I hope by now you’ve heard that, in January this year, Cheryl Bettridge stepped down as president of Editors WA and I stepped awkwardly into her shoes. Cheryl guided the former Society of Editors (WA) through a time of significant change, the ripples of which are still extending through various levels of the organisation. Thus, it was no small matter for me to take over responsibility for keeping us pointing in generally the right direction.
As I’ve not met many members in person, I’d like to introduce myself here, partly so you can identify areas to educate me about what you hope to gain from Editors WA and from IPEd generally.
I emerged from under which rock?
I came to Western Australia from New Zealand in 2007, looking for a way back into a career in geology. But the minerals exploration and mining scene didn’t fill me with enthusiasm and, after brief stints with a couple of minor companies, I was lucky to land a job at the Geological Survey of Western Australia — not as a geologist, but as an editor in their Editing and Publishing section. Ignorant of what this might involve, it nevertheless seemed like an ideal chance to get a foot in the door. Like many former academics — I have an Honours degree in geology from The University of Auckland (1990) and PhD in geology from Otago University (1998) — I imagined I knew a thing or two about writing. The marriage of geology and written communication was a fortunate fork in a twisted career path.
I joined the former Society of Editors (WA) in about 2011–12, when Robin Bower was president, and hung about on the periphery for a while. This changed in 2014–15 when I was encouraged (or pushed?) to stand for the committee, and again in early 2016 when I found myself squeezed into the role of IPEd Councillor for Western Australia — just as the topic of transition to direct membership was approaching the pointy end of the stick.
What are some of our priorities?
Coming to the position of branch president while also Councillor for Western Australia has both pluses and minuses. It’s helpful to have the perspective of being on IPEd Council because it provides context for the WA branch and background to many of the decisions the branch has to make on behalf of members of IPEd in this state. On the other hand, I have to balance my obligations, as Councillor, to work for IPEd as a national organisation, while also advocating for editors in WA.
Here are some of the areas where I hope we’ll make progress in the short to medium term:
- Improve the professional standing of members in Western Australia
Before transition in 2016, the membership structure of the Society of Editors (WA) differed from most other societies in Australia. At transition and since, this has resulted in Editors WA having proportionally fewer members subscribed in the professional category than any other branch. I want to see more WA members recognise the benefits of switching to the professional membership category.
- Bring training opportunities into line with other branches
Despite a healthy program of regular meetings, and annual Winter Seminars, since at least 2007 when the Society of Editors became part of IPEd, we have not had the same opportunities for technical training as some other states. In part, this is because other states, such as Victoria and New South Wales, have larger publishing industries and much larger population bases, so they have greater capacity to offer technical training. However, we now have the backing of IPEd nationally, and a chance to draw on that resource to raise our game.
- Ensure the voice of Editors WA is heard at the national level
There is no suggestion that the national organisation does not recognise Editors WA equally with other branches, but there is a lingering sense that, hanging out at the end of a long limb, geographically distant from our eastern cousins, we tend to look to our own clan for direction. In my view, it would be good for us to feel more closely integrated with the larger tribe. This will be helped by development of a national program for professional development, and by having more WA branch members on national standing committees and working groups.
Want to tell me your hopes and aspirations, as an editor and for the WA branch? Let’s talk. You can reach me at email@example.com. My inbox is open.
President, Editors WA (January 2018 – )
IPEd Councillor for Western Australia (January 2016 – )