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Report on the 2105 WIA AGM Meeting Canberra

Date : 20 / 05 / 2015
Author : Robert Broomhead - VK3DN

About 120 members attended the Institute’s Annual General Meeting weekend, which was held in Canberra from the 8th to the 10th of May 2015. A Saturday bus tour of our national capital saw partners enjoy some of the city’s highlights and had them back in time for the dinner on the Saturday evening.

On Saturday morning the AGM segment commenced with a moment’s silence, to remember the silent keys of the past year. This was followed the usual business reports, a financial statement and other annual general meeting formalities.

With the business over, President Phil Wait VK2ASD went on to present the annual awards recognising the achievements attained by worthy amateurs. Once the clapping subsided, the fun began with the "Open Forum”, featuring lively presentations from a variety of presenters. The Open Forum allows WIA members to speak, comment, ask questions and make suggestions on any topic. Dale Hughes VK1DSH led the charge, with a short, stimulating talk titled "the importance of being involved", highlighting his advocacy work for amateur radio on behalf of the Institute at World Radio Conferences and many associated Working Party meetings.

The central theme of the Open Forum this year was the tenth Anniversary of the Foundation Licence. From a position of steady decline before 2005, the reshaping of the licence system into the Advanced, Standard and new entry point Foundation Licence, has seen that downward trend turned around. At the Open Forum, each current WIA assessor who’d been with the scheme from the start was recognised with a special framed certificate to mark their 10 years of service.

Further presentations across the Saturday afternoon featured a range of speakers covering the many details of Assessment and Education in Amateur Radio and the WIA’s Role in the System. This included one talk on special needs and remote assessments, in which the WIA has been particularly successful. To relieve the seriousness, Andrew Morsley VK1NAM and Simon Pearce VK1FAAS conveyed their passion and enthusiasm for Summits on the Air, known as SOTA – an activity that combines bushwalking, hill climbing and portable amateur radio. What’s not to like? Simon highlighted SOTA activities as ideal for providing successful on-air experience for Foundation operators – better than calling "blind" into the aether with 10 watts. Paul Simmons VK5PAS backed this up with an engaging presentation on the World Wide Flora and Fauna awards system that mixes amateur radio with drawing attention to the importance of protecting nature, flora and fauna.

A presentation on amateurs’ obligations concerning their electromagnetic emissions, given by Roger Harrison VK2ZRH, drew some questions and comments from the floor. Tongue in cheek, Roger led the audience in chanting "What do we want? A thousand watts! When do we want it? Now!" Comments and suggestions from the floor of the meeting included issues on band planning, the perennial query on licence fees, Intruder Watch activities, the handling of correspondence, membership of committees, a suggestion for plastic wallet-sized amateur licences, donations and club equipment insurance, amongst others. All of the issues and suggestions were logged for consideration by the Board.

Touched on during the Open Forum, and at the dinner held that evening, members heard more about the ACMA being in a state of change over recent times, including the introduction of a new online digitised licence handling system for all radiocommunications licensees – not only amateurs, but broadcasters, commercial users and others.

The Saturday night guest speaker at the annual dinner was Mr Mark Loney, who heads the ACMA’s Spectrum Operations and Services Branch. He opened with a travelogue about his recent trip to Mongolia, studying how a third-world country tackles the challenges of spectrum management.

Having softened-up his attentive audience, Mr Loney explained that there had been a delay in the advised shut-down of the current licence system in preparation for a switch-over to a you-beaut new one. Apparently, it was judged to be not quite ready to go live. No doubt we’ll hear more about this from the ACMA in coming weeks and months. Mr Loney went on to highlight that the current three radiocommunication licence types now available – Apparatus, Spectrum and Class licences – are likely to be changed or amalgamated under a review of how the spectrum is managed here. Mr Loney hinted at this brave new world, with many challenges likely to be waiting in the wings. The WIA Board sees the coming changes as positive, has already made submissions to the reviews announced, attended briefings and information sessions, published reports on what’s transpired so far and is preparing to respond to the many challenges ahead.

The Board sincerely thanks all who helped to bring together the 2015 AGM and Open Forum, in particular – Amanda Hawes VK1WX and members of the Canberra Amateur Radio Club, our office staff Mal Brooks VK3FDSL and Diane Ashton VK3FDIZ, the many members who turned up at the Friday night meet-and greet at King O’Malley’s pub, and assorted bodies who assisted during Saturday.


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