From the President

Browse through this blog for the latest updates from the club president, including the monthly President's Report. 

As always, feel welcome to leave a comment on anything that grabs your attention.
  • 01 Jul 2011 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I was asked – indirectly – the other day what “we” did and, though I had to think for a moment before I answered (so as not to unduly offend), I knew that I was right when I reduced it to the fact that we were a “social network”.  Given that we are now nearly 50 years old, the term Social Network may jar both with those of our membership who assume we are a Club and with those of us, imbued with a more IT- and internet-literate view of the world, who will only consider Social Networking as something enabled by Facebook, Twitter & the rest of the milieu.

    The truth is somewhere in between.

    A Social Network, according to Wikipedia (who else would we look to for a post-modern definition), is defined as: a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations) called "nodes", which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.

    A Club, on the other hand (and here, we shall reverently revert to the OED as the Oxford Canadian Dictionary was closed in 2008) is defined as:

    • an association dedicated to a particular interest or activity,
    • the premises used by a particular club.
    • an organization offering members social amenities, meals, and temporary residence,
    • a commercial organization offering members special benefits,
    • a group of people or nations having something in common: the wild man of the movies refused to join the teetotal club.

    [FYI: No CAC officers were harmed in the making of the last example].

    The power of Social Networks has been much in the news of late, not just because of the pervasive effect of Social Networking Sites (SNS’s to those in the know) but also because of the success, and notoriety of the subject matter, of the recent movie, “The Social Network” and its subject, Facebook, and founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

    The original “Social Networks” were, however, the "Clubs": whether the Gentlemen’s Clubs of the 18th Century or the Working Mens’ Clubs of the 19th.  Working Men's Clubs developed in Britain during Victorian times (circa 1862) as institutes where working class men could attend lectures and take part in recreational pursuits.  Gentlemen’s Clubs preceded them as members-only private clubs of a type originally set up by and for British upper class men in the eighteenth century, and popularised by English upper-middle class men and women in the late nineteenth century.  Thankfully, we are neither of the above.

    We are all buffeted weekly, if not daily, by invitations to belong to groups, sites or premises offering club-like services.  In the end, I believe, a club is the sum of its constituents – uniquely bonded with a common goal, whether it be: global sporting domination, class-discriminated business networking (no papers or mobile phones, gentlemen!) or, in our case, a genuine wish to connect with our own and with those Australians who wish to connect with us for bonhomie, bonnes nuits ou les bonnes idées.

    We, at the Canadian Australian Club, a proud organisation now going well into its late 40s, are firmly of the belief that Networking is not a new term, being called Nice is not an insult and ‘Belonging’ is a positive.

    So, on this first Canada Day of the second decade of the third Millennium (calendar pedants, please send your corrections to the Editor of The Globe & Mail, not me!), may I wish you and all of your families - whether you can join us for our fabulous Canada Day 2011 festivities on Saturday in Sydney or not – a wonderful, peaceful and very proud Canada Day!

    Chris Warrick

    Proudly Canadian (1963) & Australian (2010)

  • 31 Jan 2011 7:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A new day, a new decade, a new dawn.   As I sit here in the relative cool of a Sydney morn – before the heatwave encroaches – and having just returned from an unseasonably green Christmas on The Rock in Canada, I am reminded how lucky we are to be where we’re from and live where we live.  A philosophical moment, perhaps – and I’m not one for poetic pauses – but true, nevertheless.

    As your new Acting President (more on which later), I paused to review a few of the past Members Voice articles and general news postings and was rewarded by the input.  Not only member-to-member thanks and broadcast notifications of where to find Clamato juice in the Emerald City, but also a small selection of links to surveys and international research which consistently point out that for Liveability, Sustainability and downright Desirability, Australia and Canada seem to annually win podium positions in the top tens.  Consistently, and hands-down, we are both without competitors in the number of top spots stakes.  Sydney may be sizzling – and, for housing, somewhat overheated – but, in general we live in, or hail from, lucky cities in lucky countries.

    Sydney Housing market finally cools!

    And so where better to “share the love” than with your fellow ex-pats and Canuck-ophiles at one of the many CAC events.  Come for a summer sail on the Pittwater, kick your shoes off for some Barefoot Bowling, break bread with family and friends at (Canadian!) Thanksgiving or help us raise the flag on Canada Day.  There were dozens of events last year – as in previous years – aimed at all interests and all ages.  Whether it is for those with littlies (like me), DINKies or valued veterans of the club (it has now been going for nearly 50 years), there is something for all tastes.  Which is all good.  And different.

    So how do you make the most of living in this wonderful city/ country clutching at least one, if not two, of the most desirable passports in the world (three, in my humble case!)?  Join in, join us, just do it.

    Join in at one or more of the regular events posted frequently on our site: most are open for members and their guests, a few – due to popularity – are restricted to members only.  Some – like our Monthly Mixers (1st Friday of every month) – are open to one and all.  Come and taste test.

    Join us.  Your committee is made up of like-minded volunteers who, like you, are probably busy with the minutiae – and mountains – of daily life but who manage to find a few hours each month to help steer the boat that is the CAC.  No previous experience is required, “all  training and tools” will be provided.   There are currently some openings on our team looking for a willing volunteer to put their hand up – if you are interested, come and talk to one of us at the Friday Mixers.   I promise you won’t have to go through an arduous state election to gain office.

    Just do it.  We are a committee and club of do-ers (otherwise we’d all be at home on the couch) but you don’t have to be a councillor or committee member to organise something.   Whether it’s Dragon Boat racing in Darling Harbour, a Bushwalk in the Blue Mountains or a Belly-dancing dinner on the Lower North Shore (where’s that?!), you don’t need to fill in forms in triplicate to do it.  We’ll help get it posted and assist managing the finances (if there ARE finances), all we need is your enthusiasm and your organisation.   Speak to the Events Manager or any of the Committee about how easy it is.

    As a relatively new member from 2009 (I was the first online member to go through the fancy new web registration process), I have been lucky enough to meet members new and old, work with – and on – the committees of the last two years (to whose members and officers, my thanks and the many thanks of the membership for all your hard work) and host the odd event.  I can assure you – in ROI terms – the rewards are worth all of the investment.

    Best wishes to all for 2011,

    Chris (W!)

  • 24 Dec 2010 4:20 PM | Anonymous
    The club held it's Christmas Party and Annual General Meeting recently and a new committee was elected.  Well, at least part of a new committee was elected.  As things currently stand, we do not have a president, a secretary and an events manager.  To not have these three key roles filled is very disappointing, and somewhat worrying for the club.

    Although I'm technically no longer the club president, I wanted to publicly say how personally disappointed I am that we find it so damn difficult to fill committee roles.  Over the last few years that I've been in this club, I've seen many of our members eager and willing to take part in the activities and events the club offers. I've seen people turn up to functions that have been organised by others and thoroughly enjoy them. I've heard some members make comments like we should do this or that, and express opinions about what they want to see happening in the club. I've even heard some members make the occasional complaint about things that the club has done or directions the club is taking. 

    As I said in my final President's Report, it takes a spirit of volunteerism to keep an organisation like this going strong.  To have an effective committee, it takes the goodwill and enthusiasm of a small group of people willing to contribute some of their time and energy so that the larger group of people has something worth belonging to. 

    Unfortunately, at the AGM, the people willing to stick their hand up and volunteer their time and energy were the usual suspects. At one point we did not even have a quorum to hold the meeting. The small number of members who actually turned up for the AGM meant that the pressure to fill positions was on the same handful of people who are always volunteering.  I found this very disappointing, and it was made even more disappointing by the significant number of people who turned up later for the Christmas Party... making it obvious that the few acting for the many is far more than just a metaphor.

    You can find the complete list of new committee members on the website. You'll see that the president, secretary and events manager roles are not filled, although, again, the usual suspects have stepped up to fill the roles temporarily. 

    I hope we manage to find a few generous people to step up in the next couple of months and fill these roles, or the club will have an awkward 2011.

    Chris Betcher
  • 02 Dec 2010 6:53 AM | Anonymous
    I'm writing this on the morning before tonight's Annual General Meeting and Christmas Party, and it's my final report as president of the club. After two years as president, I feel it's time to step down and let someone else have a go at the job.  It's been good to do the job... sometimes it meant a bit of work that required doing, and sometimes it's been a lot of fun... but mostly it's been rewarding.

    At tonight's meeting we will be electing a new committee. A new group of people to keep the club moving forward for the next 12 months. A new group of volunteers.

    Volunteerism, where you get involved in a club or other organisation to help it operate, is an important thing to do. Giving up some time and energy to help do something for others, getting involved in something that doesn't necessarily pay you for your time but rewards you in so many other ways, is an important thing to do.  I'm sure I can speak for not only myself but everyone else on the committee when I say that it hasn't always been convenient, there have been many moments of frustration, and we haven't always followed through on everything we'd intended to do. Sometimes that's just the nature of being on a committee and working in a volunteer role. Despite all that, life still goes on, and the club has moved forward.  I'm sure that what we can say is that despite those challenges, being part of the committee has still been a rewarding and enjoyable thing to be part of.

    Volunteering for roles such as the committee, for this club or any other club, requires a giving spirit and a desire to want to be involved. Everyone on the committee is a busy person with many other responsibilities in their lives.  There's a saying that goes "If you want something done, give it to a busy person", and I've always found it to be true.  It's funny how the people who have lots of time on their hands generally don't get involved in extra activities, but the ones that have busy jobs, busy lives and lots going on always seem to be the ones that take on the extra responsibilities of things like volunteer committees.

    I'd like to offer an enormous vote of thanks to those who have served on the CAC committee this year. It's been a busy year, and although we started the year with a number of grand goals and ideals that perhaps didn't all happen, there were still a great many good things that did. Canada Day and Thanksgiving were as special as always, there was the sailing day, the restaurant nights, the wine nights, the social days out, and so on. Membership of the club continues to grow, and the people in the club continue to enjoy the benefits of being a member. Life is good.

    Can we improve? Of course, everything can be improved, and that's just part of the task for next year's committee. Take what we have now, build on it, and continue to improve it. Fine tune those things that can be fine tuned, add new initiatives, change those that aren't working... keep moving the club forward. That's what progress is all about.

    The committee are an important group of people because they are the ones that make things happen in this club. They plan and manage the events.  They come up with ideas to make things better.  They manage money, speak to advertisers, run the website, write articles, take photos, buy gifts, organise raffles, make decorations, book restaurants, organise food, greet people, make decisions, attend meetings... without someone doing those things, the club just grinds to a halt. Someone has to do these things, because they certainly do not "just happen".

    But I must point something out.  Very few of us are experts in these things. None of us has lots of "spare time". None of us are looking for "something to do" because we're bored. The committee is just a group of members - members like you and I - who are prepared to give just a little of their time and energy and creativity in order to make the club experience better for everyone. 

    If you want to experience more from this club, I'd encourage you to think about taking on a committee role. The difference between being a member and being a committee member is enormous, and trust me when I say that you will get so much more out of the club as you start to put more into it. Being on the committee, in many ways, is like being "on the inside" and where you really start to understand what exactly we do here. It's important that someone steps up to that responsibility of being part of the committee.

    The question is, will it be you?
  • 24 Aug 2010 5:43 PM | Anonymous
    August. Seriously, where does the time go?  I've been travelling a lot lately, and it seems like I just get a weekend to myself and I'm heading off somewhere else to another conference somewhere.  Don't get me wrong, it's been fun, but it has caused me to lose track of things a little, as well as causing me to miss a few of the club's recent events.  The next few months look just as crazy with trips to China, Vietnam and New Zealand, but what do you do?  Someone has to do it!

    On the homefront though, it seems that the club has been progressing quite nicely thank you very much.  Canada Day had a great turnout and I think we all had a terrific time.  It was good to see so many club members there enjoying themselves, having fun, socialising.  The weather was perfect and the venue was spectacular.  A huge, huge thank you needs to go out to Sarah, Alan, Chris, Kathleen, Pam... oh dear, I've started mentioning names... there were no doubt many others who helped plan the day so my apologies if I can't recall everyone who was responsible.  You all did a fabulous job.

    There have been a few other well attended events - all of which I was out of town for, so I cannot, unfortunately, relay any personal experiences from them.  However, I'm told the Canadian Film Festival night, the Mudgee Food and Wine Festival, and the SpecTAPular Canadian Beer Festival were all well attended by members.  If you were there, we'd love to hear some stories!  Put them in the Events Reports.

    Communications in a club like this is important, and as you know we have made a lot of changes in this area in the last 18 months.  The move to the new website (though it's not really "new" anymore) was a good move to bring all our resources into one place.  I think most people would agree that the site has streamlined a lot of club business, centralised our information, and it has certainly made the process of managing memberships and events much, much better.

    One casualty of this move was the longstanding club newsletter. Originally paper based and then later moved to PDF format, the newsletter was a labour of love for our editor Brenda (Though I suspect there was a lot more labour than love!)  It was hard work, time consuming, and took a lot of effort o make happen each month. As we moved all the club information to the website - events, stories, reports, photos - it made the production of a "mail out" newsletter a bit redundant. All the information that was painstakingly added to the newsletter each month was mostly already available on the website.  Consequently, the newsletter got the axe.

    One thing that is becoming apparent is that, although the important information is certainly available online, in the general busy-ness of life, people don't always take the time to go look there.  We have email reminders go out for events, and that's great, but a lot of the other stuff - details about special deals for members, event reports, Club news, even the President's Report - was getting overlooked.  Many members have said that they like the idea of a newsletter each month.

    So we are bringing the newsletter back.  Sort of.  We will be launching a new monthly newsletter very soon that will be automatically created from the news, stories and reports on the website.  You'll get a short summary of each article, along with a link to the website so you can read the whole thing if you choose.  It will go out each month and should hopefully keep a better flow of information between the members and the club.

    We are also going to have a little competition soon to try and increase our member base.  Stay tuned for more information on that one!  Details very soon.

    Till next time,

    Chris
  • 29 May 2010 9:50 AM | Anonymous
    Hello and G'day.

    As the end of May approaches and the weather starts to turn cooler (yes, I know, I can hear all the real Canadians chuckling as I say that), it's time to think about some of the indoor activities that the club runs at this time of year.  Wine nights, movie nights, restaurant night, and of course the annual Canada Day celebrations. If you take a peek at the club calendar you'll see that many of these things are coming up soon.  Of course, it doesn't really matter how many or what type of events we run if no one attends them, so head on over to the event registration page now and put your name down for something.

    For those who were in the club around this time last year, you may recall what a terrific day we had for Canada Day. It was held on the old South Steyne ferry at Darling Harbour and everyone had a great time.  This year's event promises to be just as fabulous, and again we will celebrate by the water at the beautiful Drummoyne Sailing Club (just near Birkenhead Point)  There is a Canada Day sub committee working on putting the event together right now and it's shaping up to another excellent celebration.  We hope to see as many of you as possible there!

    Speaking of going out for a good time, thanks to Kathleen we are also offering the Entertainment Books for sale again this year. The Entertainment Books cost $60 or 65 (depending on the area you get) and are chock-full of vouchers, coupons and discounts for literally hundreds of establishments around town.  There are lots of 2 for 1 offers, as well as significant discounts at restaurants, movies, attractions and many other vendors around the city.  Linda and I bought one last year and for our $65 cost we estimate we saved well over $600 over the course of the year! Naturally we've ordered another one for this year.

    Sale of the books is also a great fundraiser for the club, as well as offering you quite major savings.  It's a win-win deal, and I hope all club members take part in it. The books are available at the monthly mixer each month, but you can also preorder your copy by going to the Coming Events list and putting your name down for one there... any books ordered online can be picked up at the mixer.  Too easy!

    We also have a new advertiser on board with us starting in June, and we think it's going to offer some great value to members. OzForex is a company that specialises in foreign exchange transactions. As Canadians living in Australia, I'm sure there must be times that you need a way to move money back and forth between both countries - in fact I know that's a need because we get emails from people asking about it quite often. OxForex  can look after all of these needs, and if you're a club member there is an added benefit... no transaction fees on your first two transactions!  That's a great deal. For more information about OzForex and what they can offer members, please make sure you check out the Sponsors link on the front page of the website.

    As always, there is plenty going on, but we all need to remember that any social club is only as active as the people in it.  Personally, I'd like to see even MORE activities and events taking place, but we can only do whatever our members are willing to offer to do.  Here's a great example... One of our members, Barbara Glover, wanted to go see the new Sex and the City movie with a few friends, so she listed it on the club website as an event. She was going to go see the movie ANYWAY, but now she has a fun bunch of people to go with.  It really is that simple to arrange an event, and if you are looking for buddies to do something with, then simply adding it to the club events list is a great way to do it.  So if you're planning a day at the zoo, or want to go on a bushwalk or bike ride, or a night out at that new restaurant you've been keen to try, or pretty much anything really, and you'd like a few friends to share it with, just let Sarah our events organiser know and we can list it on the site.

    See you at an event soon!

    Chris Betcher
    President
  • 07 Apr 2010 3:21 PM | Anonymous
    April!  What?  Where does the time go?

    It's been a busy time for me personally as I've been doing a lot of travelling for the last few months.  Between being interstate and overseas almost every second weekend, things have been a little hectic!  My apologies for my tardiness!

    However, life in the Canadian Australian Club goes on. And speaking of Canada, what an amazing job Vancouver did with the Winter Olympics!  I loved the creativity and passion of the opening ceremony and the chance to see athletes performing at the top of their game.  It was great to see such wonderful performances from both the Canadians and the Australians - I think both countries had their most successful winter games results ever, so congratulations all around!  Although I'm not Canadian myself, I certainly saw the pride in Linda's eyes every time we watched her country shine.  Canada, you done good!  And how about those hockey results, eh?  Both the mens and the womens teams earning gold and taking their rightful places as the best in the world. Well done!

    There have been a few special deals for members lately that can potentially save you a little or a lot of money.  Air Canada had a special price for flights to Vancouver of $1660 (although you did have to travel on Christmas day!) and there were other deals like reduced price tickets to the Easter Show.   These sorts of deals do come along occasionally and we don't always get much advance notice, so keep your eye on the news feeds on the front page of the club website.  If it's something really substantial like saving hundreds of dollars on an airfare then we will send it out in an email to all members, but for the smaller stuff you just need to keep an eye on the website.

    While we are on the subject of communications, Linda our Content Manager has decided to put out a quarterly email newsletter, just to keep you in the loop.  It mostly links back to the club website (since that's really where all the news and events are kept anyway), but it aims to flag a few of the current club happenings to you.  The first one went out last week.

    Finally, there are plenty of events in the planning at the moment, so keep an eye on the site to see what's coming up.  Register for anything that grabs you... trust me there will be something for everyone!  And of course, you're always welcome to suggest events too.  Just let Sarah, our Events Coordinator, know what you want.

    Ok, that's it for now!  I'll try to be a little more diligent in writing here each month.  See you on a club event very soon!

    Chris Betcher
  • 05 Dec 2009 11:42 AM | Anonymous
    So here we are at the end of yet another great year for the Canadian Australian Club.  It's been a year of significant change I feel, as we have rethought, redesigned and remade some of the "engine" that keeps our club ticking along.  The move to the new website earlier this year has had major implications (in a good way I hope) on how our club operates on a day to day basis.  We've streamlined many of our internal processes, tried to simplify both the experience for members and the workload for the committee, and if the turnout at recent club events is anything to go by, I feel we are on the right track.

    There were casualities along the way of course, and no doubt some members will still wish we were producing a paper newsletter but the economics of time and money required to do so when the website can provide all the same information faster just made it a little redundant. As of the new year, there will no longer be a monthly newsletter, either in paper or PDF form.  All you need to know regarding news, events and updates will be available directly on the club website by logging in as a member.

    With the changes that were wrought over the past year, we had a long hard think (and a spirited debate) about our club constitution.  It was outdated in some areas, and simply needed to be brought into the reality of the way the club runs. Consequently, at the most recent AGM, those present voted on, and approved, the suggested changes.  In this process, some new committee positions were created, some were removed completely, and we think the new constitution is a pretty good reflection of reality for us.  We are just getting it into a form for online use and the new constitution will be posted on this site very soon.

    Another change is an increase in fees.  As unpopular as fee increases are, it appears that the cost of being a member of the club has been static for, well, as long as any of us could remember.  It's unclear exactly when the last fee increase was, but it was apparently a long time ago. It was decided almost unanimously that a fee increase was long overdue, and so as of January 1 the cost of membership for the Canadian Australian Club will rise by $10 each to now be...
    • 12 month Single Membership - $35
    • 12 month Family Membership - $45
    As much as we all dislike fee increases, it was felt by nearly everyone that such an increase was both overdue and reasonable.

    At that same AGM, the new committee was also elected, and it's one I'm very much looking forward to working with over the coming year.  It is...
    • President - Chris Betcher
    • Secretary - Pam Trudel
    • Treasurer - Chris Warrick
    • Membership - Lenora Carney
    • Events - Sarah Hatfield
    • Content Manager - Linda Johannesson
    • Advertising - Alex Kijurina
    • Website - Chris Betcher
    • Councillors - Bonnie Lovelace, Barbara Glover, Allan Psaila, Kathleen Ryan, Ami Seymour and Craig Kokay.
    It's a great group of people to be working with, with a good mix of experience and fresh ideas.  You can get more info and find out about these people here.

    A special thanks needs to go to the Christmas Party subcommittee, who did an amazing job of putting together the club Christmas Party last Friday night. As well as making the Christmas snacks, collecting and wrapping gifts for all comers, organising food and everything else that happens behind the scenes, they also arranged for the club to make a charitable donation to 4 different Childrens' Charities.  A special mention must go to Frank Yong, who is technically not a club member as he is a Canadian only visiting Sydney for a short time, but who put a ton of effort into organising the charity donation project.  Thanks to the dedicated efforts of not just Frank, but the whole Christmas Committee, we raised well over $600 for kids in need both here in Australia and in Canada as well.  It's great effort, and a special thank you to everyone who helped make that happen!  Well done, it's nice to see that the Canadian Australian Club truly does live up to that age-old cliche about Christmas being "a time for giving".  On Friday night, many of you showed that you do more than just talk about giving to others, you actually do it.

    If you were unable to attend the Christmas Party, but would still like to make a donation to the Childrens' Charities, you can make a donation through the club website.  We will pass on your donations to the charity you nominate.

    Until next time, have a happy, safe and peaceful Christmas.

    Chris


  • 01 Oct 2009 12:12 PM | Anonymous
    G'day.

    How time flies!  It's almost Thanksgiving, Halloween is just around the corner, and the club's AGM is coming up fast!  Where has this year gone?

    This will be a quick president's report this month. I've been travelling a fair bit lately, presenting at a number of edtech conferences here and in New Zealand.  I was in Auckland last week, and am heading off to Christchurch next week.  On my return, Linda and I are moving into a new house we just bought.  So it's all been a bit crazy lately...  my apologies if I've been a bit tardy in getting things done or replying to emails, etc.

    So, back to club business...  Are you all registered for Thanksgiving?  It's one of the major events on the club's calendar each year, with a traditional dinner, complete with turkey and pumpkin pie, along with Canadian trivia and games for the kids.  Numbers are looking very healthy, but there is plenty of space at this venue so if you still want to join us there is room.  Just register and pay through the website.

    I haven't seen the details yet, but I believe there is a Halloween event planned too.  Take a look through the website or the newsletter for more info.

    Finally, the club's Annual General Meeting is coming up at the November Mixer.  This is a chance to wrap up the year and elect a new committee to run the club for another 12 months.  There are also a few proposed changes to the committee that we'd like your thoughts on, so please come along to the meeting and have your say.  It would be nice to see as many members as possible come out for the AGM and to hang about afterwards for the Monthly Mixer.  Details on the website.

    Speaking of the website, we've been tracking the site's statistics over the last few months and seeing how many hits it gets.  The overall numbers are very healthy - 2,348 visits in the last 30 days from 340 Unique IP addresses. Based on the number of hits we're getting, it appears that most members are now accessing important information about events and news directly from the website.  While this is great news, the downside is that the number of people who bother to access the official club newsletter (in PDF format) from the website has been very low.  Given the amount of time and energy it takes to produce the newsletter, combined with the apparent lack of enthusiasm for accessing it in PDF format, I think it's fair to say that the end is probably near for the newsletter as we know it.  The website has become the primary way that members get their information these days, so you'll probably see the newsletter disappear over the next few months. 

    If you want to have a say on this, please use the Add Comment link below, or have your say in the members' forum area of the website.

    Till next month,

    Chris Betcher
  • 25 Aug 2009 11:47 PM | Anonymous
    It’s been another busy month! The Canadian Film Festival took place this month and the club had a great turnout to see a group showing of “One Week”, a powerful film that looks at life and what it means to be alive.  I heard it was terrific.  I say “I heard it” because I was unable to actually attend the screening due to another prior commitment, but Linda went along and gave me a great film review later that evening.  I also got invitations to see other films in the film festival (courtesy of the Canadian Consulate) but again, I seemed to have something on that prevented me from attending either of them.  The tickets did not go to waste however, and were offered to other members of the executive committee who could attend, and I’m sure they enjoyed the films they saw.

    The Canadian Australian Club is definitely a great contact point for the Canadian community in Sydney, especially now that we have developed some real “Google Juice”.  A Google search using the terms “canadian australian club” or “canadian club sydney” currently sees us coming up as the number one search result.  Getting on the front page of the Google search results is incredibly valuable, especially when you get the number one spot using such obvious search terms.  This steady rise in web visibility has helped attract even more attention to our club, with a steady stream of new members coming via the website… for a while there we averaged almost a new member a day!  Our club is certainly growing!

    This improved web visibility also means I receive regular emails from random Canadians - both here and in Canada -  asking questions about life in Sydney.  Our club is seen as somewhat of an authority on how to live as a Canadian in Sydney.  In the last month I’ve received questions from people about setting up an Australian bank account, gotten suggestions for getting Canadian taxes done, had offers of tickets to Francophone performances, had requests for membership applications and messages from the Consulate. When you stop and think about it, our club is probably one of the best sources in Australia for anyone wanting information about living away from Canada, so it’s no surprise that people would turn to us when they want good suggestions.  Most of our members have plenty of real life experience to share, and some good stories too!

    Of course, all that experience can only have an effect if we have a way to share it.  The best way to do this is to get on a club event, talk to other members, and share your stories.  That’s what makes the difference.  I can tell you from first hand experience of living with an occasionally homesick Canadian, nothing cheers her up more than a chance to hang out with her peeps! Swapping Canada stories, asking questions of other Canadians who have lived here for a while, and of course talking about the weather… it all helps ease the pain of being so far from home.  

    There is also a place on the website to share stories and ask questions.  The members section of the website has a easy-to-use discussion forum where you can go to leave messages, offer advice or just strike up a conversation.  If you have a question, the discussion forum is a great place to ask it; and if you know the answer, the discussion forum is a great place to helpfully offer it.  If you haven’t been into the forums, take a few minutes to check them out.  The more conversation going on, the more sharing we experience and the more likely we are to make connections with other people.

    Before I finish, I want to thank Lenora Carney for taking over the membership role from Tom and Lou Ikeda, who had to step down for various reasons.  Lenora used to be our website person so it’s good to have her back on deck to help out with the nuts and bolts of running of the club.  And it doesn't get more "nuts and bolts" than managing our members database.  Welcome back Lenora.

    Speaking of running the club, don’t forget the committee elections are coming up in a few months, so give some thought to being part of the executive team for 2010.  It’s good to have some new blood in an organisation every now and then…  you don’t need a whole lot of experience, just a willingness to get involved and help make things happen.  Who knows, you might even like it! And I can certainly tell you from experience that the real core of what goes on in the club goes on within the executive committee.  That's where the real action is! 

    Hope to see you on an outing soon!

    Chris
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