The primary role of the bowling club is to exist for the club members and other people who use the club for sporting and recreational activities. Bowling clubs have a vital role within the community especially in small towns and communities where there are few community centres and facilities. To reflect this community value any policy must highlight the physical and mental health benefit provided by bowling clubs as well as the social and cultural benefits. At the same time clubs must ensure that they are well resourced with regard to their assets, finances, volunteers, employees and competitions. These general principles encompass the concept of a ‘sustainable bowls club’. There are numerous examples of such sustainable clubs ranging from small country clubs to large suburban multi-use clubs.
The number of capitated members of Bowls WA has reduced significantly over the past few decades. At the same time, increasing numbers of people are participating in community/corporate competitions, such as ‘Get on the Green’. This shift in participation to community/corporate bowls has not been reflected in an increase in Bowls WA capitation numbers as the majority of non-capitated (social or community) bowlers are not registered. There is a need to recognise the costs and benefits of these bowlers to truly reflect their involvement in the sport. This includes the increased revenue they bring, wear and tear to greens and additional volunteer effort required to run competitions. The opportunity to increase the number of both capitated and non-capitated bowlers is available, it will however, require some changes. Suggested strategies to capture this market would include investigating different competition formats that reflect the needs of the changing demographic and climate.
One of the fundamental goals of the Strategic Facilities Plan is to recognise the current provision of facilities and to develop a hierarchy of facilities based on members, population and potential competition structures. To achieve this each club needs to assess its current classification, identify infrastructure gaps or duplications and develop a plan to become a more sustainable club. The club may need to reduce its current number of greens or increase the number of non-capitated players to achieve this goal.
There is an expectation that all levels of government should assist in the funding of facilities for sport and recreation. The Department of Sport and Recreation’s State Sporting Facilities Plan Framework – 2008-2015 is focused on the refurbishment and upgrade of existing infrastructure and improved management sustainability. The State Sporting Facilities Framework 2016 -2030 will be focused on the retirement of ageing infrastructure that has reached the end of its economic life. While this document is based on state level infrastructure it reflects the condition of sports and recreation facilities in WA that have been developed over previous decades.
The funding of facilities is the responsibility of the club; requests for funding assistance can be made through the local government authorities, the Department of Sport and Recreation and Lotterywest. Each local government authority will have different funding arrangements with sporting clubs whether it is capital investment, allocating land or through loan arrangements.
The Policy Manual seeks to achieve the following key objectives:
- Identify and promote sustainable club initiatives
- Communicate the roles and responsibilities of clubs, Bowls WA, the Department of Sport and Recreation and local government authorities
- Improve the quality of facilities currently provided
- Highlight initiatives which can better utilise facilities through the day, week and year, including revised competition structures
- Increase utilisation of current facilities including greens and clubhouses
- Improve accessibility and participation in all forms of competition
- Greater financial self sufficiency for clubs and reduce the burden on volunteers
- Increase recognition for the community value of clubs
- Promote the provision of clubs in developing areas