AGM Report from the President

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Past Presidents, Honorary Life Members, Members, Staff and Friends:

I’d like to open the 2017 AGM with a big welcome to our first AGM as a branch – and my last AGM as president.

In my three years in this job, we’ve succeeded in achieving several important goals – on both a local and national level.

We’ve established a presence, if not a dedicated space, at the Wheeler Centre, holding meetings there and collaborating with Writers Victoria, Melbourne Writers Festival and other organisations who make up the writing community of Melbourne, the world’s second City of Literature.

We’ve transitioned to a national body, with our role in this transition evolving from poring over virtual reams of white papers that became green papers, to firing up members to participate in the discussion and vote, to playing devil’s advocate concerning Council decisions, to handing over our resources, systems, processes and people to help.

This has been the most arduous part of the three years – it didn’t end with transition on 1 July, last year. As IPEd was plagued with human resources problems, including an overseas CEO, and the general chaos of starting up a staffed organisation, we adapted roles that should have been taken over at national level so we could continue member services without interruption. I’m talking about communications, the freelance register, member services and finance – over the next year you will see these continue to settle down at the national level, and thus reduce the load on our dedicated volunteers.

I feel confident that IPEd is at last on its feet with a long-overdue strategic plan, and we have a better idea of what is possible given the lean staffing set-up. Next month, we’ll take apart the nuts and bolts of the strategic plan at the national conference in Brisbane. I’m chuffed that we have 32 members registered for early birds, and we can offer them the Editors Victoria travel subsidy.

Last week, committee members and friends helped with a request that we contribute to another panel at Writers Victoria – All about editors. Thanks go to Kirstie Innes-Will, Kate Cuthbert and Susan Pierotti. Other interactions with allied organisations have included festival sponsorships, a highly successful student dinner meeting last year that we’ll be reprising in October, and our presence in Writers Victoria media.

We held a Redact residential professional development weekend in 2015, too – thanks go to Liz Steele and her team for masterminding and bringing to life this wonderful event.

These are things we have done together, as a committee. And it would not have been possible without this team of skilled, dedicated individuals. I will leave the details of each portfolio area to the committee member primarily responsible.

A new subcommittee is working on the 2019 national conference, to be held here with a tagline ‘For the love of words’ – how perfect for a City of Literature!

Our executive committee is made up of full members, and they have subcommittees made up of both full and associate members. This lightens the workload and opens up the opportunity for associate members to contribute their mind-blowing amount of know-how. We meet every two months for a meal and a committee meeting – the executive committee at every meeting, the full committee at alternate get-togethers. It’s always an incredible evening with ideas flying thick and fast – I love how everyone comes up with ideas and what can seem pie in the sky is suddenly real, it’s happening.

Back when Trischa Mann was president in 2014, she appointed Nicole Mathers as administrative assistant. Nicole astonished Trischa by the way she stepped straight into the role and learnt the procedures as if by osmosis. Since I came in, Nicole has quietly got on with it, stepping in often before being asked, always willing to go over and beyond what’s required of her on subcommittees, assisting at events and – you may have noticed things suddenly began working for you at a national level – that was Nicole getting IPEd member services under control. Thanks, Nicole.

I don’t know where Editors Victoria would be without Mary-Jo O’Rourke, our vice-president and freelance affairs officer. Always up for bouncing around ideas, persistently working to make better freelance events or to step in when needed. Thank you, Mary-Jo O’Rourke, who as vice-president and freelance affairs officer, has also acted as alternate IPEd councillor and general sounding board.

Thank you to our continuing budget officer, Charles Houen, for the countless hours he has put in as our right-hand man, presiding over finance, secretarial, IPEd and IT matters leading up to and throughout the transition to a national body. Charles has kept us together this year despite personal upheaval and sometimes not as much appreciation as deserved from Council.

Thank you to outgoing committee members Kate Cuthbert – who has put together a sparkling calendar of events, including our 45th anniversary gala event – and Paul Bugeja, who’s upped the ante on communications; Ron Thiele, training, and Louise Sampson, mentoring, who stepped down midyear.

Thank you, Margie Beilharz – our recently elected incoming communication officer and our wonderful ongoing newsletter editor. Welcome to Renée Otmar, who’s stepped in as IPEd councillor – a fitting role for a former Prez, especially seeing as she was instrumental in setting up IPEd at the very beginning. And thank you, Steph Heriot, our Accreditation Board delegate.

Our subcommittees supply the engine to run portfolios, and for that I thank each one of you. Also big thanks go to Maryna Mews for her enormous help with training.

Thank you, each of you. You’ve made it a pleasure – and lots of fun! – to be on the committee with you.

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Marnie Hannagan and Michelle Manly, who have nominated for subcommittees. You will be joining a great team, learning heaps and contributing your skills and time to Australia’s oldest and largest branch association of editors.

Jackey Coyle