Messages from the President

Leigh Radford OAM

JULY UPDATE

This update covers a number of matters from your Society.The first concerns re-opening plans for our Library and rooms. At present volunteers are able to gain access to our rooms, independent of the State Library’s current visitor quota and are counted effectively as ‘staff’. We’re waiting on further advice about relaxing of restrictions and are expecting things may become easier after July 20th. When this happens, we’ll provide more information. In the meantime we’re looking at plans for a staged re-opening of our Library from this week. Geoff Lemmey has kindly agreed to open the Library this Friday 10 July and Friday 17 July. Understandably our volunteers are concerned about using public transport and being exposed to the public in the Library, so we’ll let you know more as plans develop. You can find out more about the State Library’s opening here: https://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/state-library-reopening

We’re also looking for a new volunteer to help run the RGSSA office. This follows Alan Pickering stepping down recently and I thank Alan sincerely for all his valued work. The role involves dealing with matters as they arise, such as member and public inquiries, processing membership inquiries, dealing with mail/email and various other office management matters. You don’t need to be an expert in Society matters to work in this role. Often it’s about directing inquiries to others who do have more detailed knowledge. It’s also about being the welcoming public face of the Society, or often the first point of contact for people coming up to our rooms. This is currently a shared role with John Harris, and outside COVID-19 restrictions, involves being in the office for 4-5 hours once a week. We also now have the technology to enable many aspects of this role to be done from home. This is an important role for the Society and we’re hoping we may be able to find a new volunteer within our membership. Please contact Melissa Gibbs (mgibbs.adelaide@gmail.com) or myself (captainrural@gmail.com), if you have questions or interest in learning how to do this role.

I also draw your attention to our lecture series which is available on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR4niBHrvB4gM6A6KoUM-JQ

Several more lectures should be available here next week. Those videos include Carolyn Ireland delivering a lecture on the SA Dog Fence and the other is an interview with Fiona Simson, President of the National Farmers Federation. The Program Committee has done a great job of trying to provide planned lectures in this way and please do spread the word of their availability to anyone you feel may be interested to view them.

Finally I have been speaking with our patron, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia this week. There will be more in the next edition of GeoNews, but His Excellency asked me specifically to convey his very best wishes to all members of the Society and to let you know that he is looking forward to the next opportunity of meeting us face to face.

JUNE UPDATE

Library – Although the State Library is commencing limited opening, the Society’s Library will not be re-opening before 7 July.

AGM – The Society’s Council has developed a process to hold this year’s AGM online.  Foremost in the minds of Councillors has been how to ensure an AGM that will be fully compliant with the Society’s rules and as inclusive as possible.
The 2020 AGM be held on 25 June using Zoom. Preceding the AGM an online ballot will be held for Council positions. The timetable leading up to the AGM will be;
18-25 May Request for supplementary nominations. As per usual AGM practice a call for nominations for Office Holders was posted and/or emailed to members with the previous edition of GeoNews. Given the delay in being able to hold the AGM, due to COVID 19 restrictions, a further period for supplementary nominations was held from 18-25 May.
– 28 May – 4 June Nominations circulated to all members requesting any feedback (either positive or negative). The feedback was sought via Survey Monkey.
– 5-7 June Collation of feedback and preparation of voting survey. All feedback received will be collated and presented to members together with instructions for online voting via Survey Monkey.
– 8-22 June Voting -Two weeks will be allowed for members to record their vote.
– 23-24 June Counting and verification of votes (Returning Officer – Alan Pickering)
– 25 June AGM

This year’s AGM will mark a watershed moment in the Society’s history as we employ online methods to achieve an effective AGM in a timely manner, as required by the Society’s rules, in the face of COVID 19 restrictions. The methods being used this year will provide the opportunity for many members to participate who would otherwise not be able to. For example, members who live interstate or in regional areas of South Australia, or those who for other reasons are unable to travel to attend an AGM in person. We look forward to your cooperation and participation as we undertake this year’s AGM.

APRIL UPDATE

I’m writing briefly to let you know what’s happening within your Society during this period of forced closure and social isolation.  I have also recorded a brief message that can be viewed on the Society’s website.  

Council has been meeting to determine the best ways to engage with our valued members and to offer useful information wherever we can. We’re also speaking to our colleagues in Queensland and New South Wales, to share ideas and exchange information. As part of that, we’re looking at emulating a newsletter that RGSQ has started with their membership. Hopefully we’ll share something with you soon.

We’re also looking at the possibility of capturing some of our planned lectures as video presentations. Hopefully there will be news on that front in coming weeks and a chance for you to watch them at your leisure. We’re also exploring ways of sharing some of our planned Cook exhibition and to tap into some of the innovative things which other organisations are doing. There are also some ideas about producing other little videos of interest on different topics. We’d also welcome your input if you have any ideas or suggestions about what we can offer in the current circumstances.

April is usually a busy month for RGSSA with our annual awards and our AGM. Unfortunately the award ceremony at Government House had to be cancelled, but we will continue with the process of conferring awards, with a view to some form of presentation when things return to normal. The AGM is another challenge and we’re currently considering how we might proceed without a face to face meeting. It provided some contentious discussion at the April Council meeting and we have resolved to proceed with a Zoom (or video conference) meeting in the next few months. That will be proceeded by a postal ballot to all members, for all matters which need resolution by a formal vote. More details will be provided soon.

In the meantime, I wish you good health, all the very best in negotiating this period of isolation.  

MARCH UPDATE

I write to you on behalf of the Society’s Council, which held a special meeting on 16 March 2020, to consider our responsibilities in the current public health crisis with the COVID-19 virus.

A number of Australian states have now declared this a public health emergency and the circumstances and official advice to people is constantly changing, and becoming progressively more restrictive.

As a consequence, Council has decided unanimously to suspend all RGSSA activities which involve members until May, effective immediately.

To be clear, this means that our normal Lecture program, the Rare Book Discussion Group and any excursions are suspended immediately.

The Council also seeks to minimise any risks for our dedicated volunteers, and as such, the Library and the Office will be closed for public access from today (17 March 2020), for the same period.

Council has also resolved to delay the Society’s AGM for at least one month for the same reasons.

After consultation with Government House today the Awards ceremony on April 27th will not go ahead and will either be rescheduled, or possibly cancelled.

These decisions will be reviewed in mid-April and we’ll provide advice to members as things change. Wherever possible, we will attempt to reschedule activities once things return to normal, but due to factors beyond our control – like speaker availability – some activities may have to be cancelled completely.

Council is also strongly encouraging our valued volunteers not to come into the rooms to continue their work during this period of public closure. However wherever possible, we’ll collectively try to keep the wheels of the Society’s business turning as best we can.

The normal office email admin@rgssa.org.au will be functional and monitored throughout the period, so you can also communicate with us. All issues will be dealt with as best as we can under the circumstances.

We trust you will appreciate the duty of care which Council feels obliged to exercise in the current circumstances, to a membership which largely falls into the highest risk category. It is our desire to limit any risks to you, by ceasing all non-essential activities.

We will continue to communicate with you during this period and look forward to getting back to normal, as soon as possible after the COVID-19 threat passes.

As President, I wish you all well and encourage you to monitor and heed the changing medical and Government advice.