15 February 2019
Recently an email from the Alliance for Gambling Reform has been circulated, expressing their opposition to the ALGWA National Conference being held next to a pokies venue, and suggesting a boycott of the event.
The ALGWA National branch, like Victoria and other State branches, are membership based voluntary organizations long dedicated to the support of women in local government and receive no government funding.
The National conference is held every two years and each State is encouraged to host the event. It is an opportunity for people across the country to gather, network, learn and discuss ideas. Two years ago the conference was in Tasmania and four years ago in South Australia. In 2017 NSW was awarded the conference and in turn selected Blacktown as the host municipality.
In Victoria, ALGWA has held an annual conference for more than 50 years, generously supported and sponsored by a local government municipality. The conference venues have not been associated with pokies or gambling venues. However, our conference selection criteria does not state that the venue must not be associated with gambling. Neither is it in the selection criteria for the National organization.
There are differences in each of the States, which is why it is great to get together every two years and learn what is happening elsewhere and explain the wonderful things happening in our own State. If you do choose to attend the conference, there would be the opportunity to talk directly to interstate Councillors about what local government in Victoria is doing to discourage gambling and urge them to take similar action. We have done something similar in the past with Family Violence leave as part of Council staff entitlements. As you know this is something which Victoria has led. After explaining what Victorian Councils were doing and the benefits, ALGWA NSW passed a motion at its annual general meeting and now a large number of NSW Councils also have Family Violence leave. But without that dialogue, it would not have happened.
There would also be the opportunity at the conference to propose a motion that the criteria for future National Conferences include a ban on holding it in or next to a gambling venue.