End of Financial Year Update
If this past couple of financial years could be summed up in only a couple of words, I think we would use challenging yet positive. Although, it was difficult, there was so much to look forward to, probably more so than ever. Human interaction was a thing to look forward to in of itself. We may never take things for granted like we once used to.
All in all, Fishcare Victoria has had another successful financial year. All five groups contributed and worked together to deliver workshops to 4,456 participants across the state through 222 school and community events and 50 FishAbility workshops. This was a significant achievement considering our normal deliveries were once again impacted due to COVID-19 over the back half of 2021. Looking at the quarterly breakdown, it was evident of the impact of COVID-19 with Q1 and Q2 only contributing approximately 22% of total clinics. However, event through the adversity, we still class that as a win. Delivering several clinics online and in person in between the continual barrage of lockdowns to start the financial year. It did mean that staff and volunteers had to work extremely hard in the last half though.
The break that COVID-19 gave us from clinics was used wisely though, allowing staff to catch up on much needed administrative tasks, including further updates to our online resources in the form of education content and videos, updates to our policies and procedures, gear maintenance and volunteer engagement.
The number of clinics we were able to achieve wouldn’t be possible without the tireless work from our facilitators and volunteers, with staff using 545 hours and volunteers donating 1,265 hours across the state. These impressive numbers of volunteer hours average out to be worth approximately $46,000.
Executive Officer Achievements: EO, Sarah Van Stokrom continued her tireless work in the background maintaining and developing relationships with partners and stakeholders across the state to ensure the rebound from COVID-19 was as seamless as possible. Sarah also managed to secure the amalgamation of our large grants and baseline funding from the RFL to ensure that the next three years are financially secure as we continue to try and deliver our program further than we have before with clinics ranging from Warrnambool in the states West, to Mallacoota in East and Echuca in the North.
Growth Areas: Our biggest area of growth and enquiry has been our FishAbility program. It’s clear that there has been a lack of services in this area and the benefits associated with fishing to all persons, and especially those who have varied abilities. It has provided participants the ability to explore potential interests, have a relaxed mindful experience, form social relationships, and increase stewardship with natural environments. We have now brought this program to most of our active regions in some capacity with either clinics held or expressions of interests in other regions including Traralgon, Bendigo, Echuca, Kerang and Swanhill this year alone. We are excited to continue this program into the 2022-2023 financial year.
Partnerships: It’s been another spectacular year working with a wide range of partners state-wide, both new and continuing. We have maintained an ongoing partnership with the VFA, working closely with them at their Vicfish Kids events as well as Troutfest and Hooked on events. They have also had several enforcement officers assist with clinics in the East. We have also worked directly with 34 other previously engaged stakeholder including the ATF, Parks Victoria, DELWP, Reclink, Deakin University, Encompass, EDGE, Bett2gether, Elwood Angling Club, Wathaurong Co Op, Bellarine Catchment Network just to name a few.
More excitedly we have worked with 22 new partners state-wide. This growth over this tough year is a testament to the work the Fishcare team has put in to continue to grow and improve our program and reach further afield.
Volunteer Recruitment: Volunteer/member recruitment remains a large issue for all NGO’s and clubs alike. COVID has not exactly helped this. Despite that, we have had a decent number of new volunteers recruited and more that have reached out but are yet to engage. The highest overall growth was in the Geelong and Bellarine which had 6 from 10 enquiries followed by Melbourne region with another 2 from 8 enquiries. It remains one of our toughest challenges, however we remain positive and look forward to meeting new volunteers and creating new friendships in the 2022-2023 year.