Bowls Forum and AGM Wrap

by Aaron Delaporte

The Bowls WA Annual General Meeting was held Saturday 31st July at Osborne Park Bowling Club with 50 clubs in attendance. In the absence of Bowls WA President Larry Bandy who is recovery from an operation, the forum and AGM were chaired by Deputy President Doug Kelly. He thanked those in attendance and made a special mention of volunteers both at an Association and club level noting that during these unprecedented times an even greater administrative burden had been placed on the sport and society in general.

Preceding the meeting was a forum which included several important topics. The first of these was the announcement of a Bowls in WA Governance Review which had been commissioned by the Bowls WA Board and steered by appointed Director Brian Lucas. Consultant Peter Minchin and his company Purpose Driven Performance were appointed to conduct a full review of the governance structures and the operational activities of Bowls WA.

The purpose of the Governance Review was to ensure Bowls WA can continue to meet their compliance obligations under law plus enable the sport to continue to meet challenges around membership and the financial impacts of running the sport. In addition, was a focus on effective communication and decision-making processes, ensuring they are still relevant and meet the needs of all stakeholders in the sport.

The review which was the first of its kind since Bowls WA unified in 2004 was fully costed through the Department of Government, Sport and Cultural Industries via grant funding.

Regional Bowls Manager Clive Adams began the presentation with a simple statement.

Bowls WA and you, our member clubs, need to work more closely for the benefit of Bowls in WA.

Which of course received general agreement of those in attendance. Whilst specific details of the Consultant’s 21 recommendations from the review were not specifically discussed a process was noted that will have Bowls WA and club’s partner to consider the recommendations and agree on a way forward. Whilst some changes may be looked at in the short-term others will take extensive consultation and could occur over several years.

Also part of the forum were several issues raised by clubs. The first of which was the amalgamation of Premier league and 1st White for the Men’s Midweek competition, mainly due to the difficulties of travel required following matches. A show of hands showed a clear majority towards this change which will now go through the required process with the relevant Bowls WA Committees.

Several notices from clubs also concerned mixed gender Pennants with several different requests bought to the forum. The general feeling amongst those who spoke was that Pennant Bowls in WA would benefit from the future planning of mixed gender competition. Likewise, this notion is now with Bowls WA to explore further. 

Finally, there was discussion around the heat rule and how it applied in WA with Dalkeith-Nedlands in particular presenting the case for review.

After a short recess the Annual General Meeting was held with Deputy President Doug acknowledging the attendance of Past President Kerry Andersen, Vice Patron Norma Samuel and the fellow Board members in attendance. A summation of President Larry Bandy’s report was tabled via Doug who thanked Larry for his diligent work in leading the Board over the past 12 months.

Finance Director Lisa Featherby then gave a detailed account of the finances of Bowls WA making note of several important financial outcomes, including an increase in state competition participation, sponsorship and grants whilst a decrease in several expenses including Bowls Australian affiliation fees and those relating to High Performance with the National Sides Series being cancelled due to Covid. A larger return on investments than expected was also noted in the report. This led to an initial budget deficit being turned into the already announced $75,000 surplus. Lisa also noted the Auditors report which cited Bowls WA’s accounts to be a fair and true representation with the Association able to meet its obligations as required. Lisa noted that Bowls WA would meet with some financial challenges in the next 12 months having lost a major sponsor in Blooms The Chemist which have now progressed to a National sponsorship of the sport. The currently predicted outcome for 2021/22 is for a $100,000 deficit, however, as is always the case this is a conservative figure which may improve especially if any new sponsorships take place. Fortunately, Bowls WA is in a very sound financial position with strongly performing assets.

CEO Ken Pride as returning officer for Bowls WA also announced the outcome of the election following expired terms of several positions including the Vice President Doug Kelly and three directors Lisa Featherby, Lee Bunney and Debbie Capper. Doug Kelly, Lisa Featherby and Lee Bunney all renominated and were elected unopposed along with new Board Director Judy Flanagan from Binningup Bowling Club.

CEO Ken Pride congratulated those four directors on their appointments and welcomed Judy Flanagan to the Board noting her extensive career within sport. Judy had been the CEO for Volleyball Australia plus held senior management roles at the Australian Sports Commission and Australian Institute of Sport.

Following those announcements, a presentation was made to outgoing Director Debbie Capper who was congratulated on her service to Bowls WA. Debbie noted to those in attendance how rewarding being part of the Bowls WA team had been for her and encouraged others to nominate for roles within Bowls WA especially those at Committee level which are important for the continued success of the sport.

Photo: Debbie Capper with Deputy President Doug Kelly

The positions of Patron and Vice Patron were confirmed pending notice from Government House on the continued patronage of the Governor the Honourable Kim Beazley AC. Vice Patron Norma Samuel who was in attendance confirmed her position saying she was very delighted to continue in the role.

No nominations for Life Membership were received by the board nor any Notices of Motion.

Items of General Business included one question from the floor regarding the promotion of the sport,  which Chair Doug Kelly confirmed Bowls WA and Bowls Australia were both actively engaged in. Bowls WA had committed to further spending on radio and digital marketing for the Gotta Love the Bowlo Campaign, in peak bowls periods. This has been strongly complemented by the Ambassadorship role of Brad Hogg who has been successful in helping shift the profile of the sport. Likewise, Bowls Australia had recently confirmed a commitment of over $600,000 in WA to advertising its national Local Legends campaign. It was hoped that clubs would be in a strong position to take advantage of these campaigns by supporting them locally to bolster membership and club patronage.

In closing Chairman Doug thanked all for their attendance and for their honest and open feedback and wished all clubs a very successful 2021/22 season.