The current administrative and governance structures within bowls are, to put it simply, convoluted. For example, men and women who compete in events under the same club banner can and do play under wholly different competition structures. As a result, simple administrative processes become cumbersome and the current governance structures within our sport only add further unnecessary complexities to the process.
In November 2022 following the unification of the former Royal New South Wales Bowling Association and Women’s Bowls NSW, Bowls NSW established a ‘Boundaries Working Party’ (BWP) to analyze these structures by reviewing and aligning men’s and women’s competition boundaries to simplify and streamline how our sport is administered.
The BWP conducted initial consultations with a broad range of stakeholders from various clubs, Zones and Districts to seek guidance on the process of aligning these Boundaries. The BWP also distributed a formal survey which was sent to Zone and District Presidents and Secretaries in relation to an initial draft view of what potential competition boundaries could look like in the future. For the purposes of simplicity, 16 competitions ‘sectors’ were created across the State with current affiliated bowls clubs grouped within each.
The feedback regarding these draft sectors was extensive, constructive, and largely positive. There were obvious concerns raised through this process which Bowls NSW responded to, with some key themes emerging across responses. These key themes are listed below:
- The speed of new boundary implementation
- The size and scale of the sectors across NSW
- Travel distances for competitions
- Losses/Gains of Clubs/Members across new sectors
- What happens to the current Zone & Districts:
- Names / Numbering
Bowls NSW responded to over 80 individuals as part of this feedback and took immediate action to address point 1 above by extending the timeline for the implementation of Boundary alignment to the 2024-25 competition season.
A key message that emanated in the feedback was that Bowls NSW needs to look at the broader governance and administration of our sport across the State, in tandem with competition boundaries and that we can’t simply achieve one without addressing the other.
For context on this point and back in 2012, an independent review named the Suiko Report was conducted into the sport of bowls in NSW. A key recommendation of this report was to streamline the sport by reducing the layers of governance and therefore, the adverse effects of large multi-layered governance structures impacting bowls in NSW.
Currently, at a Zone and District level, there are 56 unique entities administering and governing bowls in NSW. There are over 300 directors or executive members making decisions on the delivery of the sport across the State: with over 200 committees and upward of 1,000 committee members doing the same. Each of these listed entities manage their competitions, finances, budgets, discretionary spending, administration, reporting, affiliation fees, policies and procedures, communication, uniforms, marketing, pathways, and education programs differently. In many instances, we are double handling and in reality, working harder, not smarter. There is a gross over-reliance on volunteers to run our sport and a fragmented and disparate approach to the administration of the sport in general at this level of governance.
With these governance structures remaining static and our participation numbers in decline, we are at a natural junction for our sport, and we need to take action to future-proof bowls in NSW to ensure it remains inclusive and sustainable. From your feedback, we understand there is a desire and a strong need for change.
Given the feedback obtained from the Boundary survey and considering the above context, Bowls NSW is proposing to take positive action. This proposed action, is to align competition Boundaries as outlined, whilst also looking to reform the current Zone and District administrative structures in this process.
Bowls NSW would like to obtain your vote in terms of whether we should venture down this path of Zone and District Unification in line with setting new competition Boundaries by 1 July 2024. This would mean dissolving current Zone and District governance structures and aligning these with the new and proposed competition structures moving forward.
There are many questions and concerns that come to mind when raising this point of which we are acutely aware and currently do not have the answers to. However, we will obtain all the required answers in due course should we venture down this path. To take this first step, we need your vote and input.
We would appreciate your vote below in relation to this matter. If you could please answer the below question with a simple YES or NO and select from the provided list what matters, you feel will be most important through this process should it go ahead. This vote is open to all current Bowls NSW Members.
We understand that members will require additional information to make a fully informed decision regarding this step and that there are broader impacts we need to consider here, however, there is a huge amount of work and ongoing consultation required to determine what this process and framework looks like, and in order for us to take this step forward and ringfence the resources and time required, we are simply seeking your initial view on moving in this direction.
Your input is vital to this process, and we sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read through this information and provide us with your position on the matter no later than midnight Sunday 12 March.To access the questions please click here