As we enter 2017, I think it’s worth reflecting on what’s been achieved over the past year by Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) and the sport. GRV has been substantially reformed in line with the recommendations by the Racing Integrity Commissioner and the Chief Veterinarian. Local Rules of Racing have been updated and revised, a new registration framework now better regulates participants and animal welfare rules have been strengthened. More dogs are being re-homed and new breeding controls have been introduced while racing opportunities have been improved for greyhounds of all ages and opportunities.
GRV also significantly strengthened its ability to capture and analyse data across a range of issues including breeding, whelping, track injuries, retirements, euthanasia, and re-homing and established a risk-based framework to help ensure the sport’s integrity. The consultation process for a new round of proposed rule changes has also been completed and GRV is now considering some very comprehensive submissions on this issue.
The Industry Consultative Group and Stakeholder Workshops have helped guide this reform process while giving participants a vibrant forum for leading discussion and generating ideas about the sport’s future across a range of issues. GRV will be presenting more such workshops and other consultative forums in 2017 with a strong focus on regional Victoria.
Other highlights in 2016 included a major expansion of the animal welfare and integrity teams with the swabbing budget tripled and 80 property inspections a week now being conducted. The year also saw the launch of Greyhound Care and Standards website and Greyhound Monthly Victoria, the opening of GAP’s new Mount Mercer assessment centre and a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement to provide a stronger career structure for GRV stewards, who are now also authorised to take swabs which relieves the pressure on race day vets.
Much of the major reform work is now complete and 2017 will be a year where GRV focuses on delivering programs and initiatives to build on this work. Grading guidelines will be reviewed to make sure they are fully consistent and properly implemented and the Gippsland Carnival, now underway, highlights how GRV will step up its marketing and promotion of the sport in 2017. The $34 million infrastructure program will start rolling out to improve racing, club and GAP facilities and operations. Participant education and support programs will also be stepped up and GRV will work more closely with owners to help them meet their re-homing responsibilities.
Speaking of re-homing, GRV is also trialling a new greyhound recovery initiative to help rehabilitate and re-home dogs that experience certain career-ending injuries at the track. Treatment for such injuries can be costly, especially for smaller and hobbyist participants, so GRV will pay for all treatment costs if the owner genuinely can’t afford them and then enter the dog into GAP if no other home can be found. The trial is being initially conducted with all race day vets who will assess injured dogs to determine if they have good prospects for recovery and so eligible for the trial.
2016 was one of the biggest year of change for the sport in many decades and it has not been an easy journey for everyone. But thanks to the commitment to reform and hard work of participants, the clubs and GRV, I am now confident that the future of the sport is looking much stronger and that 2017 will be a year of consolidation, growth and more great racing.