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WIA membership – the importance of belonging

Date : 24 / 10 / 2016
Author : Roger Harrison - VK2ZRH

Many WIA membership renewals fall due at this time of the year. Quite a few members recall it and make their renewal via the WIA website. But, with busy lives, inevitably, some forget and will be sent a reminder letter from the National Office. A number decide, for various reasons, to not renew. Some just "let it slide" without any clear reason in mind.

Being a member of the Institute means different things to different people. There may be many reasons to belong and, it seems, a countervailing range of reasons to not belong. In this era, in which social media and short attention spans hold sway over many aspects of life, when membership renewal comes up, perhaps it's time to remind ourselves about the role of the WIA in your life - whether you're active on-air, or in your club, or just minimally involved and maintaining your licence for the day when you can return to the bands.

Every sphere of what the Institute does is explained graphically on the inside back cover of Amateur Radio magazine. It comes down to three basic key things: Advocacy, Education and Support. Advocacy is about representing radio amateurs' collective interests nationally and internationally, to all the authorities and institutions that influence our licensing, licence conditions and our life on-air. Nationally, taking it top-down, this means promoting the interests of Amateur Radio to government at federal and state level where necessity or opportunity arises. The WIA has taken part in the federal government's consultation on its Spectrum Review, which has led to the drafting of a new Radiocommunications Act, soon to be considered by the federal parliament. Some years back, you may recall the Institute supported a campaign to have the New South Wales Government planning agency permit radio amateurs to erect antennas or masts up to 10 metres height, without needing council permission.

Next, it means working with the regulatory authority, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, one of the most important relationships the WIA maintains. But it also includes representing Amateur Radio interest on relevant Standards Australia committees, for example. Internationally, the WIA is a member of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), which advocates and represents our interests to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that organises the important World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC). These WRCs, held every few years, determine frequency allocations and global radio regulations. You will recall that the last one was in November last year. From that, Australian radio amateurs will get to use a new amateur band at 5.3 MHz. The WIA's ITU Specialist, Dale Hughes VK1DSH, as head of the Australian delegation to WRC-15, played an important role in securing that new band for amateur radio across the world. Members are bought up to date on IARU matters through Amateur Radio magazine, broadcasts and the website.

Next on the list of what the Institute does is Education. In this sphere, the WIA develops and maintains licence assessment syllabuses and training course material. Importantly, the WIA trains and qualifies examination assessors.
The Institute has developed and publishes the Foundation Licence Manual, recently updated for the 3rd Edition, and the only syllabus and practices book available for prospective licensees. The WIA also gives support to ongoing education through articles published in Amateur Radio magazine and on the website. Finally, under Support, is everything else the Institute does. It issues Certificates of Proficiency for those who've passed their licence assessments, and provides callsign recommendations. A regular flow of information for members and the radio amateur community is provided via the weekly VK1WIA broadcasts, on the website and via Amateur Radio magazine, published 11 times a year, which members can also download as a digital edition. The WIA consults with members by publishing information, which has a ‘standing invitation’ for feedback on important matters. Feedback is welcomed, mostly online via the website, or by email.

The production of publications is a key support function of the WIA. Amateur Radio magazine is the only Australian publication devoted entirely to the hobby. The annual Callbook is also a WIA production and efforts are afoot to produce ‘one-shot’ publications covering specific topics. Look out for the ANZAC centenary publication, to be released shortly. Awards are a significant thing for many radio amateurs, particularly the DX Awards recognising on-air achievement, in addition to commemorative and special event awards, and merit awards recognising the achievements of individuals. On-air contests have been a constant in Amateur Radio since the early days. The WIA supports a range of contests covering a variety of operating interests. The Club insurance scheme supports Amateur Radio clubs to meet their public liability insurance obligations. The STEM Symposium initiative in November is another example of the WIA's role in supporting the Amateur Radio community.
To sum up - Advocacy, Education and Support - that's what the WIA does. When renewal time comes due, consider the bigger picture.

In being a member you support all those things the Institute does for your fellow radio amateurs, as well as yourself.


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