In the last week this commentary has accelerated and was further fuelled by a press release from Anglicare claiming that:
“…nearly 3 in 4 Canberrans want to see community contributions administered by a body independent of the Clubs. It is very clear that Canberrans are sceptical that the Clubs will distribute the proceeds from poker machines in the most appropriate way. We strongly believe that the ACT Government must put in place an independent body that is not captured by industry.”
I am writing this open letter to you, the members of The Canberra North Bowling and ACT Rugby Union Club (CNBACTRUC) to completely reject the suggestion that our club distributes community contributions inappropriately, and that an independent body is needed to distribute our hard-earned fundraising dollars.
Clubs are set up by people with common interests and common objectives. Of course, they then should have the right to distribute funds in line with these interests and objectives. Non-sporting groups are quite entitled to establish their own licenced clubs rather than undermine clubs already in existence.
The CNBACTRUC brought together two of Canberra’s oldest and smallest clubs in 2014. It was established to “Foster and encourage interest and participation in sport in the ACT, particularly the game of Lawn Bowls and the Rugby Union Football Code; and promote social intercourse amongst the members and guests of the Association.”
It is a direction that has seen lawn bowls, both competitive and barefoot, flourish in the last two years and also an approach that sees more than 15 community sporting clubs now call The RUC its home.
The RUC is a base for sporting organisations operating on the smell of an oily rag and chook raffles. These organisations support the RUC and we support them. They are all relationships that have taken time to build, and they are relationships that we look forward to continuing for many years to come.
It has taken considerable effort to build the CNBACTRUC and it is a club in the real sense – with volunteers, paid workers, and associated community groups all united under common objects.
To set up our Club, the Registrar General required us to predetermine that the Club was eligible for incorporation and had passed a resolution to approve a statement of the objects of our association.
The Club’s initial application to the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission required us to detail the extent to which the Club has contributed to the community and supported and benefited the community, a statement of beneficiaries, our harm minimisation measures as well as our constitution and objects.
For the record, our Community Contributions go to lawn bowling, rugby union, local cricket clubs, touch Football, netball, junior rugby league, women’s soccer, local hockey clubs, the Turner School Fete, and umpteen raffle prizes for Charities and Fundraisers.
Each year the club distributes more community contributions than the 8% required by the legislation because we are extremely proud of, and believe in our affiliated groups. They make the very fabric of our Club. Each year these contributions are extensively audited by Access Canberra to ensure compliance with the legislation.
At a time when obesity rates are soaring, there is undoubted community value in sport, exercise, inclusion and social interaction.
In my view, our Club should be allowed to get on with raising money to help pay for our bowling greens, rugby and other amateur sports in the Inner North. The price of us not being able to effectively do this would mean a steep rise in membership fees and a likely drop in participation numbers in local sport.
It would be truly bizarre for all of our hardworking club volunteers to be raising money to be distributed by a third-party organisation, away from the objects of our constitution and our original purpose. It would have a significant impact on community sporting groups affiliated with our club.