Published: 20 March 2015

Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, last year I spoke about the Wynyard Yacht Club being named Yachting Australia's Club of the Year, winning the award over much bigger and better resourced clubs around Australia.

This year the Wynyard Yacht Club was nominated for the 2014 Australian Institute of Sport award for Community Club of the Year.  This nomination recognised the commitment and dedication of the club's members and all those willing to share their time, knowledge and skill to build a club where the local community is warmly embraced and welcomed. 

Importantly, this award is not just limited to yachting clubs, but crosses all sports from golf to cricket and everything in-between, perhaps even curling - I am not sure how far it goes.  Being a finalist in such an award is an amazing achievement, particularly for a small club from a small regional town in north-west Tasmania. 

By way of background, the Australian Institute of Sport has been in operation since 1981.  A system of awards for athletes was established in 1983-84 and the award ceremony is held annually. 

The awards were broadened in 2013 to now include sports personality of the year, para performance of the year, community club award and volunteer administrator award.  Two awards - for performance of the year and sports personality of the year - are decided by a public vote. 

The Wynyard Yacht Club won the 2014 Community Club of the Year award.  This is an outstanding achievement and one all Tasmanians should celebrate.  To win this award the Wynyard Yacht Club has provided many benefits to the local community, including but not limited to, the adoption of the Discover Sailing program that teaches adults, children and those with disabilities to sail.  They offer free equipment and the use of their building to community groups.  They provide mentoring for youth in their area and as a result they have doubled their membership. 

Every time I drive or walk through Wynyard, past the club rooms, I note the sign out the front welcoming all newcomers to the club, encouraging anyone to experience what they offer, free of charge.  One day I should have a turn myself.  There is always a hive of activity - it is a wonderful club.


One thing that stood out for me last year when the club won Yachting Australia's Club of the Year award was that the club, which had only 80 members in a town with a population of 5 000, was competing against clubs like Fremantle Sailing Club and the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron in Victoria with 3 000 to 4 000 members.  And they still won.


This goes a long way to demonstrate the success the club has had so far.  The club has worked hard to foster inclusion and it is paying dividends.  I understand it has not always been an easy process to change the direction of the club and there have been a number of objectors in the past to some of the changes they have made.  Nevertheless it has paid off.  This year so far has been more successful than the last.  The model they have adopted seems to work.  It keeps feeding back into the community with its activities and it is all done with volunteers.


The club reinvests any funds it receives back into the club, particularly into training volunteers and the payment of fees.  The Wynyard Yacht Club has 20 club‑owned training yachts and support craft and they can provide these to the community.  Each craft has been maintained to high standard of operation by its members.


The Wynyard Yacht Club is now an established volunteer marine rescue centre.  They carried out another rescue recently in conjunction with Tasmania Police.  They are also partnering again with Wynyard High School to run a Start Sailing 1 program during school hours and will also commence a Start Sailing 2 program every second Sunday afternoon, with 14 students enrolled in the 12-hour course.  The team's racing program will also include coastal secondary schools and will compete against other schools statewide.


Wynyard Yacht Club will have four yachts and eight members attend the national Hansa titles in Hobart over Easter.  The Hansa class of yacht is suitable for those with disabilities to compete equally with able-bodied persons.  The Wynyard Yacht Club has the current national 303 champion who will defend this title.


As a result of these activities, it is not hard to understand why the club has recently won so many awards.  To reiterate some of the biggest awards, they won a Medibank Active Tasmania award and the Sailability North West silver award.  They won Yachting Australia's Club of the Year award and a Human Rights award - the Robin Hood AM Sport Award.  Yachting Tasmania - they were the joint winner of the Club of the Year with the Sandy Bay Yacht Club, and Wynyard Yacht Club members Richard Lewis, who is 95 years of age, and Angus Thomson, 17 years of age, were awarded Waratah‑Wynyard Citizen of the Year and Young Citizen of the Year, respectively.  The last, and possibly the biggest, award to date has been winner of the Australian Institute of Sport Community Club of the Year.


With three-quarters of this year's sailing season completed, the club's membership and participation has flourished to 98 members.  When I spoke about the club last year, it had approximately 70 members.  It is still growing at a rate of knots - excuse the pun.  More importantly, the club has had 173 who were either members or who have participated in on‑water programs.


I again commend this wonderful club and wish its members all the very best for the years ahead.  I am sure we will hear more of them and their successes as they are recognised in the months and years ahead.  They are a fantastic little yacht club, and being such a small little club in a small part of Tasmania, they deserve to be recognised for the great things they have achieved.


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