[Linux-aus] Linux Australia President's Report, 2016

Hugh Blemings president at linux.org.au
Wed Jan 11 16:23:36 AEDT 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Please find the Linux Australia President's Report for 2016 below.

Feedback, comments, questions welcome as always.

I look forward to seeing many of you at LCA next week :)

Kind Regards,

== Linux Australia President’s Report for 2016 ==

= Executive Summary =
This has been my first term as President of Linux Australia after 
volunteering on the Council in previous years in a variety of roles 
including Vice President.  It has been a privilege to once again serve 
the local Free Software community, if in a modest way, during this period.

I have also had the good fortune to work alongside a first rate Council 
who have been unstinting in their support through what has been an at 
times somewhat turbulent twelve months.  It is pleasing to note that the 
2016 Council was in the majority female, a practical example of LA’s 
desire to live by our values of inclusiveness and equality and an 
overdue first for the organisation.

It would be remiss not to note the support of the broader community 
during the year, a number of key initiatives and the majority of our 
events being undertaken largely by groups and individuals outside the 
Council, as, I think, it should be.

As I reflect on the year past in preparing this document I am reminded 
that it has not been a year without challenge or controversy.  I will 
not dwell on this here other than to note that as an organisation and as 
individual volunteers on the Council these events and circumstances 
provided an opportunity to learn, reflect and, I am confident, 
continually improve.

= Events and Conferences =
By any reasonable measure, the bulk of Linux Australia’s activities each 
year are the various conferences and events run by LA or under its 
auspices.  This year we had a particularly strong field;

* LCA By The Bay - Linux.conf.au in Geelong, Victoria
* DrupalGov - in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
* WordCamp - Sunshine Coast, Queensland
* WordCamp - Sydney, New South Wales
* Pycon-AU - Melbourne, Victoria
* GovHack Australia - Over 40 locations across Australia and New Zealand
* DrupalSouth - Gold Coast, Queensland

All events were well attended and for the most part returned a modest 

As I write we are less than a week away from LCA 2017 which will be held 
in picturesque Hobart, Tasmania and promises to be a first rate event.

I will note there was no OSDC event held in 2016 due to an absence of 
bids to run same.

= Grants =
Three significant grants were made during 2016.

The first in the form of a matching donation of nearly $5k (for a total 
of nearly $10k) to the Geelong based charity Give Where you Live.  This 
was a joint donation between Linux Australia and linux.conf.au 2016.

The second grant was for some $10k to the Software Freedom Conservancy - 
a worthy recipient indeed and one that to this audience I suspect needs 
no introduction.

Last but no means least, we also made donation of some $5k to GovHack 
New Zealand, to facilitate international travel for winning teams to the 
Australian-based Red Carpet event in Adelaide in October.

It is my hope that we can provide more grants in coming years as while 
our coffers are by no means infinite, our financial position is quite 
strong and there are worthy projects out there.  If you would to seek a 
grant or funding for a FOSS related project that is in line with our 
LA’s values, please review the information on our website 

= Sub-Committees =
This year saw the formation of a Treasury and Finance Subcommittee, a 
group charged with supporting the Treasurer of the day, maintaining the 
organisation’s Risk Register and providing a way to train “in house” 
potential future Treasurers for the organisation.

This year we also formed a Membership Subcommittee, charged with 
investigating candidate membership management platforms, and undertaking 
membership renewal, a long-overdue task. That was completed in November 
this year, with 1026 of around 3000 previous members re-confirming their 
Membership. The Membership committee has provided recommendations around 
future candidate platforms to replace the ageing MemberDB system 
currently in use.

While not a sub-committee in the formal sense, there are discussions 
underway to have a small group of individuals pre-identified that the 
Council of the day can liaise with should an opinion be needed on Code 
of Conduct or Diversity related matters.  In particular this group would 
be asked to review any outgoing communiqués to ensure the 
intent/response is appropriate does not contain problematic language.

I’m pleased to note that following a decision by the members of Linux 
Users Victoria (LUV) to do so, it is anticipated that LUV will become a 
sub-committee of Linux Australia during the course of 2017.

The remaining non-conference based sub-committees are:

* Admin Team
* AV Subcommittee
* Mirror Team
* Web Team
* Sydney Linux Users Group
* LOGIN (NewcastleLUG)
* Media and Communications Subcommittee

Reports from the various sub-committees and their activities can be 
found at http://linux.org.au/sub-committees

= Linux.conf.au bids =
I’m happy to advise that preparations are well and truly underway for 
the 2018 event and that barring anything very very unforeseen we have a 
strong candidate for 2019 as well.

More details on these, including location, to follow after LCA 2017 

= Membership and other Statistics =
As noted above, a series of emails were sent to our Membership to seek 
to clarify our actual membership numbers - there is often a disparity 
between number of subscribers to the various LA mailing lists and our 
actual membership proper.

As a result of this exercise and some slow going but ably undertaken 
filtering and sorting, we have a membership of some 1026 individuals who 
during the course of the exercise confirmed their desire to remain a 
member of Linux Australia.

If you like numbers and statistics, our very capable Vice President, 
Kathy Reid put together an excellent Infographic which is worthy of a 
look! [0]

= Advocacy and Government submissions =
In April Linux Australia made a submission to the Australian Government 
in relation to the Senate Committee on the Trans Pacific Partnership 
noting our significant concerns about the proposal.  Our submission is 
#128 in the Parliamentary Joint Committee page [1] A direct link to the 
PDF is at [2].

In June a submission was made to the Australian Government Productivity 
Commission’s enquiry into Intellectual Property Arrangements - in which 
we sought to ensure the interests of Free and Open Source Software and 
Technologies were considered by the Commission.  A PDF of the submission 
is here [3].

We are grateful for the tireless efforts of Josh Stewart on the 
preparation of these two submissions and to Kim Weatherall for her 
assistance with research and discussion of same.

Linux Australia also signed an open letter that will be sent in February 
2017 to the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission enquiry into 
Fair Use.  This was signed in partnership with the Australian Library 
and Information Association, Electronic Frontiers Australia, Google, 
Council of Australian University Directors of IT, Creative Commons 
Australia to name but a few.

= Challenges =
The 2016 Council term was not without a few challenges for Linux 
Australia and our volunteer Council.

A number of Council members were unable to participate in LA activities 
to the extent they wished to during the year.  In some cases, including 
my own, this was an “expected” absence, in others it was entirely 
unforeseen.  This led to several month long or more periods where much 
of the work of Council fell to a subset of three or four office bearers. 
  While we managed, barely, it did impinge on our ability to accomplish 
as much as we would have liked to for the 2016 term.

There were a couple of occasions where traffic on Linux Australia’s main 
mailing list degraded to the point where at best it was no longer civil 
or on topic.  This prompted me to write a short message to the list 
subscribers asking them to reflect on perspective when posting [4]  As I 
re-read it now I struggle to better articulate or summarise what was 
felt then as now, if you’re curious I commend the brief piece to you.

= Closing Comments =
While it was at times a turbulent year for Linux Australia much good was 
accomplished.  Events were run, fun was had, code and docs were written, 
hardware designed, projects started, friendships forged.

As someone who has had the good fortune to be involved in FOSS for many 
years professionally as well as personally, I continue to be struck by 
how well our region (NZ very much included) “punches above it’s weight” 
when it comes to the FOSS commons.

With that in mind I note with thanks the efforts of all who participate 
in FOSS in our neck of the woods whether they be involved in LA or not 
and however it is they contribute - writing documentation, hacking 
kernel code, helping someone install Linux for the first time, wrangling 
Python deep in the depths of OpenStack or ensuring there is tea and 
coffee at the next LUG meeting. All contributions are valuable, welcomed 
and enrich the commons.

I thank all my fellow Council members, but particularly call out the 
efforts of the Vice President, Kathy Reid and Secretary, Sae Ra Germaine 
without whom the lights would not have stayed on.  Our Treasurer, Tony 
Breeds kept the finances ticking over and showed good grace during some 
unexpectedly busy periods.  Our Ordinary Council Members, Cherie Ellis, 
Katie McLaughlin and Craige McWhirter were (sorry...) anything but 
Ordinary.  Whilst at times they were plagued by periods of absence, what 
contributions they were able to make were none the less valuable.

During the course of the year I had occasion to reach out to various 
trusted members of the broader community on various topics seeking their 
counsel.  I am grateful for their time, wisdom and friendship.

I also place on record my specific thanks to our immediate past 
President, Josh Hesketh and the 2015 Council who worked tirelessly to 
keep Linux Australia running so well.  Anything we have accomplished we 
have accomplished because of those who went before us and worked so capably.

It is unusual to conclude a report of this kind with the statement that 
I hope this will be my final term as President of Linux Australia.  I do 
so though because in the person of our current Vice President, Kathy 
Reid, we have someone who has a vision to take Linux Australia in a 
positive direction, something I hope the membership will endorse with 
their vote for her through the current Council elections.

On balance it has been a good year, often fun, sometimes frustrating. 
But to the extent that there was Linux and other Free Software involved 
and some very good people, it has been a rewarding one.

I remain proud to be part of Linux Australia and the broader FOSS 
community and to have served both during my term as President.

Kind Regards,
Hugh Blemings
President, Linux Australia
January 2017

and http://www.github.com/linuxaustralia/infographic




[4] http://lists.linux.org.au/pipermail/linux-aus/2016-June/022744.html

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