WE NEED YOUR HELP! πŸ™πŸ‰πŸ™
After nearly 30 years as tenants of John Gardiner Reserve, our landlord, Auburn High School, has decided not to renew our licence to use the sporting fields after the end of this year.

We think the School is being unreasonable and not acting in a manner consistent with Department of Education policy which encourages community use of School facilities outside school hours. We have made our case calmly to them for some months now, to no avail. To help them see the impact this decision will have, we now need your help.

The link below is to a petition asking the School to keep the reserve available for community use. Can you please consider it and if you support the cause, add your name to it and share it to family and friends to do likewise. Obviously the more names the better.

http://chng.it/HsfHHsyLSK

This is not just about our rugby club, it is about the needs of communities across Melbourne who face a huge shortfall in sports playing fields and how we as a city make the most of, what are after all, community assets.

More background
The Club Committee were first informed of this decision in June and as you can imagine, have since done everything we can to convince the School to change its mind, but after months of back and forth that included in September being invited to formally apply for tenancy in 2021, the decision to not renew our licence was confirmed on 20 October. The School’s decision does not only affect Kiwi Hawthorn, we have been informed that there will be no community sports use of the fields going forward.

The School’s explanation for this decision is that their growing student numbers mean they are looking to make greater use of the rugby pitch and want to upgrade it and use it for multiple sports. The School also wants to use the pavilion as teaching space. In addition, they cite the cost of hiring the fields as prohibitive.
The Committee feel that there is scope to accommodate the School’s needs and those of the community on what is after all, Victorian Government and therefore community land, but the School have been unwilling to date to discuss options or try to find a workable solution for all.

Our plans
Since 20 October we have taken a little time to consider our options and have sought input from Rugby Victoria, other users of the space, City of Boroondara, the local Member of Parliament John Kennedy MP and other community groups.

The City of Boroondara have told us there is currently no space available for our Club on their sports fields. Allocations for winter sport are made in January/February each year and we have been asked to make a formal application at that time. Council have an allocated field for rugby in their sports plan and we are hopeful that we may be allocated use of that field, but we will not know for sure till Feb/March next year.
Given the above, we are now looking for ways to show the School the impact their decision will have on the local community and hopefully convince them of the need to work together to find a solution that benefits both School and community.

What this means for your Club
Kiwi Hawthorn is nearly 100 years old. The Club has faced difficulties, been through pandemics, wars and moved grounds on multiple occasions. We have no intention of letting this setback stop us. We will play on in 2021 and we will celebrate our centenary in a big way in 2023.

Rugby teaches all who play it that part of life is being knocked down from time to time, but you can get up and you can play on. That is exactly what we intend to do. We will find a way.

For our Junior players, we have already been able to secure the use of Anderson Park in Hawthorn East to continue our very successful Summer Hawthorn Touch7s competition on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in Feb/March next year. We have a few more months before next winter season and we are confident, with your help, we will find a way and be back with a strong start to 2021.

As a Committee we take enormous strength from the quality of people we are fortunate enough to have as players, parents, volunteers and supporters of our Club. Particularly at this time, we are very grateful to have your support.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Mark Russell
President
Kiwi Hawthorn Rugby Club