The ASTC is failing us

Exactly a year to my previous article about why you should be a part of the ASTC, I feel disgruntled and disappointed in the direction the organisation is headed.

Sadly, I was a part of the committee until a few weeks back. I resigned because I didn’t think I was delivering any value to our members. And that, unfortunately, is the bitter truth.

Over the last few weeks, a couple of ASTC members have expressed disappointment on the value the membership provides as well as the lack of communication from the committee. I’ve been a member of the ASTC (Australian Society for Technical Communication Incorporated) for the last 10 years or so (on and off) in its various forms – firstly the state based Vic organisation and then the TWIA/ASTC in its latest form. I agree with the sentiments of these members.

It is not a Australia specific issue. The wider and bigger STC has faced a fair amount of questioning and introspection from its members over the value it provides as it stands today.

I am based in Melbourne and we have a few things going for us the last 2 years, mainly the conference and local events, which have either reduced or completely disappeared from other states. The committee has tried to involve members locally to organise or put their hand up for managing meetups. We (while I was a part of the committee) did not get many responses. You can’t be serious about having a “community” if you do not want to get involved. Suggest an idea, recommend a speaker, arrange an impromptu meetup.

Almost all of the training workshops/events organised have been either Sydney or Melbourne based and I can see why members from other states feel alienated. It is almost as if they don’t exist.

These are a few ideas that I am happy to put out there for debate, discussion and comments:

  • There has not been enough membership drives to attract new members. This needs to be top of the list.
  • The committee structure as it currently stands is not working. To me (and having worked as part of this very same committee), it is outdated and archaic. I understand it is an organisation and it has to adhere to rules, but it is time to look at our charter.
  • Adopt an agile methodology around committee actions/decisions. Similar to successful IT teams, have sprints of actionable items that need to be delivered within the sprint.
  • Separate communication activites from committee memberships. You should not have to be a committe member to help with sending out mailouts or tweets on behalf of the ASTC.
  • Work with the recruitment agencies to form partnerships and value-add for members.
  • Work with other non tech writing organisations (outside the current TCANZ, SOCEDS etc) to have reciprocal arrangements. For example, Content Strategy, User Experience etc.
  • For the next 2 years, cut the membership rates by 50% as goodwill and prove why membership to ASTC is worth it.
  • Provide certificate of appreciation/participation for volunteers if they volunteer for ASTC events (local or national conference).

2 thoughts on “The ASTC is failing us

  1. Well yes, it’s difficult to sell membership when it’s actually cheaper to attend everything as a non-member.

    Maybe we should just all get together and argue about 9/11 and climate change – works for some tech writing communities :b

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