President's Report at 2021 AGM
President’s report AGM 2021
Dear CAV Members,
Last year, during my presidential campaign speech, I spoke about my “4R” Mission to Rebuild, Reconnect, Reach Out and Regenerate. I felt that we were weak in our business processes and infrastructure, and as an association, we were beginning to lose our identity and our fellowship and we were on course to contract and lose our younger membership.
We had such great plans, only to be slowed down by the multiple Covid lockdowns. But lockdown or not, the CAV has a physical presence, and a maintenance cost that did not go away. We instead turned our attention inwards to improve the ways we were doing things. We applied for numerous financial grants to multiple agencies and were successful for a number of them. We had multiple monthly Zoom meetings to discuss fundamental concerns and the improvements that we could make to the CAV. As you will see in this report, we have been quite busy.
Of particular concern was the effects of discontinuity between the annual dramatic changes in EXCO over the last few years, so we established an Advisory Board to provide non-binding advice to the EXCO President including suggestions, issues and directions for the future of the CAV. This year’s Advisory Board members have all been past presidents of the CAV. They are Dr Frank Chew OAM, Dr Clement Wong, Vincent Chow OAM, Dr KaSing Chua, Susan Gin, Simon Soon and Shirley Teh.
Using my “4R” framework, here is a concise summary of our activities in 2020:
We took advantage of the down time to restructure and simplify CAV’’s business processes. In particular, We:
- streamlined our vendor management and payment processes
- upgraded our CAV membership database system from a stack of manually managed excel spreadsheets to a cloud-based system that also handles billing and contactless collections via the internet
- rebuilt and refreshed the CAV main and subgroup websites to become more informative, welcoming and honouring our founders and fellows.
- put the last 12 years of CAV newsletters and bulletins online
- installed a Network Access Storage server that has allowed us to build a data and video/photo repository of our history
- cleaned up the surrounding areas and embarked on a major renovation and refurbishment of our portable classroom building
- designed and ordered 2 more class rooms and an office/library for the school, which will be delivered in the March/April 2021 timeframe
- put up a balustrade around the school corridor for children’s safety
Recognising the opportunities for the use of the land purchased by our founders, we re-established the Building Project Committee (BPC) and mandated that the sitting President will not chair the BPC to avoid conflict of interest or personal agendas. This means that when the EXCO team changes (including the President), the BPC chairperson will remain the same and continue the same agenda as before. The initial mission for the BPC is to come up with a proposal to our members which will then lead to a proper master plan for future development. The current chairperson of the BPC is Daniel Loh, who is an experienced property development professional. The BPC chairperson will report separately in the AGM.
Over the past few years, we have observed a “disconnect” between the CAV and its School parents. This was a key thrust in the 2020 EXCO and we intentionally recruited 4 EXCO members who are school parents into the team. The pandemic and lock-down did not make our work any easier but the school council, principal and teachers have done a fantastic job to keep active communication and connections with school parents using multiple social media tools including wechat. As soon as lock-down and restrictions eased, EXCO organised a number of activities to reconnect with subgroups, teachers and senior members of CAV. Activities organised included:
- Virtual Mid Autumn Celebrations. Unable to meet face to face, we organised a virtual celebration. Activities included a reading of the legend of Chang Er, a lantern making competition and a Mooncake making lesson by Lillie Giang.
- Communications between Subgroups. We hosted a luncheon where each subgroup was invited to share its plans and activities for this year and to strengthen the connection between them and EXCO.
- School Staff. We had our first Christmas lunch with school staff and teachers in December for all of us to get to know each other better. We farewelled some staff but also welcomed new ones.
- Foundation, Life and Honorary Fellows. We conducted a High Tea/Brunch with our Foundation Members, Honorary Fellow Members and Past Presidents in January 2021, to recognize their contributions and to welcome them as well as to re-acquaint old friends.
- Our annual Chinese New Year Yee Sang dinner was held on 20th Feb 2021 with20% less places available due to Covid-safe distancing requirements. All places were booked out in a matter of hours, indicating that CAV members were still very happy to reconnect with old friends, and enjoy food and festivities together.
- CAV School We held a picnic style, Chinese New Year event on 21st February 2021 on the lawn in front of the school, attended by over 300 people. The committee organized programs including a Lion Dance, school students’ performances, a Yee Sang cooking demonstration and vendor booths with delicious food to enjoy. We received lots of positive feedback from school parents and VIPs. Most importantly, the children were very happy to enjoy the cultural event in their During this event we were delighted to reconnect with some of our community leaders such as Jackson Taylor (State Member for Baywater), Zoe Williams from the Department of Home Affairs, Cr Marcia Timmers-Leitch of Collier Ward and Mr. Bwe Thay – Deputy Chair of the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
CAV Lion Dance coming up close to the children
The School Council has been working very hard to promote the Chinese School and it has been successful in bringing our school student numbers up. The school council also actively engages with other school parents to build a good and long lasting relationship. One of the on-going programs is a school parent support group to build better connections between parents, school council and EXCO.
In my plans at the start of 2020, we stated that we cannot be insular, as we are part of a wider community. As a peak body in Victoria, the CAV worked with volunteers to help international students and elderly who were in financial difficulty, by connecting them to generous donators who were willing to provide free meals to those in need. Through the CAV network, we were able to help people who had lost their jobs, to find support or other jobs to enable them to survive during difficult times. This is another way in which the CAV can reach out by leveraging its network power to help others.
CAV also had the opportunity to work with and support the Australian Defense Force Training Centre through their Immerse Language Program. Of particular interest is that the Chinese School was requested to include activities such as Chinese Painting, Calligraphy, Chinese medicine, Martial Arts (TaiJi), Table Tennis and Chinese dance for the adult soldiers. Supplying high quality resource teachers for the language partner sessions and finding experienced activity leaders to teach the cadets about Chinese cultures (such as tea ceremony, TaiJi, cultural dance, dumpling making and Chinese medicine) was a natural fit for the CAV given the extent of our network. The Australian Deference Force Training Centre gave us the highest compliments and hope to open a new opportunity for the CAV School in the future.
As the Chinese Association of Victoria, we also participated in several government discussion forums to signal our concern about racist attacks on Chinese in Australia. These have been well received and they continue to include us in their ongoing discussions.
Our 2020 team consisted of 12 members with 2/3 senior members and 1/3 younger members and a 3:1 gender spread (male-female).
In 2021 our team will comprise 13 members with a roughly 50:50 split between senior and younger members and a 50-50 gender spread. Whilst we want a stable team that can carry the vision and mission of the CAV every year, it is always good to have a small rotation to bring in new ideas and groom new leaders for higher appointments.
The CAV School
2020 has been particularly challenging for our school, as we transitioned to Zoom based virtual sessions in a very short time. With Zoom, our teachers had to do significantly more work to prepare programs to continually keep the interest of the students in the virtual classrooms. Meanwhile, the students had to adjust to the challenges of working remotely. I am pleased that the feedback from parents and the students has been good, with one of our VCE students achieving a raw score of 40 (top 10% of students) in the Chinese external examinations.
The biggest challenge for our school is that the number of students reduced significantly due to the pandemic. However, with the marketing efforts of our school council to promote our school widely, we are seeing the student numbers climb back up again.
Checking out the new rooms for the CAV School, after the AGM
Although we did not have the chance to run any events and do fund raising, I am happy to report to you that our financials for 2020 have been good. More importantly, we survived! Our Financial statements will report a surplus of $17,952 after depreciation and amortisation. We also received $109,279 in grants last year which is really good considering what we went through in 2020. I will leave the detailed financials to the treasurer’s report.
The success of running the operation of CAV has been the effort of a great EXCO team and support from numerous volunteers and past office holders. In closing, I would like to acknowledge and thank the following people who continuously supported the CAV in multiple ways. They are all volunteers who have given of their time and money to help build the CAV community:
- The 2020 CAV Executive Committee members: 3 Vice Presidents (Shirley Teh, Mai Saw and Adwin Town; also, as PRO), Secretary (Simon Soon and Mark Tyssen), Treasurer (Shirley Thong and Beng Law) and committee members (Nicholas Lee, Neoh Chee Yeong, Pin Boon Koay and Eric Kong).
- Special thanks to Simon Soon who continuously provided guidance to me even during his medical leave.
- The CAV School Building Trust Fund trustees
- Honorary Follow Board Committee
- The School Council and our school principal Dr Ruilan Yuan
- The Building Project Committee team
- The CAV Advisory Board
- All Subgroup leaders and committee members.
- All related parties who continuously supporting CAV.
Iwan Jusuf (游意旺)
President 协会主席 2020