the significant efforts of SSAA NSW in the establishment and running of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Supplementary Pest Control (SPC) trial. DPI is now seeking input for potential future projects. As a major stakeholder for licenced recreational hunters, we are keen to work with DPI in the development and establishment of programs that increase hunter opportunities.

The NPWS SPC program has recommenced and we are rolling out operations for our current qualified volunteers. A review of the selection and recruitment processes will see many more volunteers becoming involved. A call for expressions of interest to join the program will occur shortly.
We have also recently engaged with Local Land Services where SSAA NSW will be making representations to Riverina and Western district landowners in the promotion of programs, like Farmers Assist. These programs will see positive results for landowners and the community.

ADVOCACY

There are many moving parts within an organisation as large as SSAA NSW. We continue to advocate for all law abiding firearms owners and do not resolve away from this important role on your behalf. Equally as important is the day-to-day running of SSAA NSW and I thank our tremendous staff who help in the administration of our sport.

Lastly, I continue to provide monthly updates via email. If you are not receiving them, I would urge you to update your contact details with your email, so you can stay informed of news from within the organisation.

As always, see you at the range or out in the field!

Jai Rowell is the CEO of SSAA NSW and a former member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing Wollondilly for the Liberal Party from 2011 to 2018. In April 2014 Rowell was appointed as Minister for Mental Health and Assistant Minister for Health during the Cabinet reshuffle under Premier Mike Baird. Under Gladys Berejiklian as Premier, Rowell was appointed as Special Adviser to the Premier and the NSW Government on Science, Industry and Innovation, a first of its kind. Jai was the first Liberal Indigenous member of the NSW Legislative Assembly. Jai has been appointed by Western Sydney University as a Fellow of Law.