NSW Joint Working Group hands down final report

THE NSW Joint Working Group has officially handed in its final report to Greyhound Racing NSW Interim CEO Paul Newson.

The report will aim to assist in providing recommendations to ensure the future of the greyhound racing industry within the state.

The JWG was formed late last year and has held several meetings to discuss the various options and strategies to be put forward, with the final report tabling a total of 20 recommendations regarding pivotal issues such as animal welfare, integrity, racing, club structure, governance and industry sustainability as a whole.

The JWG was lead by Wayne Billett, GRNSW General Manager Industry Reform, and also included members of the greyhound racing industry and various other stakeholders with a keen interest in ensuring the sport’s longevity.

The recommendations put forward by the JWG are outlined below.

Recommendation 1: Expanding the current system of greyhound registration and monitoring to cover the entire lifecycle of each dog. This includes periodic assessment of greyhounds at key lifecycle changes by integrity and compliance officers.

Recommendation 2: Expanding the current licensing of greyhound racing participants to cover the entire lifecycle of each dog. This would involve introducing a minimum standard together with the completion of an educational qualification (with exemptions in place for the recognition of prior learning). This recommendation would also require the introduction of a single licensing process for participants who would only be approved for the components of the lifecycle for which they have applied and been approved (i.e. rearers, trainers). The JWG also suggested that there should be different tiers of licensing for hobbyists and professionals, with different requirements for each. Periodic licence renewal for all of the above would be subject to greyhounds in the participant’s care meeting the appropriate outcomes.

Recommendation 3: That the minimum standard introduced be informed by further consultation by GRNSW and be accompanied by an education campaign for greyhound handlers which should be focused on improving awareness of the reforms. The JWG made the recommendation that educational materials and training programs should be developed to allow participants to gain the skills required to meet the new standards, while public reporting should also be expanded in relation to the regulation and licensing of greyhound racing participants.

Recommendation 4: GRNSW should obtain legal advice on the most appropriate process on introducing a breeding quotes and whether it is legally enforceable under the current legislation. Pending this advice, GRNSW should undertake estimation of a state-wide breeding quota, which would identify a phase in period, with the quota to be reviewed every six months and after two years to ensure its effectiveness. As a part of this recommendation, GRNSW should advocate for the introduction of a national breeding target with Greyhounds Australasia and the other member organisations.

Recommendation 5: GRNSW should investigate the success of greyhound re-homing activities undertaken in the United States and other countries as well as across Australia to identify the best practice to apply in NSW. In addition to this, GRNSW should also look into the various options for funding greyhound re-homing including an optional levy for owners at the time of naming, the application of a prize money levy or an increased registration/license fee for owners. The JWG also suggested advocating with Greyhounds Australasia for the introduction of a national approach to greyhound adoption. GRNSW should also increase its efforts in improving the public’s perception of greyhounds as pets, with an increased focus on regional NSW.

Recommendation 6: GRNSW should look further into the Centre of Excellence concept to identify the optimum number of race meetings, type of meetings, the specific features of a Centre of Excellence, the locations of Centres of Excellence Hub and Spoke tracks and the costs of establishing and running a Centre of Excellence.

Recommendation 7: That GRNSW prepare a strategy for Metropolitan Racing, including the vision it has for the future of ‘city’ racing and identifying the facilities and infrastructure required to fulfil this vision.

Recommendation 8: A new structure should be introduced for GRNSW which separates the regulatory and commercial functions of the authority body.

Recommendation 9: The JWG has indicated that a new board structure for GRNSW should be introduced comprising of five independent and two independently selected industry representatives. The chosen board members would have to meet a skills matrix which includes specific finance, risk, governance, community relations, marketing, legal, regulatory skills and animal welfare experience.

Recommendation 10: Enhanced transparency and accountability through increased frequency and expanded reporting by GRNSW to the government, the public and the greyhound industry. This includes the development of a comprehensive reporting framework to address regulation throughout the lifecycle. It would also address reporting publicly on specific animal welfare issues such as injury, fatalities and injury related euthanasia and reporting publicly against the strategic plan to demonstrate improvement.

Recommendation 11: The JWG has recommended that a greyhound racing Integrity Commissioner be appointed.

Recommendation 12: The establishment of a new advisory committee, one name suggestion being the Greyhound Racing Strategy Advisory Committee.

Recommendation 13: As a minimum, the club board requirements should involve a five to seven member board, with at least two to three of those members being independent directors possessing a mix of skills.

Recommendation 14: An enhanced club governance model should be adopted with clubs to introduce a standard constitution across the state. Additionally, GRNSW should develop a new club reporting framework to increase the accountability of clubs which should include risk management plans and financial accounts. The JWG suggested GRNSW play a role in the selection of the Club Board and Manager and that the current legislation be changed to enable GRNSW to conduct race meetings in the event that a club has failed to meet its obligations.

Recommendations 15: That the aims of the grading policy be amended to include the objective ‘Provides the opportunity for the greatest possible number of greyhounds to participate in racing, irrespective of their racing capability, age or experience.’

Recommendation 16: A priority should be that GRNSW finalise the review of the NSW grading policy and consider: integrating the masters guideline into the grading policy, the introduction of additional grades to cater for younger and less experienced greyhounds as well as less competitive greyhounds so that they are protected and compete against greyhound of a similar age, experience and ability level for longer. The JWG also recommended that the eligibility requirements for all grades be further analysed.

Recommendation 17: That GRNSW develop specific objectives in relation to race programming which should then be applied by clubs for their future programming decisions. In regards to this, if necessary, GRNSW should proactively influence club programming in the future to ensure the objectives of the grading policy as being met. It was also suggested that GRNSW should look into the feasibility, including the financial implications, of introducing preferential box draws and six dog races.

Recommendation 18: GRNSW should undertake a review of the current prize money scheme with the view to increase the average prize money, with the consideration of flattening prize money to achieve a minimum prize money target of $1,000 to the winner of TAB races. As a part of this recommendation, the preparation of the Metropolitan Racing Strategy (as mentioned in recommendation 7) should include a review of the metropolitan prize money distribution model.

Recommendation 19: GRNSW should undertake or commission the analysis of potential proposals to reduce track related interference. There should also be additional support into increasing the amount of distance racing across the greyhound life cycle, the optimum number and mix of races should be identified, while the feasibility of introducing straight track racing, including racing for 10 starters, should also be investigated.

Recommendation 20: GRNSW should develop a financial model which would allow for the examination of: the financial requirements for greyhound welfare and regulation, the sensitivity of industry revenues to changes in race numbers and programming, the identification of the optimum number of tracks and the number of meetings at each track, the financial impact of the different standards of Centres of Excellence and the changes to prize money allocation.

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