The big news this month is a major reversal on the banning of greyhound racing in NSW. While this is good news for the thousands of people involved in greyhound racing in NSW, the strict new framework for the sport in that State is a clear reminder that we can’t let the pace of reform in Victoria slacken. GRV’s 2016 Annual Report lays out the challenges ahead and the goals that GRV has set to drive a major transformation of the sport.
For the first time, GRV’s Annual Report provides figures for track injuries and euthanasia rates. They do not make for comfortable reading but GRV is releasing them as part of our commitment to being open and accountable and to provide benchmarks for measuring the progress of the reforms now underway. And GRV has commissioned an independent audit of its data capture and analysis capabilities so that we can build a much more detailed understanding of what factors are driving injury and euthanasia rates and so how to reduce them. As the Annual Report shows, significant progress has been made in reducing greyhound breeding with the number of pups whelped in Victoria falling more than 1700, or 32 per cent, compared to 2014/15 but it will take nearly two years for this reduction of litters to impact on euthanasia rates. And it will also take time to introduce a regulatory framework, engage and educate participants, improve breeding practices, make tracks safe and increase the overall re-homing capacity.
Work is already well advanced on these issues and GRV is in a good position financially to deliver reform. GRV made a $5.3 million profit for 2015-16 and it will all be invested in animal welfare and integrity, including a $3.5 million expansion of GAP. There is also a $37 million fiveyear capital works plan to improve greyhound welfare, track safety and racing operations. The real and lasting change in Victoria however is being driven by strong and productive engagement between participants and GRV, the clubs and other stakeholders. Following the successful stakeholder engagement workshops earlier this year, two regional workshops were held each in Shepparton and Traralgon last month which generated more constructive proposals covering breeding, racing careers and re-homing.
A third regional workshop will be held in Warrnambool on Tuesday, 8 November, at which we will no doubt learn even more from the industry participants. A further workshop is planned at the end of November for larger trainers and breeders to discuss their role in the reforms, following significant input and comments by participants and stakeholders at these workshops and other forums held by GRV across the State throughout 2016, a new suite of rule changes is being proposed to build on animal welfare and race track initiatives put in place over the past year.
The proposed changes will strengthen ownership and re-homing responsibilities, further restrict euthanasia, ensure education and socialisation of greyhounds, set a minimum age for breeding, require trainers to report health and injury issues, and require owners to report the death, transfer or re-homing of greyhounds. The changes cover Local Rule 42.6, an Australian first which was introduced earlier this year, that requires owners to make their best efforts in re-homing their greyhounds. It’s proposed to amend this this rule by clealry specifying the minimum GRV requirements for re-homing dogs and making it a serious offence heard by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board if owners fail to meet these requirments. You can find out more about the proposed changes and make a submission about them at: greyhoundcare.grv.org.au/rules-of-racing/
Turning to greyhound racing and the community, I am really pleased when I see the industry, the clubs and the community link arms with GRV; and together we give, not only money, but a sense of passion and pride, through events such as the TAB Great Chase which culminated at The Meadows recently. For 14 years, The Great Chase has been one of the most popular, successful and important community campaigns in Victorian greyhound racing. GRV and its clubs have raised more than $500,000 for hundreds of community groups supporting the elderly and the intellectually and physically disabled.
Over the past two months, every Victorian greyhound racing club has dedicated one race meeting in the TAB Great Chase Race Series to their local community groups. The groups were matched with greyhounds running on the day for the opportunity to share in a $2000 prize pool and enjoy the spectacle of greyhound racing. Each of these groups went into the draw to be matched to one of the eight dogs running in the final. The community group that draws the winning greyhound wins $10,000 and the other seven groups each win $2000 while everyone enjoys a fun filled day at the Meadows.
Thanks to a wonderful run by Promises Kept, the McCallum Disability Services group now has $10,000 to invest in the fantastic work it is doing to help those less fortunate in the Ballarat community.
Other developments in October included Heidi Lester joining GRV as Chief Steward. Heidi brings a wealth of experience having worked with RVL for many years and is a very experienced steward, have served as Chief Stipendiary Steward with the Macau Jockey Club. Karen Lees, who has done a great job of leading the Stewards department for the past 6 months, is now taking on the role of Business & Program Manager in GRV’s Integrity Business Unit to develop and advance our regulatory frameworks. I’m also pleased to announce the appointment of Emma Cotsell as our new Foster Care Manager, responsible for co-ordinating all foster care program activities at GAP. And finally I just want to mention some upcoming racing highlights for November. The popular Ready2Race Sales will return with the heats on 19 November and the finals on 24 November, with the auctions on 26 November. This year the Sales will have an increased focus on whole-of-life planning for the greyhounds up for auction. And of course, on 18 November, Sandown will again host the world’s richest greyhound race, the $600,000 Melbourne Cup and I hope to see you there.
Chief Executive Officer
Greyhound Racing Victoria