The job of Executive Officer with the Broken Hill Chamber of Commerce is one of privilege and I thank the Board for providing me with the autonomy and flexibility to shift the focus of the Chamber from industrial and economic to a socio-economic model where we also work and play in a space that contributes to the social and cultural resilience of our community.
I returned to the role of Executive Officer in August 2013 after six month’s sojourn on a private project and have been reminded that it is not just the nuts and bolts of managing Chamber business that is important, but being present, available and of useful service to our members. The job requires a commitment not only to the paid hours but its voluntary component – being available to the Board and our members outside of office hours to ensure that we, as a group, manage our office and relationships effectively.
During the past 12 months we have taken time to reflect on what it is that we offer our members. With the changes to industrial law and local Chambers of Commerce no longer at the forefront of industrial change, we looked at our strengths and our opportunities to determine how we could meet our vision – to strengthen and grow our leadership position as the business and industry advocate for economic investment and development in Far West NSW.
With the Chamber representing every kind of business including trades, manufacturing, services, resources, transport, technology, accommodation, hospitality and retail, there has been an operational focus on developing relationships with the NSW Business Chamber, Fair Work Commission, WorkCover NSW and other relevant organisations to build the Chamber knowledge bank so that we can best support our members through information provision, educational opportunities and potential discounts and rebates.
The year was spent advocating for business on industrial issues, penalty rates, water, electricity and Council rates, entering into the agreement with the NSW Government to provide Small Business Advisory Services across Far West NSW and forming a partnership with the NSW Business Chamber to secure an extra suite of services to our members. As a result of our efforts we were named as a finalist in the Central West Orana Business Awards in the Best Local Chamber category and we have extended our office opening hours from four hours a day, four days a week to 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. The office is now a bustling business centre with all offices rented and members using the board room for meetings and workshops.
I would like to thank the Board for supporting my attendance at the Australian Women’s Local Government Conference which boosted my knowledge on women in management and trends in the workforce and for providing me with the flexibility to continue to grow and attend learning opportunities for my own private consultancy work. In this way, the Board is a very progressive, group recognising the value in taking an active interest in the health, well-being and growth of their employees. Thank you also to President Ann Rogers, Vice-President Paul Seager and Treasurer Sharon Hocking for their continued mentorship and guidance. All executives need a go-to team and this has been my go-to team this year.
Our next 12 months will focus on continuing to expand our membership and services, including building relationships with businesses in the Central Darling and Unincorporated areas of NSW. We will encourage the development of a unified voice for business and industry and build a collective business culture throughout Far West NSW to encourage investment, expansion and growth.
I am extremely excited about the 2014-2015 year as Broken Hill and Far West NSW embraces the wonderful opportunities that are on the table in the mining, tourism, community development and heritage sectors. We will continue to work towards our vision:
To build Chamber membership and capacity so it is recognised as the eminent business forum in Far West NSW giving members the opportunity to access opportunities, support services and exchange and develop views, perspectives and ideas.
Welcome to the 2014-2015 Year. I look forward to serving you for another 12 months.