Meeting: 2012 AGM/Candidates/John Vandenberg

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Dear Members,

I started as president in 2010. My goal as President has been to ensure that Wikimedia Australia has cash to support innovative projects developed by our membership, and always obtaining over 50% of our funding from sources other than the Wikimedia Foundation in the United States. I believe that Wikimedia Australia needs to maintain that 50%+1 relationship with Wikimedia Foundation, otherwise the job security of our future staff is reliant on a single funding body, and our program activity is beholden to the whims of the Wikimedia Foundation, which is also a dynamic organisation.

On assuming office, Craig Franklin and I worked tirelessly to prepare Wikimedia Australia for being part of the 2010 Fundraising campaign as a direct recipient. We succeeded, and our reward was to work tirelessly for another two months to process the donations. That fund-raiser put money in the bank, and the State Library of Queensland banners built on our good relationship with the GLAM sector, and was the first time the general public learnt of Wikimedia Australia. This organisation is best known in Australia for our partnership with the State Library of Queensland. In 2010 and 2011 we have built on that relationship with the Regional Workshop program in regional Queensland.

In mid-late 2011 the Wikimedia Foundation unexpectedly decided to exclude Wikimedia Australia from receiving donations in the 2011 Fundraiser, despite the organisation having a signed agreement to be a donation recipient again, replacing it with a short-lived Annual Grants program where Wikimedia Foundation retained full control of the funding, and finally they developed the more acceptable approach of a community led Fundraising Dissemination Committee. This caused the Wikimedia Australia committee to focus our activity on positioning ourselves such that we could apply for large grants available from the Australian Government.

In 2011 Leigh Blackall brought Wikimedia Australia and the Australian Paralympic Committee together. Initially we were involved as an observer in their partnership with the University of Queensland and the University of Canberra. The University of Canberra was dropped from the partnership in the beginning of 2012, and Wikimedia Australia has increasingly taken a role in this project. By running workshops and the pilot of 'Wikimedians to the Games' the partnership has grown stronger and has culminated in all three partners agreeing to submitting an ARC linkage grant request. This is an important moment for Wikimedia Australia, and if successful it will be another opportunity for the Australian public to learn more about Wikimedia Australia. Like the State Library of Queensland, being associated with an internationally significant project related to disability sports reflects well on the organisation and our strength in diversity. We achieved this without funding from the Wikimedia Foundation.

In the 2013 Annual Plan, this 50%+1 objective was made easy by Wikimedia Australia still having $100,000 in the bank from the 2010 Annual Fundraiser. The 2013 Annual Plan being put forward at the AGM seeks only $290,000 of $655,000 from the Wikimedia Foundation. (44%) While the Funds Dissemination Committee has declined our applicaton for funding in round 1, we will be able to use our cash reserves to execute our Annual Plan and improve our application for funding in round 2.

The current committee has shown that by focusing our effort on a limited number of carefully selected projects we can develop partnerships that have the potential to bring in government funding via universities and the GLAM sector, and create a positive public image of the organisation.

Next year it will be more difficult to maintain this 50%+1 independence from the Wikimedia Foundation. The organisation will need to develop more partnerships where the partners see the benefit of significant co-contributions, apply for more grants, and develop a position on the 'if' and 'how' of undertaking our own fundraising (which chapters are permitted to do by the Wikimedia Foundation, but was strongly discouraged by some parts of the Wikimedia Foundation.)

In December 2012 we will be holding a languages workshop hosted by University of Indonesia, with academics and Wikimedians from Australia collaborating with Indonesians to launch Minang language Wikipedia and develop a strategy for collaboration between Australians and Indonesians to better support the Indonesian language Wikimedia projects. Attending are two academics who have strong ties into the Indigenous Australian community, and both are keen to find ways of applying what they learn at this workshop to build Wikimedia projects in the Indigenous Australian languages. The State Library of Queensland is also interested in how they could collaborate with us on non-English languages projects. Other State Libraries are interested in the regional workshop program and other initiatives that Wikimedia Australia has developed.

I have led a team that has brought us this far. I believe I can lead the organisation as it takes the next step towards professionalisation and self-reliance.

Thank you for your support, John Vandenberg

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