The biggest highlight of August was undoubtedly the Victorian Greyhound Awards at Sandown Park where many of Victoria’s greyhound racing community came together to celebrate some great achievements over the past 18 months. Fernando Bale was quite rightly judged greyhound of the year and I congratulate all the nominees and winners on the night. Both the Premier, The Hon Daniel Andrews, and the Minister for Racing, The Hon Martin Pakula, also provided strong messages of support on the night for the industry and for the reforms now underway. The Victorian Greyhound Awards was a great showcase of the commitment, passion and hard work of the good people who have driven the sport’s achievements and that will underpin the journey of reform we need to take to secure its long term future.
August also saw the conclusion of GRV’s first series of Stakeholder Engagement Workshops, attended by over 600 people. Following the great contribution made by participants who either presented or attended the workshops, GRV will be holding a further three workshops in regional Victoria this month and you can find out more on the GRV website. The workshop discussions were very much driven by participants and generated many constructive proposals for a range of issues from breeding controls, to rearing and training, to improving opportunities for smaller scale participants. GRV is already acting on some of these proposals and has provided to all 13 Clubs the recommendations and suggestions made by panel experts and participants who attended the ‘Track Safety, Track Design and Lures’ workshop and the Clubs have each submitted a plan to improve the safety of our tracks. So you can expect to see a number of changes to tracks as we strive to make them safer. On this issue, race day trials of the hoop arm lure system to reduce injury rates have now also been completed and GRV is studying the results with a view to making a decision on future lures for Victorian racetracks.
In other news, I was pleased to announce last month the appointment of Shane Gillard as GRV’s first General Manager of Integrity. Shane brings more than 20 years’ experience in management and leadership across a variety of sectors including senior compliance and enforcement roles with WorkSafe Victoria. He will lead GRV’s much expanded Integrity Department which will be increasingly busy over the coming year with an expanded swabbing program and a stronger focus on working directly with participants to ensure compliance through new education and information initiatives. The Department now also has a new 24/7 phone hotline on 1300 856 109 to confidentially report suspicious activity and, as well, its Investigations Unit will be engaging more closely with participants to make everyone part of the solution in ensuring the sport’s integrity.
While much has been achieved over the past year in positioning the sport in Victoria for a sustainable future, the decision to close down greyhound racing in NSW makes it clear the rate of reform in Victoria cannot slow down. Over the next six months, GRV will be picking up the pace as its capital works program rolls out, as new race day injury and treatment initiatives are put in place and as it works towards the goal of giving all Victorian greyhounds the opportunity to live out their lives in full. GAP will also keep growing, with a new assessment centre at Mt Mercer in Central Victoria and the expansion of GAP Seymour to promote and educate people about greyhounds as pets.
Chief Executive Officer
Greyhound Racing Victoria