City of Wodonga


Statement from CEO Patience Harrington on recent media reports

Recent reports in the media regarding the closure of the Visitor Information Centre made some very serious claims in regards to the treatment of volunteers associated with the centre.

Meetings were held with volunteers prior to and following the decision to move from a physical centre to multiple digital services and information points to keep them informed.

This was a respectful and constructive meeting at which volunteers were briefed on the decision and the reasons behind it and worked with council staff on the way forward, not only for their individual roles but also tourism development and attraction in the city.

Meetings and discussions are continuing with staff and volunteers as they workshop together the future opportunities.

The council has more than 270 active volunteers that offer assistance across the organisation including at events, with youth activities, at various venues, the community centres, at Bonegilla Migrant Experience and with our tourism activities.

The Visitor Information Centre is one tool the council uses to service visitors to the city.

But the research, data and industry trend shows that less and less people are relying on tourist information centres for information.

This trend is backed by our peak body Visit Victoria and follows similar moves at other prominent sites across the state.

Visitors to Wodonga fall in three primary market – visiting friends and relatives, business and events.

The council will continue to provide in-person servicing at major events with our purpose-built trailer, produce and distribute the visitor guide to key locations and work to promote the city and our tourism assets.

Volunteers with an interest in tourism will continue to have an important role to play in those activities into the future.

We will continue to invest in tourism, particularly through event attraction which brings thousands of people and millions of dollars to the city each year.

Claims of “bullying” are very serious and quite frankly, offensive. At no time have staff been intimidated, threatened or humiliated throughout these discussions.

Staff and volunteers do conduct their roles under a media policy and media protocol which state volunteers are not to comment to the media on behalf of the organisation and refer such inquiries to a supervisor or the communications team. This ensures the correct information is provided to the community and protects our staff and volunteers’ wellbeing from potentially unwanted scrutiny.

Please be assured, Wodonga Council highly values the dedicated volunteers who work across our council services and we look forward to continuing to work with them to determine appropriate volunteering roles and opportunities in the future.

Patience Harrington
Chief Executive Officer

Last updated: 18-05-2017

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