Members' reflections identify gaps

By Catherine Norwood

Illustration: Paul Dickenson

“When members and stakeholders of the fishing industry council Wildcatch Fisheries South Australia were asked what they thought of the organisation, some of the answers were unexpected,” executive officer Jonas Woolford says.

Wildcatch Fisheries SA was one of six industry associations to take part in an FRDC-funded research project aimed at improving communication within the industry.

Other participants were the Australian Council of Prawn Fisheries, Northern Territory Seafood Council, Tasmania Seafood Industry Council, Victorian Recreational Fishing and Western Rock Lobster Council.

A dozen interviews were conducted for each association, targeting members who were identified as ‘satisfied’, ‘ambivalent’ and ‘dissatisfied’ with the association’s performance. Views were also sought from each organisation’s stakeholders.

Responses from the initial survey were presented to each organisation at a workshop, along with a ‘value proposition’ put together by the researchers, based on the responses.

“The value proposition is the promise an organisation makes to its customers about the value they will receive from its product or service,” says Jill Briggs, managing director of Rural Training Initiatives, who has been leading the research.

Several of the organisations taking part decided to refine the value propositions put forward, including Wildcatch Fisheries SA, whose final version reads: “Wildcatch Fisheries SA delivers leadership, industry profiling, networking for our sector and ensures that through our activities we are raising the profile of the seafood.”

“An important aspect in defining the value proposition is to see whether it aligns with the organisation’s charter,” says Jill Briggs. For the organisations taking part in the research, this was broadly the case.

“We did find that some members and stakeholders were expecting different things from the organisation, not the things the organisation was set up to provide,” she says. “But whether they have taken action to address this or not, the participating organisations all know much more clearly how they are doing in the eyes of their members and stakeholders.”

Jonas Woolford says “while the responses confirmed various aspects of the Wildcatch Fisheries’ performance, it also identified some gaps that the organisation has since been able to address fairly simply”.

“There were some things that we assumed were happening, that our members were aware of, but through this process we discovered that was not the case. For instance, a lot of members didn’t recognise that we were actually responsible for efforts to promote wild-catch fisheries products.”

He says involvement in the project was timely, as the organisation has been undertaking a restructure.

“We have made some alterations to our constitution, to the structure of how our members are represented, and we will be seeking greater input from processors, and from women in the industry, through the South Australian Women’s Industry Network.”

Following the completion of the surveys and workshops, a ‘how to’ guide is being prepared, outlining the processes undertaken in preparing a snapshot of each organisation, and how to analyse the responses to identify what members perceive as the value proposition.

This guide will be launched at the Seafood Directions conference in Port Lincoln, SA, in October, where Jill Briggs will present the project’s findings.

FRDC Research Code: 2011-400

More information

Jill Briggs, 0409 455 710

Rural Training Initiatives