May 2017

NATIONAL CONFERENCE

FWDV President, Garry Doyle, together with CEO, Wayne Hevey, recently attended the National Body’s (FWDA) quarterly meeting in Perth. Their aim was to both represent the interest of Victorian members and to seek a better understanding of the activities and finances of the national body. FWDV contribute approximately $13,000 annually towards the running of 4WD Australia and the Board felt the need to ensure the Association’s ongoing involvement represents value for money.
The conference was successful from the viewpoint of FWDV in that it addressed a range of concerns that had been raised by the state associations. Of interest, 4WD Australia has been developing an insurance product to protect affiliated 4WD clubs and their members across Australia on the basis that a nation-wide product would be more cost effective than individual state policies. While the draft policy still needs fine tuning the Association’s management believes that, if it shows a marked benefit for all our members, it will be duly considered.
FWDV GENERAL MEETING

The Association’s General Meeting held at Warragul on 25 March 2017 was attended by 15 clubs. A highlight was President Garry Doyle’s presentation of the Association’s strategic plan for the next 5 to 10 years. The report was positively received by the meeting.

GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIONS

The Association has regular meetings with various government departments at the highest level. This ensures member’s interests are considered when planning and policy decisions are made that impact on 4WD activities. A recent meeting has been held with the Honorable Lisa Neville (Minister for Water and Police) and a report presented to the Honorable Lily D’Ambrosio (Minister for Energy, Environment and
Climate Change) regarding the contribution affiliated 4WD clubs have made through programs such as Camp Host, Clean up the Bush and track clearing.

As part of the Association’s funding grant, a commitment was made to DELWP that FWDV clubs would contribute 2,500 man hours of voluntary program work over the 2016/2017 financial year. At present member clubs have provided 10,500 hours of their time plus another 3,000 hours that involved 225,000km in travelling to and from those volunteer activities. It is performance like this that underpins the ongoing preparedness of the government to consider the Association’s position on matters that impact its members.

The Association is looking to revive the “Recover Me Please” program that was trialed for 18 months prior to 2012. During the time the program was previously in force, participating clubs received not only the warm gratitude of those they recovered but also earned valuable revenue.

LAND USERS MEETING

Our members may have heard of the concept being muted as the Great National Forest Park. FWDV recently facilitated a meeting of 16 various associations and interested parties concerned about their ongoing access in this region. The Association is keen to have its members’ access protected in respect of existing tracks that will be covered by the proposed Park. We heard that this Park is proposed (not from within Government at this stage) to reinvigorate the towns in the area since forestry activities have left the region. Our belief is that reinvigoration is an admirable objective and that we can contribute to this, BUT we must have consultation and seek a solution that meets the needs of all the parties involved. There is no decision by the Andrews Government in respect of creation of the Park but with a State election next year it is undoubtedly a move where the Government could hope to gain some political mileage and improve its environmental credentials. We are aware that we need to be heavily involved in this consultation and decision making process if it comes to fruition.

THE VICTORIAN ENVIRONMENT ASSESSMENT COUNCIL

Another example of the Association making its voice heard is VEAC. For those who haven’t heard of this body its role is to investigate requests by the Government relating to the protection and ecologically sustainable management of the environment and natural resources of public land.

The Association, represented by Michael Coldham, is one of 13 members that provide input to VEAC. This membership covers a very diverse range of interests including environmentalists, farmers, indigenous peoples, forestry, local government and tourism.  Given some of these groups could be considered to have incompatible goals and policies, VEAC must surely experience its share of robust discussions!

RTO COURSES FOR TELSTRA

The Association is currently conducting 4WD training courses for Telstra staff out of Mansfield. Interestingly, without formal training Telstra staff are not permitted to use their 4WD vehicles in low range, and a blanket ban is in force on the use of the winches their vehicles are often fitted with.

Accredited driving courses have also been booked for the Game Management Authority in the near future and chainsaw courses are once again on offer.

Prior to the content and structure of RTO courses being overhauled by the responsible authority, training courses were a valuable source of revenue for the Association. With courses coming back on stream and interest being expressed by large corporates like Telstra, management hope they will once again form a reliable income stream for the Association.

HIGH COUNTRY & BEYOND 2017


The High Country & Beyond event (known last year as Buckland & Beyond) was held over several days at the end of March. Organised by the Wangaratta 4WD Club but open to all clubs and members of the public, the event drew participants from as far away as South Australia and Queensland. Numbers were much the same as last year as a lack of sponsorship or funding limited the organisers ability to promote the event widely. Additionally, the move from the previous bush based camping in the Buckland Valley to the more civilized surrounds of the Omeo Caravan Park and a lack of longer 3 and 4 day trips were possibly a deterrent for some. In defence of the organisers it needs to be noted that the relocation was necessary to avoid environmental restrictions associated with events held on public land.  Be that as it may, those who did attend all spent an enjoyable few days exploring nearby destinations.

Tailgate Campers who manufacture slide-on camper bodies and are associated with the Wangaratta 4WD club arranged for several of their clients to participate on a 2 day trip, overnighting at McKillops Bridge on the Snowy River. With a 40 second setup time and go anywhere capability, the Tailgate Camper, while perhaps not for everyone, has a number of strong selling points for a couple planning extended remote travel.

While High Country & Beyond’s organisers may have lacked funding they certainly didn’t lack enthusiasm and yet again proved their ability to organise a successful event.

FWDV AND DELWP CONDUCT JOINT COMPLIANCE EXERCISE

Over the recent Labour Day weekend several FWDV representatives joined with DELWP compliance staff  to visit numerous campsites in the High Country from Colquhuon Forest through to Swifts Creek, Aberfeldy and the McAlister area. The aim of the weekend was to demonstrate to the Association representatives the level of what can only be described as ‘bad behaviour’ exhibited by some members of the public and to seek the Association’s support in DELWP’s push for greater powers in dealing with offenders. Needless to say numerous examples of fires left unattended, inappropriate camping and rubbish left where it fell were observed. Where caught in the act, offenders registration numbers were noted and they were advised that if follow-up checks showed rubbish had not been removed or fires extinguished infringement notices would be issued.

FIRST AID COURSE

The Association is running a first aid and CPR course on 13th May.

This is an opportunity to keep your first aid qualification current and with the Association subsidising the cost to members, the $80 fee represents great value.

Anyone considering undertaking a first aid course should contact the Association’s office ASAP to take advantage of this offer.

THE MIGHTY SNOWY RIVER

A recent visit to McKillops Bridge with the High Country & Beyond event (referred to elsewhere in this newsletter) showed the Snowy River flowing strongly. A far cry from the string of almost stagnant waterholes it had become before the environmental water releases from the Hydro Scheme.