As another year draws to a close, I am reflecting on the year that was. While there were many trials across the wider industry, SSAA Victoria had some noteworthy successes.
Twenty-seventeen began with the very upsetting release of the National Firearms Agreement 2017 in February. It was released without fanfare on a Sunday. The Commonwealth Government appeared not to have considered feedback from the firearms industry when developing the document.
The months that ensued involved our lobbying government and regular industry meetings to develop a strategy which would prevent firearm law changes at a state level. The recent release of the Victorian Firearms Amendment Act suggests we were successful in some areas.
As an Association, the highlight of the year would have to have been the purchase of the Springvale Range, after leasing the property for more than 40 years. It came as a huge surprise to some people, who thought it would never happen. We were able to celebrate the purchase in August with members, visitors and local VIPs. It was an honour to have Honorary Life Member Robbie O’Neill, who has been part of the Association since its early days, at that celebration.
Another highlight was seeing the State Government’s Shooting Sports Facilities Program grant works near completion. More than $600,000 has now been spent at our ranges, thanks to those grants and our own contributions. All works are due for completion by the end of the year.
We inducted new Directors to the Board in October. They included our first female Director in five years, Marion Barnes. We have long been focused on increasing female participation in the shooting sports and having a woman in a leadership position of the Association will encourage more women to get involved. Prior to joining the Board, Marion increased female participation at the Shepparton Branch through several events. We are confident she will support the State Office in achieving similar results.
So, as you all wind down for the year and take off on your Christmas breaks, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support of SSAA Victoria. If you are hunting over summer, be on the lookout for snakes, and report any illegal activity. If you are travelling, be safe on the roads and consider dropping into a shooting range you have not yet visited.
Most importantly, have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.