Last month I spoke about access to our ranges and what it means to all of us, especially new shooters. I also mentioned change and the increasing rate of change, particularly around population growth and urban sprawl which can impact negatively on our ranges and access to hunting.
But change is also an opportunity. For example, last year we endured Covid lockdowns which brought about a huge uptake in digital communication, especially video conferencing which went from being a business tool to a community outlet for communicating with just about anyone. Last year’s SSAA National AGM was held by video conference as were our last two Board meetings, the constitution committee meets via video conference and most states and territories now use it to stage some if not all their Board meetings.
Some states are also using video to communicate with branch executives in a Q&A style of information exchange and, of course, we also use email to engage with our members. So what does this mean for the SSAA? Simply that members are more informed than ever on local, state and national issues in an almost real-time manner and this is a powerful real-time tool to add to our stable of magazines.
And the benefit of an informed and engaged membership is the subject of this column. We’re now more than 200,000 strong and while industrial and business groups lobbying government can have millions to spend on influence, we’re not that model. Our needs are better represented by the honesty and factual nature of advocacy – and our currency is our membership. To have successful advocacy we need engaged and informed members as communication is the most effective tool to keep you updated and maintain your engagement.
Our magazines are a strong tool for that engagement and information but in this world of rapid change, the inclusion of email, video conferencing and even SMS can target topical issues immediately and this will become one of our most powerful tools for successful advocacy and legislative action at both state and national level.
An example of how communication and engagement with members can generate political impact is the recent advocacy against the negative impacts of the proposed Criminal Use Bill in NSW. From the beginning of that campaign, members were contacted for input and this was used in preparing submissions. Regular membership updates on the progress of the SSAA (NSW) activities and future planning of the ongoing activities kept members informed and, when support was needed to sign an electronic petition to be presented to the NSW Parliament, our NSW members created the fastest Parliamentary Petition ever raised, achieving the required 20,000 signatures in just six days. Those recommendations have yet to be accepted by the NSW Parliament but given the power, speed and responsiveness of SSAA members in that state, it looks likely that logical amendments will be considered or the Bill scrapped altogether.
Another benefit of positive advocacy and communication is how these activities bring other firearms bodies together for a bigger united front. ‘Stronger Together’ was the catch-cry of that campaign and in the political advocacy space that’s an absolute truth. Our membership is the advocacy advantage of the SSAA whether you’re a target shooter, hunter or collector and keeping you informed and engaged is the responsibility of your state and national organisations to ensure we’re the most ready and responsive advocacy organisation in the firearms arena.
Membership of this Association provides you with incredible value for money but also offers a strong voice in advocacy for our sport and recreation. We are committed to keeping you informed.