VNPA is calling for nominations for the Secretary role on Council. We take a moment with outgoing Secretary Michael Forster.
What is your history with VNPA?
I’ve been a VNPA member a number of years. I’ve always enjoyed outdoor activities and, like many, harboured a growing sense that the quality of many of our favourite natural places was at risk.
Before becoming Secretary, I always had an interest in what VNPA had to say on conservation matters – its views on issues seemed very grounded and informed by what needed to be done.
Why did you apply for the role of Secretary?
I wanted to learn more about our parks and reserves, and I thought that it was a role where I might be useful even though I had no obvious background related to VNPA’s affairs, such as in community campaigning, work in park agencies or study in a relevant discipline.
Tell us about the experience.
The main task as Secretary is to attend Council, Executive and various subcommittees and support their smooth running by recording, preparing and circulating minutes.
VNPA is very structured in its committee processes, which greatly helps the job of Secretary. But there are a wide range of items that flow through VNPA’s Committees. Each item may have its own mix of ecological, community, legal, and budgetary elements to be discussed or actioned.
Not everyone is excited by minutes! At times, the job of minuting a complex discussion and the actions arising can be frustrating. However, any voluntary Committee role has such moments.
I have gained a perspective on conservation in Victoria in different ways from the role. I have sat in on many discussions by experts that range from threats to local flora and fauna, parks funding, feral animals, sponsorships and budgets. It is difficult to summarise what I have learnt in a few words, but they have a direct connection to the national themes of habitat, biodiversity, climate change, and Indigenous ownership. And it has had a big influence on what I read, and where I go, and how I now view the country.
Why would you encourage others to apply for the role?
A lot of my working career was in economic policy and planning work in big bureaucracies, and retirement gave me the time and opportunity to further my interest in conservation policy.
However, I think the Secretary role also offers valuable experience for those at an earlier stage of their careers who may be seeking work in a related discipline. VNPA is a very effective organisation for its limited resources, and is a model for what can be achieved with motivated and experienced staff, a supporter base, strong governance, and a clear strategic purpose. There is a lot you can learn in the humble duties of Secretary in such an organisation!
If you think VNPA Council Secretary might be a role for you, please see more information here.