Message from the new National Council



The newly elected council met by teleconference on 6 June to discuss issues raised in the Annual General Meeting and a Members’ Forum held during the national conference in Brisbane in May. The Council focused on how they could better serve the members, and how to engage more effectively with members, in order to better lead and advocate for them.

Council heard members express their views about more consultation and communication. Members also expressed appreciation of the advocacy work and national projects such as the Indigenous Roadmap, as well as the services delivered by the states, networks and chapters. A brief summary of the matters raised is given below.

As some members are aware, it was decided to withdraw a motion to be put to the AGM to formally change the name of the association in the constitution, to enable a more thorough and longer period of consultation. The new Council is now preparing a detailed plan for a strategic review of the association, which has the following objectives:

1.       to consult on our value proposition with all members,

2.       to review the National Council Strategic Plan and update for 2017-2020,

3.       to strengthen the relationships and co-operation between different parts of the organisation,

4.       to come up with options and decisions about re-positioning and rebranding and implement necessary changes in an open and clear way,

5.       to build stronger relationships with like-minded organisations and stakeholders, and

6.       for this process to strengthen the association.

There will be a range of opportunities for members to comment and engage – these include a survey, submissions, general member meetings of branch, chapter and network events, and other meetings and workshops. Online, direct mail and in person discussions will all be used. The interim branding will continue to be used, as consistently as practicable.

Council has set up a Review taskforce to work with the national office over the next year. Headed by President, Robin Hirst, it includes Vice-President Simon Elliott, Councillors Janet Carding, Mark Crees and Lynda Kelly, and National Director Alex Marsden. The plan is to consult, collect information and feedback, and present the findings and strategic directions at next year’s AGM and Members’ Forum which will be held at the national conference in Melbourne in June 2018.


A quick summary of key issues raised at the Members’ Forum held 16 May 2017

Museums Galleries – name change and advocacy

  • There had been a lack of information flowing to members about the proposed name change. It was also of concern that the proposed change (to Museums Galleries Australia) could cause confusion at the state level in some states.
  • When Museums Australia was established, the name was inclusive of art museums, as in the ICOM definition of museum. In Australia we often use the word gallery for an art museum so expanding the name to include the word galleries may be more overtly inclusive. The galleries have always been a part of the sector and many galleries are members.
  • The need for unity for advocacy to government, not to divide and fragment. There is a strong push for unity and any name change needs to be part of a wider cultural change.

Membership and members’ services

  • Museums Galleries Australia is a national organisation however the size and setup of the State Branches, Chapters (in some States) and National Networks (Special interest groups) makes for a disparate and inconsistent level of member services being provided.
  • There is a vibrant Chapters sector in NSW particularly (this also applies in WA) – important that Council recognises all scale of operations.
  • Can we share Professional Development programs across states?
  • Over the last year MGA has been particularly successful in advocating with tangible results – support for the Indigenous Roadmap, the growth of the Emerging Professionals group and advocacy around budget – the sector has turned some important corners and it’s good to go forward from a strong base.
  • Consider diversity of the sector we represent and attempt for wider representation.


  • Considerable discussion about communications – what is best, how do we reach members, non-members and all component parts successfully? Comment that some State Branches need to be reinvigorated to communicate with their local members.
  • Need for a national communication strategy.
  • This Members’ forum is a good idea, but many members were unable to be present. At the next conference try to schedule the Forum so that it’s not conflicting with concurrent sessions, and also promote it and take comments/questions online as well.


  • The costs and benefits of the national conference. Seen as costly by some, with further comments about other conferences costing more. Are there other models – leaner and meaner to try to reduce costs? By using more digital delivery – online registration for some technical access to sessions?
  • Many discussed the advantages of “being present” at conferences and meeting and “networking” with other colleagues as an advantage.
  • National and state conferences - can we share more? If a speaker is coming to Victoria, can they spend a day in Tasmania and give a talk or session? Requires more communication and coordination across States in the early planning stage.
  • How often should the national conference be held – annual, two-yearly, or the ICOM model of 3 year cycle with committees meeting in alternate years? (Note about ten years ago there was consideration given to this and a decision made to go two-yearly, however there was considerable member concern and feedback and it was returned to annually very quickly.)


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