March 16, 2012
“Resist the temptation to walk intrepidly backwards into the future dragging the past with you” P. Metcalf, Feb 2011
Historically the home of rifle shooting in WA has been embedded with the Armed Forces and aligned with Commonwealth Land Holdings across the state. In the 1990’s it was recognised that this link had become tenuous and there may be a need to fund and find our own place. Council at the time recognised the value in ownership of the land on which the ranges were located however with the large areas of land required for a rifle range, ownership was not practical for all clubs and districts. The appointment of a Range Liaison Officer and guidance from Council has resulted in various ownership and leasing arrangements between the Rifle Association and DEC, State and Federal Government Lands Departments, Local Shire Councils and Private Land Holdings that has resulted in more than 75 ranges currently located around the state that fall under the control of the WARA.
Around this time it became apparent that our time at Swanbourne was finite and a new home for the State Headquarters would be required in due course. The value of the City’s growth in the northern corridor was recognised and one of the first steps was to establish the Wanneroo Rifle Club. By the early 2000’s it was realised that the Department of Defence had earmarked part of the Swanbourne Classification range for future development of Campbell Barracks and so it became essential to look for other possible sites, funding to build a suitable facility and provide for ongoing maintenance and develop a robust business plan to carry us into the future.
In 2001 the Department of Sport and Recreation indicated funds could be made available under the Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund to enable a club level development North East of Wanneroo. However ongoing developments with the Department of Defence it was recognised that a Club facility would not be a viable project but rather a facility that would become the State Headquarters and with the capacity to hold events with State, National and International standing was required. This took the project in to the area of the State Sporting Infrastructure Fund and with allocation of three annual budget amounts led to a total commitment of 6.6 Million Dollars.
In December 2010 with a DEC lease approval in its final stages and the funding approved in principal, the location and access came under scrutiny by the metropolitan Clubs. Their concerns were in respect to the viability of relocation proposals, WARA organised and conducted an information evening with interested club members, Architects, a Quantity Surveyor and representatives from Department of Sport and Rec.
In February 2011 due to growing concern from the membership regarding the move to Pinjar a workshop was conducted to discuss ways of minimising the negative effects of this move and maximising the benefits. Out of those meetings, two committees, the Pinjar Development Steering Committee and the WARA Management team were formed to manage not only the physical aspects of building the range but also to minimise the social aspect to the membership.
By developing the required Management Plan for the Association, we not only provide for the requirements of DSR but also provide a framework with which to go forward and improve membership, training and sustainability.
Following on from this workshop a Pinjar Building Committee was set up to look at the proposed plans and assess the current and any other proposals for cost, design strategy and function. This was required by the mandate from DSR to build a State headquarters and a range capable of supporting competition to a national and International level. This committee met on four separate occasions and established the design was eminently suited to the scope of the funding, however there was a costing differential that would need to be addressed either by additional funding or by paring back the initial design. It rdecided that the primary mandate was to build a rifle range; the secondary mandate was to provide for ongoing security and maintenance. The final consideration would be the fine detail and construction of the supporting building and associated offices.
This all led to the realisation by all members that the Rifle Association was undergoing the biggest change and most significant obstacles ever faced. The previous protection provided by the Department of Defence was gone and we were required to stand up and look after ourselves independently and provide for our future.
Most significantly costs that had been previously taken care of by the Army were going to need to be met by the Association. It also meant that while in the past we had been relatively happy to let membership numbers follow a natural course, it now became apparent that not only were numbers in decline but also the average age of the active shooters was increasing. This meant that we were retaining existing members longer however there would be a significant decrease in membership in future years due to natural attrition and more importantly should we fail to promote and provide opportunities for new members the movement would cease to function.
Our goal of Promoting and Developing the Sport of Target Shooting has never been more real than at the moment. The requirements associated with the building and management of the new facility at Pinjar make it absolutely essential to have a Management and Business Plan that will assist us in being a much stronger and proactive organisation and will sustain us into the future.
While we can adequately manage Business as Usual at club level , there have been numerous matters arising both within WA and on a national level that required additional involvement and distracted from our major focus for Pinjar. These included the EPA Noise Regulations, the proposed changes by the WA Police to Firearms ownership and license regulation, the NRAA commission regarding Electronic Targets and Ammunition, and the World Long Range Championships in Brisbane.
To effectively manage the increased involvement we recognised a need to have strong administrative support. It was identified that the role of Range Liaison Officer was no longer an occasional job but had become very involved across the state and at the same time the need was recognised for full time commitment in the Executive Officers’ role to handle the increased number of committees, engagements with State and Commonwealth bodies and the increased requirement to provide regular reporting.
Also, it was evident that we needed a strong and experienced executive officer who could hold the many fragments together and ensure we moved in the same direction together. This person would also be the constant contact that the internal and external stakeholders could reach in order to convey information and request involvement as the numerous projects pick up momentum and as the Pinjar Development takes shape. In response to these changes we first approached the existing incumbents to determine their desire to increase hours and step up their roles,
We were very fortunate to have at the time a Chairman of the caliber of Philip Metcalf. He took on the role at a crucial point in time and set many things in motion that have helped us reach our current position. Through his knowledge and experience Phillip had identified the changes WARA were required to make, the perspective of the Districts with the muted changes and the need to involve all in moving the sport forward.
He was very clear in his vision and conveyed the urgency and direction to all members. His loss was a huge tragedy in many ways and it has taken us time to adjust. However he had set in motion a plan that would help take the WARA through this transition period and ensured momentum gathered guide us into the future.
At this point it is important to outline the activities that have occurred over the six months since September to bring all members up to date with the current state of affairs. There has been a fair amount of comment in relation to the lack of information coming from the Council and the possibility of secret or hidden agendas and we take that on board. There was never an intention to hide or mislead the membership in any way. The timing has been difficult in that we have just had the period of summer recess where the office is unattended and shooting is suspended. In addition there were actions progressing but which were not completed and therefore there was nothing of note to report at that stage. It is the intention of council to now bring this up to date.
Brief Summary of activites:
1. Pinjar Lease:
A lease document was provided in September to the Council for endorsement, signing and then returning to DEC for executing. It was noted that apart from the severe restrictions on the activities on the proposed lease area, there were two worrying factors.
- The tenure was 15 years with three additional 5 year options and
- there was no provision for on range occasional camping.
In addition the services, notably the access road and the provision for power to site were two big expenses that were not incorporated as part of the range development plans and required an additional source of funding. At this time the Premier had been invited to the Queens presentations and it was hoped he would provide a sympathetic ear to our concerns. Unfortunately he was unable to attend but welcomed a delegation including the Chairman and the President to discuss the issues at hand. Through his involvement the lease was improved to two by 21 years and the camping restrictions were reviewed.
He also offered a possible alternative be investigated on land adjacent to the current location of Barbagallo Raceway. This would remove the additional cost of the access road upgrade and the cost of bringing power to site. This option was assessed and was found to be unsuitable due to current and proposed adjacent land usage and the original Higgins Road site has been confirmed as the only suitable site available. Discussions for additional funding for services will need to be continued and the Premier has invited further discussion at a future time.
The lease is being redrawn with the changes as described however DEC is extremely busy at this time of year due to wildfires and cyclones. It is expected that the new documentation will be available for signing soon.
2. Department of Sport and Rec Funding: Scope and design
At the November 2011 Council meeting advice was given that DSR had asked for an independent study of the current activities and the proposal for Pinjar,in the light of our current and future financial sustainability and membership base.
DSR appointed Quantum Consulting Australia Pty Ltd, a consultancy based in Queensland. They also appointed Rex Wigney to assess the technical aspects and suitability of the proposed range facility to fit the scope of the DSR funding. In early January a delegation from Quantum met with representatives from WARA (including myself, John Harding and Peter Sproule) and from DSR ( Ryan Willis and Bruce Campbell – our case managers) to set the initial discussions in place and identify their requirements to complete the assessment.
Following on from these discussions a second round of meetings were held to go through the current activities of the WARA, the plans for Pinjar and the proposed Business management plans. Finally site visits were arranged for February both at Pinjar to see the land assigned and at Swanbourne to assess the current assets and operation. The initial response is positive with the consultants indicating the proposal for Pinjar to be state of the art and visionary. They noted that we were already using electronic targets and were of the opinion that the proposed facility was appropriate and feasible given our current location, membership and work done towards preparing for the move and the scope and design brief from DSR. In order to complete their report and recommendations they require a copy of the signed Lease, a copy of the report from DEC in relation to the alternative site review and full current costings for the planned facilities.
3. DSR Funding : Business Case
DSR Funding has been provisionally assigned to the Pinjar Project but is dependant on a Business case that they are currently building to support the funding allocation. It is anticipated that this will be completed in May 2012. This includes both the report from Quantum Consultancy and the supporting documentation from the WARA specifically a signed lease, final plans and a full costing of the proposed facility.
Bruce Campbell was able to provide a very specific direction to us following the meetings in February and has provided written direction as follows.
Following strong representations from the WARA the DSR has allocated as much funding as is currently available / unallocated in the State Sporting Infrastructure Fund ( SSIF) to the tune of $6.6 Million. The urgency at this stage being the threat of forced exit from Swanbourne by Defence. The allocation is by far the most significant that any SSIF project has received and in light of the proposed funding for Smallbore and the funding given to Pistol for their forced relocations, the collective funding for the shooting disciplines has been huge.
The brief was for an international standard design specifically to avoid creating redundant facilities and also to avoid Associations seeking additional funding for facility development to host an event. The concept is to produce an appropriate design and based on this have a reasonable accurate estimate prepared to see if the budget is “in the ball park”. If not the project is pared back to the essentials without compromising the potential “bigger picture” based on the initial scope. If once this exercise is complete the budget is not adequate, the DSR would then seek to obtain additional funding if possible. However this could not be done without a robust view of what is required and a detailed costing of that scope/ design.
DSR also advised that this funding is not Compensation to the WARA for the loss of a range, it is not funding that WARA can apply to any projects that it deems worthy, it is specifically for the purpose of creating a State and National Competition Facility. If there are savings on the final outcome then the surplus funds will be returned to DSR for reallocation to the SSIF for other projects. If the WARA reaches the view that a club level facility is all that is required then the project no longer complies with SSIF and the funds will be withdrawn. At that point a new funding application will need to be sought and this would require different allocation and assessment.
4. WARA Staff:
As indicated earlier the staffing level within the organisation was reviewed and the agreement reached that a full time Executive Officer / Range Liaison Officer was required to manage the changes facing the Association and to assist with the anticipated transitions. It was also evident that the WARA Shop was separate to the Administration and should be identified accordingly. We are fortunate in having Anna and Tony Whittemore in the shop and bookkeeping roles as they provide strong customer focus and dedication to the membership base. They have been able to expand not only the counter sales at Swanbourne but also have worked hard with Peter Sproule to use the Website and online shopping to pick up customers from around Australia and also overseas. Their dedication and hard work is noteworthy and appreciated.
Our search for a full time Executive Officer attracted a range of candidates, all of which were outside of the Shooting Movement and through a selection and interview process recognised Stephen Jenkin as the most suitable candidate to progress in to the role. Information on Stephen is available on the WARA Website and as he has been in the role for a full week now can be contacted via the WARA office.
Michael Farrell vacated the role at the end of this week, however will provide guidance and assistance as required in the coming months as Steve gains the necessary knowledge in relation to the Shooting Movement. We appreciate the time that Michael has given the association over the last seven years in particular and wish him well in his retirement.
The other facet of the Executive Officer’s role will be to take on the Range Liaison role in relation to all aspects including communication, applications, renewals and mediation where required. John Fairbairn has worked tirelessly in this capacity and had identified that what had previously been an occasional letter or notice had grown into a significant workload as Clubs and Districts moved to leasing arrangements for their own ranges as the Army withdrew their support. He highlighted this at a meeting with the Executive Council in February 2011 and at this point it was agreed that the role would come under the duties of the Executive Officer, creating a full time complement of activities. John will be facilitating the handover to Steve in the next few weeks with the intention to vacate the RLO role at the end of March. He has kindly offered ongoing support if required. We appreciate the efforts that John has put into this role over the years and trust he can now relax and enjoy his shooting with undivided attention.
5. Pinjar Approvals and Agreements: Clearing permit and Bird Survey
The Range liaison officer reported in November that while a clearing permit had been granted by the State Native Vegetation Unit of DEC. Due to the large area being cleared, the clearing permit needed Commonwealth approval from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. An application was lodged and there was a subsequent request for further information in relation to the types, numbers and relative ages of the trees on the area to be cleared.
The RO duly attended to this request and lodged a report based on average countings over representative areas. Further to this report the Commonwealth requested further information regarding the area around the proposed site and specific survey results of listed bird species and in particular the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo. Two specialist Environmental Consultancy firms were contacted to provide quotations to supply the required report. It was not until the matters being attended by the Premier were settled that we could proceed with this survey.
The February Council meeting on recommendations from suitable business references endorsed the engagement of Ecologia to undertake the study and provide the required report. This is being attended to currently.
6. Pinjar Approvals and Agreements: Firing Rights
The safety template for the range extends into an area of Commonwealth controlled land that forms part of the RAAF Bombing Range. This is certainly a plus for the location as there is unlikely to be a change in use of this land in the foreseeable future. However the Commonwealth has a lease agreement with the State Government Lands Department for the land it occupies and this lease had lapsed. Initial requests for Firing Rights Agreement were therefore on hold until the issue of the Commonwealth Lease were resolved. Currently we are pursuing the execution of a Firing Rights Agreement between Defense, Land Department and the WARA.
7. Pinjar Approvals and Agreements : Costing Analysis
To date a detailed costing analysis was not available for full review of the financial viability of the range both with respect to construction and also ongoing maintenance. There has been discussion around these points at various levels however until the confirmation of scope of funding from DSR, final site confirmation from DEC and design modifications due to lease conditions and assessment from Quantum Consulting of the proposed facility, this was not able to be done in any detail.
We are now at the point of having enough detail to be able to provide a realistic cost analysis of the construction and the maintenance of the facility. It is agreed that the initial estimates exceed the initial funds available from DSR, however discussions have confirmed that a full operational costing of the facility proposal as is must be provided to enable the assessment of the design suitability as reviewed by Quantum to be complete and the business case from DSR to be completed.
We are guided by DSR in this respect and the proposed way forward is to finalise the full construction costs. If this exceeds the available funds then a review of the design be conducted to reduce the costs where possible while still maintaining the scope of design as indicated by DSR funding. If there is still an over budget cost then DSR will assist in applying for additional funding through other avenues.
Concurrent with this is a requirement to have a suitable maintenance costing schedule and a business plan to ensure it is viable and can be funded from within the organisation from income and membership. This business plan has been formulated and will be released shortly to the membership for review and discussion at the April meeting together with the cost analysis for the construction of the facility. If the proposals are acceptable then they will be provided to DSR and Quantum consultants for inclusion in their reports and the Business case finalised for DSR funding.
8. Pinjar Approvals and Agreements: Additional Funding
Once again DSR have a realistic approach in that there is an understanding that to maintain a State/ National / International facility requires additional ongoing financial assistance for all sporting bodies and they are working to address this. They have also advised that they can if deemed required make further representations to State and Federal bodies through Ministerial channels to promote our case for additional funding.
We have also communicated with the NRAA seeking endorsement and promotion of our request seeking additional funding, specifically to support the brief of providing an International Standard facility, through Australian International Shooting Limited (AISL) to the Australian Sports Commission.
Other funding options include small project funding for Heritage / Museum and IT projects that will assist in providing for some of the expenses related to the new facility.
While the Business Plan needs to show a viable future for the new facility these and other funding options continually emerge and we will continue to pursue all available sources to ensure the best outcomes. Any additional funds so received will only strengthen our financial position.
9. Pinjar, WARA and the way forward: Key decisions
To bring closure to the planning stages, apart from the items outlined above, there needs to be a clear understanding of the function of the WARA and its component Districts and Membership in the approval, design, construction, and ongoing facility use. We need to be clear that
- The facility and associated land will be owned, leased and operated by the WARA with the principle tenants being the MDRA.
- The decision makers in relation to all of the above are the affiliated members of the WARA and there needs to committed input from all districts.
- The Pinjar Development and Management structure put in place in February 2011 following the Pinjar Workshop on the template advised by DSR has been revitalised with an initial meeting of all Steering Committee Leaders on the 26th Feb with a request for feedback to the WARA Management Team by the 19th March.
- The WARA Management Team in consultation with the Steering Committee will need to review the Costing proposals in preparation for the Club Captains/ Presidents/ Secretarys meeting scheduled for April 2012, with a view to provide alternative design options in the case of excessive costs.
- One focus of the April meeting will be to tie down the costs to budget and agree to a forward planning and financial strategy for the Pinjar project. If the design is found to be outside the budget of confirmed funding, the proposed changes will need to be reviewed and scaled with agreement reached at this stage on the final design proposal.
- The WARA will also need to review and endorse a Maintenance Plan and Cost Analysis ( currently with the Executive for review) that will identify operating costs and future financial requirements to ensure the ongoing viability of the operation.
- The MDRA, being the major stakeholders as the primary tenants of the facility will also need to have their Business Plan and Cost Analysis in line with the WARA Business Plan to determine if the proposition is viable from their perspective and to ensure the future of the facility.
Once all plans are agreed and endorsed by Council, all agreements and licenses are in place and the financial viability of the WARA is confirmed, the planning phase will be complete and DSR will be able to release funds to enable the Pinjar Process to advance in earnest.
In short we have a lot of work to do and the while there are still open gates to be closed before we can move on, work is being done on many fronts to complete these final issues and ensure the best outcome for the WARA.
I trust you and your council find this report informative, your open communication and continued support it essential to the future of the movement. I trust that you will be able to support the workshop on the April and come prepared to disucss your district’s and club’s view of the final proposals. It is now that we must decide if our movement is to progress and prosper or slowly wither from neglect.
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