“Passion & dedication deserves politicians’ support & patronage…”
So says Michael Oxer in the Railtrails Australia Winter 2006 newsletter. Speaking with years of experience shared by others such as Roma, myself and soooo many others, Michael speaks for many community-based groups when he says:
“Committees of not-for-profit associations are typically built on the generosity and dedication of volunteers members of local communities.
Even where rail trail management committees include local Council and other (departmental) staff persons, volunteers are a crucial and indeed essential reason for the success of trail establishment and survival.
A threat to this volunteer force is weariness, especially when the going is hard, and (there is) a tendency to become disconnected from the wider movement.
Roma says she’s 65, sick of trying to change the system and she’s just not up to it any more…she’s ‘plumb burnt out’.
She has fought, kicked and scrabbled to get the powers-that-be on every level possible to LISTEN. Somehow, it has to be got through to society that volunteers can’t go on for ever.
The tracks and trails industry, the much wider front, is where Michael’s interest is directed, particularly the recent 4th National Tracks and Trails Conference in Hobart. With such a gathering of practitioners from across Australia, plus international input, there is a move to establish a national alliance across the tracks and trails sectors.
“There are too many national and state level peak and sector organisations, often with an interest in the same physical trail infrastructure, but too often not coordinated in dealing with state governments to ensure coherent top level strategic planning and structures” says Michael.
He cites the many Australians making use – often on a daily basis – of our thousands of kilometres of tracks and trails and points to the tourists both internationals and Aussies.
Essentially all are using what for the most part are free places to walk, ride a horse or cycle. Businesses are developing because the tracks and trails network exists.
Questions for policy/decisionmakers:
- What is the economic benefit to the small business sector and the flow-on to the national economy?
- What is the health benefit to the community at large?
A new national Tracks & Trails alliance which brings greater coherence to lobbying efforts and rationalisation of states’ strategies and national standards would see individual committee management greatly strengthened.
“We might even see proper governmental attention given to what happens after a track or trail is opened, the ongoing years of management and maintenance which so far has too much been the burden of volunteers from local communities. The passion and dedication of volunteers deserves the support and patronage of our politicians” says Michael.
DO let us know if your group/committee faces similar problems getting Roma’s ‘powers-that-be’ to listen so you can achieve worthwhile goals that benefit many??
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