Farewell from the Outgoing President

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Fifteenth of July was a day and a half. So many things were happening. I was running round like a scalded cat - you know, that kind of week, that kind of day. We all have them. In fact this week has been pretty much the same.

On that Tuesday night I was at my last formal meeting as prez. I was touched by the kind thoughts of my committee, who presented me with a brain, since mine was clearly missing in action. (I have the new one here in a box if anyone would like to see it: a 3D brain laser-etched in glass.)

That was a good night, but there was somewhere else I could have been. My great hero, Pip Smibert, died last October. You won't have heard of him, but at his memorial service 200 people, most of whom had never met one another, turned up to claim Pip as their life's greatest inspiration. A crew of crazy marathon cyclists saw him as their Pack Leader, and the room was full of thespians, pianists, computer geeks, lawyers. Pip was fun, and fearless. He stood up for what is right, forever 'speaking truth to power'. He had his own troubles, but he put in, and he was a Great Big Thorn in the side of many powerful little people. By little people I mean small-minded, mean, self-serving people of the kind we seem to be attracting to political leadership positions in this country. (Thank goodness the presidency of Editors Victoria is not a position of power.) Pip, by contrast, gave to others in different ways over and over again.

Anyway, on Tuesday 15 July the Tait Performing Arts Association presented Caroline Almonte in recital celebrating the life of Pip Smibert in music and theatre. It was a joyous program of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and a rousing encore of songs from South Pacific. I saw the program later. Under a photo of Pip was a quote from Michelangelo:

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

In my two years in this job I've failed to achieve one important goal I'd set: establishing a home for us at the Wheeler Centre. (I tried.) And what we have achieved - and they are many - are not my achievements. They are things we have done together, as a committee. I will leave the details of each portfolio area to the committee member primarily responsible.

I just want to say that in Editors Victoria we have been blessed with people like Pip, who have girded their loins and stepped up to make a difference to this profession: the founders of Editors Victoria, the instigators of the Council of Societies of Editors (CASE) in turn, the founders of IPEd. (I was briefly involved, in I think 2005: it seems so long ago. There was hard work going on then, and it is still going on. It is largely invisible to the wider membership.) Janet Mackenzie, whom I thank for officiating again for us at this year's AGM, was a driving force. Rosemary Noble and Liz Steele saw the need for strategic planning; Liz has driven the wildly successful Redact residential weekend for mid-career editors. She led the subcommittee (Lan Wang, Tara Rawlins, Rosemary Noble, me) which met six times at Lan's place, developing a curriculum mapped to ASEP standards, drawing contracts, arranging venues. Rosemary Noble is still beavering away overseeing the IPEd transition and managing working parties. (Please volunteer for a working party or IPEd position when vacancies arise - it is interesting work, and involves liaison with interstate colleagues.)

Members and friends stepped up to help with a request that we contribute to a panel at Writers Victoria (thanks to Jo Tayler, Robyn Beaver, Andrew Kelly and Michelle Madden). I'll be giving a workshop on editing at WV in October. There have been other highlights and interactions with kindred organisations (for example, presenting prizes at the APA Awards, and talking about editors to a forum at the Victoria Law Foundation), and I've met and corresponded with all kinds of people on matters concerning EV, from a very persistent conference marketer wanting us to use the Exhibition Centre next time we host a conference to a helicopter mother wanting an internship for her child, who is 'so excited and keen and can imagine nothing better than a career of being paid to read books'.

More seriously, we have had some big decisions to make over the last two years, and as a committee we have been well aware that we are deciding things that will radically alter the profession's future. We have involved you, the members, at every step, pestering you to vote, answer questionnaires, come to dinners to debate issues, and generally make a noise about what you want, professionally speaking - for yourselves, and from us.

If I look back and try to summarise it all in a word or two, it has to be 'increased professionalism'. As joint presidents before me, Liz and Rosemary had the foresight to appoint an administrative assistant, Sabita Naheswaran. She was such an asset in that role, and continued to help me, and our committee, until she obtained a well-deserved new job in publishing. So we appointed Nicole Mathers earlier this year, and I was astonished by the way she stepped right into the role without batting an eyelid, mastering the procedures in about two seconds flat, and quickly working out that I needed a persistent cage-rattler to remind me of my various tasks.

Many years ago I attended an Editors Victoria AGM at which an embarrassed treasurer fled after confessing that he had no figures to present to the meeting. There is no way that could happen these days. Today I looked at the EV Dropbox. There are 33 main folders - accreditation, advertising, ASEP standards, and on and on - each with many subfolders. We cover a broad sweep of major task areas.

The AGM folder contains documents from 2008 to 2014. The earlier folders are sparsely populated - we lack minutes, records of office bearers, many of the things that should be there. I imagine they are in garages and under beds around the state. If you have anything, please scan it and send it to Charles.

So, 'AGM 2011' contains just a nomination form. But 2012 has financial reports, summaries, running sheets, signed minutes, nomination forms: it is professionally kept. Likewise 2013 and 2014. There is now a good record of what we do - which is just as well, since we have a new Associations Act to comply with. I consider this a major achievement. But again, it is not my achievement. In this case it is largely due to Charles Houen, whom I won't thank here, as I want to thank him later, and to Nicole, who has been willing, diligent and able - a rare combination.

Your committee members for the last two years have given me, and you, a great deal of their time, attention and service, and I would now like to thank them all as a group, and farewell the ones who are stepping down.

Two committee members stepped down earlier in my term. I gratefully acknowledge their work and contributions. They are Kristie Burt, who ran the increasingly onerous membership portfolio with great efficiency, and Cass Ball, who assisted in numerous ways across a spread of portfolio areas.

Thanks to the committee members who have served with me. Some are continuing:

Charles Houen, our chief cook and bottle-washer.

Ann Philpott, who has again managed our training program and sustained what has been a substantial contribution to the standards of the industry.

Davina Dadley-Moore, who has established the new mentorship program, at great cost of personal time.

Kate Goldsworthy and Lorna Hendry, who have brought a breath of fresh air and great copy to our newsletter. Lorna has now become our chief Tweeter, social media generator and stationery designer.

Andi Jones, who has a new baby but still managed to take up the accreditation portfolio and see us through the 2014 IPEd exam.

Maryna Mews, who has organised venues and done a little bit of everything across several portfolios: helping others in training and membership roles, taking on the job of finding and booking meeting rooms for us, and organising catering.

Others are stepping down:

Fran Madigan, who has managed freelance affairs for several years, and seen the Register expand enormously, then go electronic. Fran has taken on massive amounts of unpaid work, performed in the background and largely unseen.

Petra Poupa, who has really stepped into the events role enthusiastically, finding the fantastic speakers we have enjoyed this year, and keeping the dinner menu tasty yet affordable.

I sincerely thank each of you. You have made it a pleasure to be on the committee with you.

At the end of my report to the AGM, I presented an award that was unanimously endorsed by the committee and the past presidents who have worked with Charles. The citation is inscribed permanently on a hunk of VERY HEAVY lead crystal: it will be handy for putting budgies down. The citation reads:

Charles Citation

Trischa Mann