I am writing to you as the newly appointed Chair of the Equestrian Australia (EA) Board to give you an update on some important topics.
As you would be aware there are currently three Board vacancies. I am delighted to say that there have been 27 nominations from many well qualified candidates offering their services to fill those vacancies. We hope to be able to make an announcement of their appointments by the end of this month. It is fantastic so many people are prepared to give up their time to improve the sport.
I thought I would also take the time to also talk about EA and why we need it.
We need EA to;
- be a strong advocate for continued government funding and support,
- make it possible for riders to fulfil their aspirations of representing their state or country,
- educate the community and ensure the true story is told about the relationship between horse and rider,
- ensure that all riders are adequately insured in what is at times a hazardous sport.
To do this we also need your support.
This message is also about where we are and how each and every one of you can help.
The events in the past few months have shown us what a large and diverse community we are. That means there are always going to be the highs and lows. For example we have seen the incredible success of the inaugural Dressage by the Sea 2019 CDI4 event at Terry Snow’s Willinga Park, hopefully a precursor to bigger and better competitions and greater overall success.
On the negative side there has been the scrutiny we are receiving over safety, and our response to allegations of sexual misconduct. There are those with the wisdom of hindsight who say there have been things that EA could have done a lot better. It is difficult for any large organisation to rapidly and positively respond to changes in the way these issues are dealt with. However I believe criticism arises more out of the failure of EA to properly keep members and stakeholders informed and aware of what actually is happening in head office, rather than out of criticism of what EA has done or not done
EA needs to ensure that all members have a full appreciation of the work that is being done to enhance the sport, protect the rider and horse, and increase the competitiveness of our riders aspiring to national and international representation.
We are resolved to ensure information and consultation are the keystone performance benchmarks for the future.
EA Performance Assessment
Just to take a little time to review EA’s performance to date for those things incorrectly done, all we can do at present is to ensure lessons are learned and mistakes are not repeated.
Looking at what hasn’t been done my summary of the causes and responses includes that EA has not;
regularly explained to you what it is doing and why. That is now changing and both the state branches and the participating members will receive more regular communication from EA.
in collaboration with the state branches, adequately ensured that the participants including the riders, officials and judges treat each other with respect. Respect obviously is something which is earned and therefore the comment applies to all groups. EA will do all it can to ensure respect is given and received even where there is perceived wrong doing and will take action where and when required to ensure that any perception of favoured treatment, cheating, bullying, harassment or worse does not exist. If there is then EA will do what is required to correct the behaviour or rid ourselves of any actor who participated in or perpetuated this behaviour. EA itself will ensure that all members are treated in the appropriate way.
worked and consulted with the states to define, agree and fulfil mutual objectives. The consulting process is starting with the appointment of new directors and will continue with a defined program to be implemented once the new directors are on board.
The list of what EA has achieved is significant and the list of actions undertaken grows longer each day and I won’t try listing everything but here are a few examples from the area of safety over the recent period.
Appointment of a National Safety Officer to advise on specific safety issues and oversee the implementation of changes to reduce risk and improve safety in our sport;
Review and strengthening of Emergency Management Plans and Serious Injury Management Plans for events;
Introduction of Rules and Course Design Guidelines which mandate the use of frangible devices for 2* and higher level events;
Enhanced collection and dissemination of safety data throughout the sport to better inform officials and participants and to facilitate fact-based decision making.
Engagement of a sports science company called Equiratings, to provide better analysis of future risk based on past results.
Review of the best practices in Personal Protective Equipment use.
On the issue of sexual harassment we have recently posted an initiative on the EA website Sexual Harassment Policy to ensure that any rider or official can understand EA’s policy and process to help deal with any allegation of harassment without any fear or retribution. EA has also promoted the support available of the ASC Sexual Misconduct Helpline 1800 ASC HELP (1800 272 43 57) or email email@example.com
Support from Members
As a member it is well to remember that the continued success of the sport is in your own personal interest. We need your help to make the sport stronger and more resilient. That support that will in turn feedback to enhance your membership experience.
We will probably continue to receive negative publicity from the press and outsiders; it simply goes with the territory these days. I just ask this: when you are next reading a criticism of EA ask yourself if you have all the facts in your possession to make a judgment or whether you are simply assuming a media post is correct. If you don’t, don’t share it. Get the facts first and don’t assume that someone else is correct.
There is nothing to be gained by repeating ill-informed criticism of EA or any of the national or state bodies or officials who try so hard to run the sport. There is much to be gained by volunteering, constructive comment and criticism so that your sport becomes better and more enjoyable for you. We have the obligation to our horses and our fellow members to do the best we can to support our organisation. That means we all need support as well as respect from each other.
We also have to be prepared to withstand the inevitable setbacks which will come in the future whether they be proposed government legislation, a renegade member or the criticism of third parties who think they know more about people or animal welfare then we do.
Neither EA nor the state branches are financially wealthy organisations. They all need willing participating members prepared to step up and volunteer their time with the sole reward of knowing you have done something to make the sport better. I can also say after talking to many volunteers and the employed staff of EA that we are lucky to have so much well qualified talent available.
From EA’s point of view our first duty is to its members and every time we have to respond to a third party critic making uninformed criticism that response is a diversion of resources available to service the members .The obvious difficulty is that as non-members, those propagating criticism cannot be aware of and don’t care about either ascertaining the facts, or the obligation of EA to be fair to all of its members.
You can help EA by being informed about what we do and helping us convey our message to the world .
EA will try to do the same!
CHAIR, EQUESTRIAN AUSTRALIA LIMITED
Article courtesy of Equestrian Australia