Meeting:2019 AGM/President's Report

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It has been an important year of maturity for Wikimedia Australia as we move into our second decade as a chapter.

At our first Community Conference held in Sydney on 15 June this year, we reflected on our growth as a community and as a chapter. There is a sense that we have moved out of the early years and childhood stages, and are ‘growing up’ to be more accountable to each other and focused on our common purpose. That purpose remains to:

promote equality of opportunity to access and participate in the collaborative creation of Free Cultural Works, especially educational works, and works about Australia, its culture, natural environment, and Australian news and media

We are also contributing and engaging actively in our region and globally.

For rising to and meeting the challenges of our purpose, I pay tribute to all in the Australian Wikimedia community, and particularly to the hard-work of the Wikimedia Australia committee.

Committee of management

At the AGM in October 2018 we came to the meeting with only 5 out of the 8 committee positions filled, and were grateful that Caddie Brain and Julian Singh agreed to be nominated at the AGM, and that Steve Crossin filled a vacancy post-AGM to give us a full committee. We thank Julian for his interest given a very busy schedule, and for his excellent facilitation of the June face-to-face committee meeting.

The financial management of the chapter is a crucial and demanding role and Robert Myers has done an outstanding job as Treasurer in the past three years. This year he successfully executed the additional grant-related reporting requirements. Thank you for this work Robert, and we are pleased that having put all this in order, he is turning his attention to the equally important role of Secretary.

Tom Hogarth joined the committee in November 2015 and took over as Secretary in October 2016. This is a critical role for the organisation touching all aspects of the committee including governance, membership, reporting, communication and meetings, not the least of which is managing the AGM. We appreciate all the work he has done categorising pages on the chapter and committee wikis to help us find things, as well as the advice and heads up he provides for the committee to consider. Tom also took on the strategy liaison role for Wikimedia Australia during the Wikimedia 2030 Strategy process. Thank you, Tom for your active engagement in the committee over the past four years, and we wish you well in all your ongoing Wikimedia and wider activities.

It is difficult to sum up the impact that Gideon Digby has had in our chapter - it really needs a separate report. Gideon was an observer on the committee in 2009, and has spent four of the past six years as Vice-President, and served two terms as President, as well as taking on chief media contact. He has initiated many of the activities and priorities the chapter has been part of in recent years, and was instrumental in preparing the ground for our successful Simple Annual Plan Grants from the Wikimedia Foundation in 2018. He has been a mentor to many on the committee and beyond. Gideon, there is a real sense of occasion as we say farewell after so long. We appreciate the experience and the commitment you have provided us, and your willingness to share your knowledge. Enjoy some well-deserved time to focus on the things you want to do, and we wish you plenty of energy for new challenges locally and beyond.

Other members of the committee have taken on much needed additional roles. Many thanks to Sam Wilson for ongoing work on improving our technical infrastructure, and support for supporting the loading of content to the wiki. Reporting and communication with members are ongoing priorities, and Caddie Brain and Steve Crossin have assisted with this.

The workload for the committee this year has involved twice monthly online meetings for 1.5 hours, as well as working on administration and projects between meetings. This is a significant commitment that takes committee members away from family and other duties, so we acknowledge all those who support committee members. There is a serious challenge for the incoming committee to work smarter and share the load.

The good news is that at this year’s AGM the Committee positions are all filled prior to the meeting, and we welcome three new members: Alex Lum, Jacinta Sutton and Matt Moore. Thank you for stepping up and we look forward to your contribution to the next stage of Wikimedia Australia’s growth.

Strategic planning

Wikimedia Australia held two face-to-face strategic workshops in 2018-19 as we worked to synchronise our work with the annual grant timelines. In November 2018, the committee met in Melbourne with Asaf Bartov from the Wikimedia Foundation’s Community Engagement team to establish priorities for the capacity building and our next strategic plan. In June 2019 we met following the Community Conference to consider our progress, synthesise learnings from the past year, and plan for the next 12 months. Major work related to developing a membership and donor strategy.

Simple Annual Plan Grant 2018-19 Annual Report

At last year’s AGM we were celebrating our first Simple Annual Plan Grant. We are pleased to report that we successfully achieved most of the activity planned for in this grant period. We learned a lot about organising and planning activities, and about record keeping. We navigated the same process for 2019-20 presenting a consolidation plan and receiving a similar amount of AUD$37,125 for the period 1 July 2019 – 30 June 2020, with reporting commitments in January and July 2020. This grant funds the recurrent costs of chapter governance as well as supporting our goal of better communication with members and the community.

There are two overall programs funded:

  1. Community Support: To support and strengthen the engagement of the Wikimedia community in Australia; to increase the diversity of participants participating in online and face to face activities, in terms of gender, region, language, and topics/sectors of interest; and to build community capacity.
  2. Outreach and Engagement: Increase awareness and participation of new individuals and organisations; establishment of two new collaborative partnerships; and participation in global content competitions and wide promotion in Australia.

One of the reasons for moving the Wikimedia Australia AGM forward from October to August is to coordinate and simplify reporting requirements. Members are directed to the Annual Report for 2018-19 for full details of the activities undertaken across Australia in the term of this committee. The following is a succinct summary of some of that activity.

Community support

The Wikimedia Australia events archive for the period July 2018 – June 2019 records 27 community support events planned and advertised by Australian editing communities. These include Meetups, WikiClubs and organisation-based editing communities in Australia that meet on a semi-regular basis. A highlight was our Community Conference held in June.

WikiClubs and Meetups

Three WikiClubs met during the year: WikiClubNT in Tennant Creek, QWiki at State Library Queensland, and WikiClubWest in Western Australia.

Meetups were held in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney.

Volunteer Support Programme

Members of Wikimedia Australia are invited to submit requests for small grants to fund volunteer activity in line with our goals. This year’s recipients presented at an International Digital Curation Conference, photographed the Avalon Air Show, and travelled to present at the Worlds of Wikimedia and Wikimedia Australia Community conferences.

Outreach and engagement

Outreach to the wider Australian population is a priority in order to increase engagement in Wikimedia projects. Wikimedia Australia seeks to increase the number of people who know about Wikipedia, who understand how it works and who are attracted to contributing. Specific target audiences included educators, the GLAM sector, and rural and Indigenous communities.

The Wiki Loves Earth and Wiki Loves Monuments content competitions continue to be a great source of quality photographs as well as building awareness of Wikimedia.

We received five requests to provide a speaker or trainer at GLAM and education events. At least 108 new accounts were created by participants in outreach events during the year. These included involvement in campaigns including #1Lib1Ref and Art+Feminism, as well as university-based edit-a-thons, Open Access Week and International Museums Day.

A highlight of the year was the Worlds of Wikimedia Conference held in partnership with The University of Sydney. The theme of ‘communicating and collaborating across languages and cultures’ highlighted work in Indigenous languages, in particular Noongarpedia. This conference provided an excellent showcase of the breadth of Wikipedia work happening in Australia, as well as connecting us to key international speakers.

Engaging in the regional and global community

There has been a great deal of constructive activity with the wider Wikimedia movement through this year.

As well as the Wikimedia Summit in Berlin, which I attended on behalf of the chapter, Robert Myers attended Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town on our behalf, and Ingrid Cumming presented at Wikimania 2019 in Stockholm last week. Tom Hogarth volunteered as a global strategy liaison. We had three delegates attend the ESEAP conference in Bali in 2018, and two delegates at the ESEAP Strategy event in Bangkok in late June. Robert Myers and Gideon Digby are on the committee for ESEAP Wikimania 2020 in Bangkok.

We also maintain connection with Australians active in thematic User Group committees, in particular Mylee Joseph on the Wikimedia and Libraries User Group committee, and Thomas Shafee of the WikiJournal User Group.

Looking ahead

There are several exciting initiatives already on the agenda for 2019-20.

Wikimedia Strategy 2020 recommendations

After the extensive global strategy process, the working groups have released their draft recommendations. Discussion and feedback on these recommendations is due in September.

Art+Feminism #KnowMyName campaign

Caddie Brain, Ann Reynolds and Margaret Donald are working on a campaign with the National Gallery to feature Australian women artists in their collection, and women artists and editors nationally.

ESEAP’s 2020 Wikimania in Bangkok

Wikimedia Australia is one of the organising chapters for Wikimania 2020, to be held in Bangkok, Thailand.

Wiki Loves Monuments, September 2019

A reminder that Wiki Loves Monuments starts on 1 September and runs for the month.


Thank you to everyone involved in helping achieve this impressive program of community support and outreach, and I look forward with confidence that we will continue this work towards our primary purpose in the year ahead.

Pru Mitchell, President October 2018 to August 2019