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Sheppard Antagonises Parks Group

Sheppard Antagonises Parks Group
September 9, 2010

Leading leisure industry consultant Martin Sheppard has been slammed in a communication from the President of Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA).

Responding to comments made by Sheppard in his company’s Smart Connection e-newsletter, distributed yesterday, PLA National President Bruce Fordham has written to members of PLA “to clarify some assertions made about PLA in a recent ‘Smart Connection’ e-news.

“Without getting into a word on word rebuttal of statements, I feel it important to accurately inform all PLA members of ongoing organisational actions and the reasoning behind such.”

In an editorial in the latest Smart Connection e-newsletter, ‘What Does the Hung Parliament Mean to Us?”, Sheppard recalled “it was pleasing to read the response from our industry associations, Parks and Leisure Association (PLA) and the Australian Leisure Facilities Association (ALFA), to the question raised in the last Smart Connection eNews, ‘why haven’t PLA and ALFA been lobbying government parties for the election to determine a policy for our industry?’”

“Since this question was raised, both associations immediately issued policy statements (but) a prime opportunity seems to have been missed, due to these reactive rather than proactive statements! The PLA policy statement represented leisure planners, parks and open space, thus their request concentrated on government action around parks, open space and health.”

These comments appear to have upset the PLA’s leadership, causing Fordham to follow up later in the day. In his communication, the PLA President continued “Parks and Leisure Australia has from day 1, established as an umbrella organisation which represents professionals engaged in planning, managing, and maintaining Australia’s open space and developed environments, as well as the many built leisure facilities, which provide for local communities. The article in question implied a more limited focus to this. PLA has broad membership across many sectors and includes the private sector; education institutions; not for profit organisations; public authorities and all sectors of the government. We exist to support professionals delivering benefit of community quality of life.

“(Sheppard’s) article implied a reactive approach by PLA to ‘Smart Connection’ stimulus, which I assure members, is far from the truth. I can assure all members, that the PLA National Board and CEO have long been in liaison with Federal government departmental personnel, as well as with leaders of all political parties - strengthened just prior to the recent election - advocating across a broad palette of issues from Community Infrastructure; Climate Change; Health and Well-being; Inclusive communities and the improved adoption of modern technology.

“Members, pleased be assured that as well as recent letters to all political leaders - which have in fact elicited a supportive reply and agreement of further face to face discussion - PLA has, and will continue to liaise and advocate on behalf of our overall industry. Our approach is and will remain, very ‘proactive’.”

Formed in 1998 by the merger of the Royal Australian Institute of Parks and Recreation and the Victorian-based Australian Leisure Institute, Parks and Leisure Australia set out to represent a broad range of community recreation and open spaces interests.

As highlighted by Sheppard, in recent years the PLA has tended to focus on the interests of leisure planners along with parks and open spaces professionals. A desire to represent those who manage aquatic, recreation and sports facilities was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Australian Leisure Facilities Association last year.

Click here to contact Smart Connection via their entry in the Australasian Leisure Management Supplier Directory.








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