Dear Members,

Wherever you are across Australasia, I hope you are all keeping safe in these challenging times.

With the uncertainty associated with Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions, 2021 has not yet returned to business as usual for the Australasian Corrosion Association. Despite the difficult economic climate the Association has performed strongly in the first half of 2021, exceeding the budgeted financial performance. Restrictions in the eastern states of Australia across July/August (and very recently in New Zealand) have made delivery of training and events more difficult, which may result in a reduction in the performance of the second half of the year. Plenty of work is underway to mitigate disruptions to our training and events calendar where possible.

As announced earlier this week, with the current evolving situation in NSW we are exploring a number of scheduling and delivery options for Corrosion & Prevention 2021. This issue has the full attention of the team, and a detailed update will be provided by early September. Please be assured that if any changes to this event are required, these will be communicated to all stakeholders with sufficient notice.

Strategic Direction

As mentioned in my last major update (the Annual Report), the Board saw major change at the end of 2020 / start of 2021 with four new directors joining the team. In its first 6 months together, the Board members have developed synergy and are pulling together in the same direction, while continuing to challenge each other; it is a great team to be working with.

After much review and assessment, the Board has approved a Strategic Plan for the Association. This plan is largely based on the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan (which had been on hold due to Covid-19), but with modifications which the changing external environment. A final version of the Association’s Strategic Plan is currently being prepared and will be distributed to the membership shortly.

Underpinning the medium to long term strategic objectives of this plan is ensuring that the ACA has the right systems, processes, governance and resources to deliver and grow. The Board has spent much of 2021 focussed on these underlying issues and is actively working with Ross and the staff team to ensure they have a solid foundation on which to deliver for us in the coming years. This work has focused on four main areas: our digital systems, our knowledge and resource management, corporate governance, and staff resources.

1. Digital Transformation Roadmap

The ACA Board is conducting a review of its digital, marketing and communication platforms to improve the engagement and experience of our members, volunteers, stakeholders, staff and the public through a contemporary and user-friendly technological platform for our Association functions. Specifically, our aim is to deliver:

  • A single, seamless and tailored member view of their journey across all ACA functions (membership, finances, volunteer engagement, courses & training, CPD, events, advocacy, marketing and communications);
  • One source of information, with a better way to manage our data with effective integration of our systems;
  • Stable, simple and adaptable systems for the changing needs and expectations of our members; and
  • Real-time reporting for management to link KPIs to strategic goals and the Board to respond strategically to members’ feedback as well as industry trends and challenges.

With a single, fit for purpose digital solution, our staff will have the tools to better deliver on our ACA Strategic Objectives and improve your day-to-day membership experience. We are excited about the potential that this transformation will bring.

2. Document Management System Upgrade

The ACA Board has worked with Management to review the ACA’s knowledge management system, to ensure that the ACA is able to operate efficiently. The ACA’s knowledge system is currently spread across hard copy, hard drives and digital records. As with any organisation, archived hard copy documents and digital archives are sometimes not readily accessible, and by unifying our knowledge we can assist our staff team in supporting our members.  

The Board has provided direction and support to the management and staff to update our knowledge management systems by digitising and moving all archived knowledge to the cloud, where the ACA’s current documents are housed. In addition, an overhaul of the knowledge management system (folder structure and file naming convention) has been developed in conjunction with the staff, and a document management procedure created.

This activity aligns with our Digital Transformation Roadmap and Strategic Plan, addresses our lack of corporate memory and will help our staff and management team maintain consistent messaging to members and volunteers. The improved efficiency derived from a standardised knowledge management system is expected to contribute to improved member service and volunteer support.

3. Governance

The governance structures of an organisation are integral to its ability to successfully deliver on its mission. One example of this is the ACA Board’s recent decision to register as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). Being approved as a charity registered under the ACNC means that the ACA can apply for relevant discounts for its not-for-profit work while still maintaining our identity as an incorporated association. This aligns with the fiduciary duty of the Board and reinforces our not-for-profit vision.

In addition, the Board’s Governance committee has instigated a member-led review of our constitution and bylaws to ensure that these governance systems remain fit-for purpose, are working as intended, and providing us the best foundation to deliver on the objectives of our Association.

4. Staffing

As I am sure you are aware, many ACA members volunteer their time to contribute to ACA activities including branch committees, technical groups, conference committees, and other volunteer groups. In fact, these volunteer groups contribute strongly to achieving our Association’s objectives and in delivering parts of our strategic plan, and they often do so with very little support.

A new staff role, Volunteer Coordinator, will be created with the primary governance function of implementing and delivering a volunteer coordination/management program across the Association. This role will include activities such as:

  • Ensuring that volunteer roles and responsibilities are fully defined;
  • Developing, standardising or updating documentation including procedures, manuals, terms of reference, etc. for all roles and groups identified;
  • Identifying skills, training and support requirements that volunteers in each position will need;
  • Develop training and induction materials including documentation packs, power point slides and delivery notes, non-disclosure and confidentiality forms; and
  • Developing and delivery of an association-wide volunteer management program, including an annual timeline for volunteer inductions, training, coordination meetings, etc.

The Board is excited about this new role, and the improved ability of our staff team to support our members and volunteers. A full update of changes to staffing will be provided by Ross in his next communication to you.

I would like to thank all ACA members and volunteers for their ongoing effort to deliver on our objectives in the face of difficult circumstances. Although Covid-19 has made life difficult, the shift to online meetings has meant that I have been able to visit most Branches this year to hear what they are working on, and to update them on the Board’s progress. It is always great to hear from members; my email address is below if you would like to provide any feedback, find out how to get involved, or just to discuss what you think is important to our industry.

Best Regards,                                           

Dean Ferguson

ACA Board Chair

dean.ferguson@corrosion.com.au