It’s been a productive year for the SSAA. Early in the calendar, we launched the Stewartdale Nature Refuge, an initiative between the Queensland Government and the SSAA to save diminishing habitat for koalas. We then launched our SSAA Academic Bursary program, which offers financial support to tertiary students whose studies aim to further the community’s understanding of conservation, hunting, recreational shooting and other related fields. We also encouraged active living for all abilities through our support of Boundless Canberra, the territory’s first playground, where children of all abilities will be able to participate on an even playing field, much like the sport of target shooting.
In April, we highlighted the Anzac Centenary with a series of articles on service arms and important remembrance organisations, and in May began trialling the use of Facebook for communicating with members and promoting the Association’s activities. Also in May, we welcomed the publication of The University of Queensland’s ‘Expenditure and motivation of Australian recreational hunters’ and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries’ ‘Estimating the economic impact of hunting in Victoria’ reports, which quantified something most recreational hunters already know – that hunters and hunting provide real benefits to the community and the economy.
In July and August, 29 Australian target shooters headed over to Glasgow to represent our country at the Commonwealth Games. Congratulations again to the team, who finished on top of the shooting medals table with their haul of six gold and two bronze medals. Congratulations also to the many SSAA members who took part in state, national and international championships this year. The SSAA now runs more than 16 disciplines and there really is something out there for shooters of all interests.
Following the rollout of SSAA Farmer Assist in Queensland last year, we have continued to expand our program, with member registrations now open in South Australia and Tasmania, and Western Australia preparing to be fully operational. We were pleased to see positive reporting on Farmer Assist on the ABC’s Landline in September and receive even more positive feedback from participating farmers and members.
We partnered with the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME), providing funding and assistance to the group to reintroduce western quoll to the South Australian Flinders Ranges and reduce the threat from feral cats, and we celebrated the 50th edition of our Australian Hunter magazine and released a collector’s DVD containing the first 50 editions.
Just recently, we hosted the 5th Pacific Regional Shooting Championships in Canberra, offering shoulder-to-shoulder competition between shooters from around the Pacific.
We reinvigorated our Membership office in Sydney, continued to see a great take-up of membership renewals through our website, and are now rewarding lifetime financial SSAA members with personalised satin stainless steel cards. We recently reached the fantastic milestone of 165,000 members, with more members joining every day, and we are preparing to announce some exciting new membership opportunities in the new year.
Perhaps the biggest fight of the year has been the ongoing Senate Inquiry into ‘The ability of Australian law enforcement authorities to eliminate gun-related violence in the community’. The issue began in June when Greens Senator Penny Wright established an inquiry to investigate ‘new measures’ to combat illegal firearms crime in Australia. We immediately saw through the Senator’s anti-gun bias, seeing the inquiry for what it was – a smokescreen attack on licensed, law-abiding shooters. We drafted a submission, sought your feedback for our response and have been relentless in providing evidence and attending public hearings to ensure your voice is heard and your freedoms protected.
At the time of publishing, we are preparing to submit further evidence to the committee before it hands down its report and recommendations on March 26, 2015. You can keep up to date on this issue via our website and Facebook page.
For now, have a safe and enjoyable festive season and summer, and we’ll be back in the new year with the February Australian Shooter.