Did the Australian Climbing Association Victoria (ACAV) succeed in taking control of the Victorian Climbing Club (VCC) at last night’s AGM?
Yes, and no.
Last night at the VCC held its AGM upstairs at a pub in Fairfield. The number of attendees was comparatively very high, with people packing out the room and choking the doorway. There were around 75 attendees in person, 15 or so dialled in from Natimuk, five were on the line from Sydney and a few others scattered here and there making around a hundred all up. For context, at the VCC AGM last year there were less than ten members present. At the ACAV AGM this year there were 24 members and four non-members in attendance. Nothing brings out the crowds like a take over.
The prize on offer was more than the ability to steer the VCC’s social and climbing activities but also the club’s access apparatus, CliffCare. Though there has been a lot of talk about synergies and working together (indeed there was a resolution on the agenda last night for VCC to affiliate with the ACAV) there have been differences in strategy and philosophy between the VCC and the ACAV. CliffCare has significant funds, Paula Toal had a seat on the Stakeholder Reference Group (via the Founding Council) and the VCC is in control of the ‘show reasons’ legal mechanism which was put to PV when the bans were first put in place. There are those who believe that a single, unified climber’s voice would better serve the climbing community.
Despite a lot of debate online in the lead up to the AGM, mostly it proceeded very cordially, the focus being on politely detailing climbing resumes, intoning support for the VCC’s good works in the community and hope for its continuation. Obviously there was some mention of the ACAV but little by way of recognition of any differences between the two bodies nor of what the practical implications of what a change in VCC leadership could bring. There were very few fireworks, with only one heated exchange during the general committee member nominations and one moment of utter farce during the nominations for the Treasurer. Apart from that the elephant in the room was quiet.
The question that many have been asking themselves was: is unity better than genetic diversity? In the end, the challenger Kevin Lindorff beat out the incumbent Paula Toal in what was described as a ‘very close race’. Kevin has been a long-time member and once-president of the VCC who has aligned himself with the ACAV. In an interesting turn Paula was voted in as Vice President, beating out Matt Brooks, himself another very long-time Australian climber, Licensed Tour Operator and current committee member of the ACAV who was standing on a combined ticket with Kevin.
James McIntosh was appointed the Secretary uncontested, Wei Chan was voted in as Treasurer unanimously. In terms of general committee members there are a few members carrying on and a lot of new faces: Ben Wright, Cameron Abraham, Claire Grubb (new), Matt Brooks (new), Richard Ham (new), Tori Dunn (new) and Phil Neville (new).
*the original version of this post wrongly reported there were three people in Sydney when in fact it was five.