Meeting:2020 AGM/President's Report
What to say about the 2020-21 Wikimedia Australia year? We started out with a bang and lots of media attention with the Franklin Women edit-a-thon in July 2019, and Have A Go Day in WA, and peaked midway with the WikiCite conference in February and the massive Know My Name national event in March 2020.
Then COVID-19 restrictions hit and we have been in 'online only' mode since mid-March. The decision to set up our own online meeting infrastructure last year turned out to be a fortunate move, and our monthly online community meetings have been a highlight for me. Up front, I wish to thank members of the committee who have balanced their committee responsibilities with a range of unprecedented personal challenges over the past twelve months. We truly appreciate your time and commitment in this year of disruption.
A key activity of the committee of management for 2019-20 was implementing the Wikimedia Australia Annual Plan 2019-20 as set out in our Simple Annual Plan Grant from the Wikimedia Foundation.
Our planned priority of engaging in the regional and global community came to an abrupt halt. We were looking forward to the Wikimedia Summit, and Gideon Digby and Robert Myers were working on our behalf working as part of the ESEAP team on Wikimania in Bangkok, where we had scholarships ready for a good Australian contingent. This has been a big disappointment, and there is still much uncertainty over next steps.
It is good to remind ourselves of the things we did achieve. Editing programs tagged on the Outreach dashboard for Wikimedia Australia 2019-20 show that we supported 18 programs and a total of 371 editors, who added 681,000 words and 4,690 citations to Wikimedia projects. This included creation of 251 articles plus upload of 86 items to Commons. All in all, 2,460 articles were edited which have recorded 6.38 million article views.
Simple Annual Plan Grant 2019-20
Wikimedia Australia again applied for funding from the Wikimedia Foundation’s Simple Annual Plan Grants (APG) program, and received AUD$ 37,125 for the period 1 July 2019 – 30 June 2020, with reporting commitments in January and July 2020. This grant funded recurrent costs of chapter governance such as public liability insurance, compliance costs and digital infrastructure. Beyond this, the grant funded two overall programs of activity:
1. Community Support Goal: 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.
Despite restrictions due to COVID-19 we managed to undertake 70% of activity in this program.
2. Outreach and Engagement Goal: 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. Activity for this program was significantly reduced this year with only 30% of planned expenditure achieved.
We also bid to host a satellite WikiCite event in conjunction with the VALA library conference in Melbourne in February 2020. We received AUD $1,194.25 which covered venue and catering for this conference.
Reporting against the Annual Plan
The reports of these programs are available through our 2019-20 Annual Report, and the Wikimedia Australia calendar links to all past events related to Wikimedia in Australia, so I do not intend to go through all of the almost 60 events listed again in this report. I do want to record thanks to everyone who has taken on the planning, organisation, implementation and reporting for these events. This remains a 100% volunteer-run program, and with the small community we have who are active in this form of outreach, it represents an increasingly demanding role.
Online training and outreach
The shift to ‘online only’ this year has created additional challenges for those involved in training and outreach, who have been rapidly developing new skills at the same time as actually delivering online training. Thanks particularly to Kerry Raymond, Ann Reynolds and Margaret Donald for picking up online training and support programs. We should also recognise that online delivery also provides new opportunities for outreach and training which I hope we can build on going forward.
Building and recognising partnerships were something the Committee came back to several times this year. I would like to acknowledge Caddie Brain’s work in this area, taking the lead on several large projects, including the long lead up to the Know My Name Art+Feminism national roll-out. This started with the National Gallery of Australia, and ended up with at least 10 partners coming on board for the March edit-a-thon weekend. These events were successful in raising awareness of the campaign, and the editing skills of participants, thanks to planning and coordination by Caddie and her team in each state. The NGA partnership is continuing online with Kerry Raymond, Ann Reynolds, Margaret Donald and Louise Mayhew supporting volunteers and NGA staff.
Wikidata and GLAM project
When it became clear that we would not be able to implement the Annual Plan in this financial year, the Committee was advised by the Grants team that alternative projects could be proposed. Following consultation it was decided there was a priority to build on the awareness of Wikidata amongst GLAM organisations that had commenced in the Wikidata Tours of previous years.
A GLAM consultant, Rebecca Hawcroft was engaged to identify what was needed to bridge the gap between the needs of GLAMs and the knowledge and materials Wikimedia Australia needed to support GLAMs in getting onboard. Following interviews with leaders who work with Wikidata and GLAMs, and with several GLAM organisations, this project is in the final stages of content development and reporting.
Over several years, participating in global wiki challenges has provided an effective way for us to undertake outreach, encouraging Australians to put their toe in the water in terms of contributing content and offering prizes. Thanks to Robert Myers for taking on Wiki Loves Monuments in September 2019, and Thomas Shafee for coordinating the Wiki Science Competition with an Australian photo in the global winners. Lack of coordinators and COVID restrictions mean we have not been involved in Wiki Loves Earth or Wiki Loves Monuments in 2020.
Committee of management
The term of this committee started on 25 August 2019 with a full cohort of members from across five states and territories, including three new members: Jacinta Sutton, Alex Lum and Matt Moore.
A Committee induction and planning face to face meeting was held over the weekend of 11-13 October 2019 in Melbourne. We were not able to hold the planned Strategy Planning Summit due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Robert Myers took on the role of Secretary and has performed it with the care and diligence we have seen throughout his time on the committee in several roles. Robert and I joined the committee at the same time in 2013, and we have been lucky to have his hardworking, supportive and constructive contribution. He served as Treasurer for three years from 2016-19, and has been active in building global connections through ESEAP and Wikimania, as well as coordinating Wiki Loves Monuments in 2019. Many thanks Robert, and thank you for all you have contributed to our movement in so many ways – in addition to your many other volunteer roles. All the best for the future.
The financial management of the chapter is a vital role and Steve Crossin has juggled his role as Treasurer with major work and study commitments.
Thanks to Sam Wilson, Technical Officer for keeping us online and improving our infrastructure, with assistance from Robert Myers.
Jacinta Sutton, Alex Lum and Caddie Brain looked after the Wikimedia Australia newsletters that were published in October, January and April.
I wish to acknowledge Matt Moore’s contribution this year. In addition to contributing in a constructive, thought provoking way to committee deliberations, he took on organising a workshop at State Library of NSW, and also managed our first foray into recruiting and supervising consultants to undertake project work. Matt is leaving the committee due to demands of a new job, and we wish him all the best.
And finally a big thank you to Alex Lum, who as Vice-President has picked up the sometimes fraught engagement with movement strategy and the unexpected Wikimedia brand project. As well as dealing with complex questions and the challenges of global communication, this work involves difficult hours due to time zones. Alex has been a tremendous support to me as President this year, and I am very pleased that he is taking over the role for 2020-21, and know he will do a fantastic job.
The year ahead
Following restrictions on funding of in-person events since mid-March, we now have an updated set of guidelines from the Wikimedia Foundation for determining whether a planned event can proceed, so please start planning if you are in a position to do so. In October we celebrate the 8th birthday of Wikidata, and January 15 2021 is Wikipedia’s 20th birthday. Ideas for these celebrations will be welcomed by the committee.
Finally, my personal thanks to you all for your support and participation in Wikimedia Australia activities. It has been a privilege to serve as President of Wikimedia Australia for the past three terms, and while the exact details of what will be possible in the next year may not be as clear as we would like, I know we have a positive future ahead as an organisation working:
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.
Pru Mitchell, President