The year since our last AGM has largely been one of consolidation.
Our overall membership numbers have not grown dramatically for the first time in many years, despite growth in some of the smaller regions. We have, however, strengthened our position in several states by locating hub equipment in APANA funded locations, independent of any individual member, as Melbourne has already done. This not only gives us a more stable base from which to provide services, it allows many more of our members to become involved in the running of the organisation.
Unfortunately, APANA seems to be suffering from flagging interest from the members. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find people willing to become involved in running APANA. To keep an organisation of 1000+ people going, we need volunteers at all levels, from the technical, needed for setting up and maintaining our core systems and our public access sites, to the administrative skills required to coordinate the efforts of the regions and manage APANA's funds, through to the "publicity" people who encourage new members to join and help them through the initial steps.
Over the last 3 years, I have gained a great deal from the time I have spent working for APANA, and would recommend to anyone that they become as involved with the organisation as their time and skills allow. I think that APANA's community based approach is one of the key factors that distinguishes us from most of the other Internet Service Providers. How many of you reading this were helped by an APANA volunteer in setting up your Internet connection? How many of you would not have the same degree of experience and connectivity if you had not had APANA around?
Even if you only help two more people connect up to APANA, you'll have done us a great service. If you become more involved, you'll find that you're benefitting as much as the people you are assisting. Without member involvement, our outlook is bleak. With it, we can continue to be a prime example of how the Internet is meant to be run, with everyone contributing what they can and more people benefitting as a result.