Rationale Behind the Robinson/Taylor Motion to the 2000 ARA AGM

Regarding the Way Forward for International Rogaining

10 June 2000

ARA Process to Form IRF 2000 (PDF version) [27kb]

Whilst rogaining is an Australian developed sport, with the primary centre of activity still being Australia, rogaines have been held outside Australia for over ten years now. Since 1989 an informally developed International Rogaining Federation has undertaken the administration and development of rogaining internationally. Over that time rogaining has developed significantly in a number of countries outside Australia, particularly Canada, United States, New Zealand and Czech Republic.

For the past few years there has been a recognition that for rogaining to truly grow and mature as an international sport there needed to be a formal and democratic international body established to oversee and manage the sport across the world. Several attempts have been made at achieving this, but to date they have always faltered due to a lack of legitimate, democratic, broad based support. In essence, all previous attempts to establish a representative international rogaining body have been the initiatives of small groups of individuals and who have not had support from any legitimate representative body.

In order to achieve a truly representative international rogaining body, it is necessary to formally engage all the key stakeholders who have, or are expected to have, an interest in such a body. It is a reality that rogaining in the United States is organised and managed within the United States Orienteering Federation (USOF), and rogaining in New Zealand within the New Zealand Orienteering Federation (NZOF). The rogainers of these two countries have voted with their feet as to how they wish to be organised at a national level. Thus, both the USOF and the NZOF are key stakeholders in any internationalization process. Most previous attempts at internationalization have essentially ignored these, and other key stakeholders, preferring to focus communications on a small number of individual rogainers from within different countries who are unlikely to have the authority to represent the peak rogaining body of their country and may or may not represent popular opinion within the rogainers of that country.

To further complicate this process, in 1997 the International Orienteering Federation (IOF) unilaterally declared that they were the world peak body for rogaining and in 1999 advised their national member associations (including the USOF and NZOF) that they should not affiliate with any international body other than the IOF in respect of rogaining. This therefore also makes the IOF a key stakeholder in any process of the internationalization of rogaining.

Other key stakeholders include the national peak rogaining bodies in Canada and the Czech Republic. The Czech Association of Rogaining and Mountain Orienteering (CARMO) is recognised as the peak body in that country. In Canada, up until early 2000, the Canadian Orienteering Federation (COF) was the peak body, but showed little enthusiasm or interest. There have been moves to establish a separate Canadian Rogaining Association (CRA) in 2000 but the current progress on this is unknown to the undersigned. There are also a number of other countries where rogaines have been conducted and liability and insurance issues will mean that there will be peak bodies in these countries that have, knowingly or unknowingly, been responsible for rogaining there. They, or at least the rogainers within their ranks, are also stakeholders.

In order to engage these stakeholders in a formal and legitimate way, it is essential that we have a formal and legitimate body adopting formal and legitimate processes. As has been shown in the past individuals without any formal backing, no matter how committed and well intentioned, cannot effectively engage these stakeholders who are, quite obviously, themselves formal, legitimate and democratic bodies. The ARA is a democratic body that is well recognised as the world’s dominant rogaining association, and the rogaining world is looking to the ARA to provide the leadership and support to this issue that it needs to progress. Only the ARA is able to provide the formal and legitimate basis that the internationalization process needs if it is to be successful.

The essence of this motion is to create a committee, under the umbrella of the ARA, that is representative of rogaining opinion across Australia and the world, and can use the democratic legitimacy provided by the ARA to formally engage all stakeholders and agree the best way forward for establishing a truly representative international peak rogaining body. This committee will have specific tasks and timetables to adhere to and will have a periodic reporting requirement on progress and expectations to the ARA. No individual or group of individuals, acting autocratically, is able to do this.

It has been suggested that approval of this motion will further delay the process of internationalization by nine months (or some other period). The reality is that approval of this motion will actually speed up the process of internationalization. At the end of June 1999 a much less formal group was effectively at the position that this formal group will be as soon as it is formed. However because of the lack of formal structure, democracy and responsibility within this informal group the progress was able to be halted by individuals concerned about the possible outcomes. Proceeding without a formal democratic base will only allow individuals to continue to thwart the consensus view, where they don’t agree with it, and thus ensure that lack of progress continues to be the hallmark of this issue as it has been for the past two years.

It has also been suggested that we should just “adopt an IRF constitution and run with it”. The problem with this approach is that, despite our possible desires to the contrary, Australia and the ARA do not own or control world rogaining. It is owned by the rogainers of the world and controlled by them and, in varying degrees, the various peak bodies of which they are members. Many of these peak bodies were mentioned above. Adopting a constitution that is unacceptable to peak national bodies that represent large numbers of rogainers is of no value. It is also recognised that there is a school of thought that if national orienteering bodies cannot or will not join the international rogaining peak body then separate national rogaining associations should be formed in those countries. That of course is a decision for the rogainers of the countries in question, but the adoption of this motion, and the work of the subsequent committee, will go a long way towards establishing the views of such rogainers and the relative merits of their options.

The key in all of this is to be focused on the process, not on the outcome. It is essential that we get the process right, because if we don’t we will never achieve an outcome. There have been a number of individuals who have either been totally focused on the outcome, without appreciating what was required to achieve it, or who have a preconceived view of the outcome they wanted and were thus concerned with any process that may not lead to it.

All rogainers who truly wish to see the rogaining they know effectively internationalized need to be focused on the process and support of this motion will ensure that we have in place a process that will lead to that effective internationalization.

Richard Robinson
Australian Rogaining Association
10 June 2000

Message from Neil Phillips, IRF President and Peter Taylor, ARA President

23 August 1996

IRF State of Play (PDF version) [21kb]

Recently a group of Australian rogainers have been actively debating a more formal structure for an International Rogaining Federation. This is the state of play.

The current IRF is an informal grouping of prominent rogainers worldwide. With the support of the rogaining community in each country, this body has provided a means to support rogaines in new areas and develop guidelines for the sport. There is now a general consensus that the time has come for this informal grouping to be replaced by a more structured body.

After considerable discussion, including that at a forum last April, the Australian Rogaining Association executive has contacted national orienteering associations in New Zealand, US and Canada asking if they are interested in entering into a more formal federation. If so, the ARA has proposed each country nominating two rogainers to form a steering committee to carry this process through to a constituted IRF. The New Zealand Orienteering Federation has already replied and is willing to proceed. The present IRF supports the ARA's approach.

There will necessarily be a transition phase during this process. During this time, the IRF will continue to function with the support both of the ARA (pursuant to an earlier ARA resolution) and international rogainers. Prior to ARA's move, a sub-committee of the IRF (Nigel Aylott and Rod Phillips from Australia, and Bob Reddick from United States) was engaged in developing a draft to be used as a basis for constituting the IRF. Although any decisions will be the responsibility of the duly nominated steering committee, the subcommittee's report is available to assist it in getting a constitution acceptable to all countries. It will also be used to provide written guidelines for the operation of the current IRF during the transitional phase. These guidelines (and the current IRF) will be superseded by a formal international rogaining federation when it is formed.

Neil Phillips, IRF President
Peter Taylor, ARA President

Motion to change the current international committee into a sustainable federation based on representative national peak rogaining bodies, plus individual observer status for developing regions. This represents the ARA's position as confirmed unanimously by the ARA Council in 2007. The ARA believes that the IRF members should be provided the opportunity to vote on these constitution changes, first submitted in 2001, without any further delay.

Motion to Amend IRF Constitution - Key Changes, with markup [57kb]
Motion to Amend IRF Constitution - Complete, without markup [69kb]

Australian Rogaining Association
January 2009

IRF Constitution Reform - Article for IRF Newsletter Sept 2007 [30kb]

16 September 2007

To: Neil Phillips
International Rogaining Association

IRF Constitution Reform

The Australian Rogaining Association (ARA) is stating below a proposal that would establish a representative and democratic International Rogaining Federation (IRF).

The ARA is the National Peak Rogaining Body for Australia. It was established 28 years ago and comprises of eight state associations with a total of 5980 rogaining members. The ARA is not currently a member of the IRF.

IRF Constitution Reform - Clarification of main issues - April 2008 [51kb]

11 April 2008

Neil Phillips has requested that ARA state the major faults in the current IRF constitution and the benefits of the constitution changes recommended by ARA.

The current body called “IRF” is in many ways a committee of individuals and could more correctly be named “International Rogaining Committee”. The existing IRF constitution clearly states that the IRF is a group of individuals (See constitution sections 5A-5G). Compare this with the ARA constitution (Section 4: Membership) which states “Membership is limited to non-profit-making organisations or associations sharing the object of promotion of the sport of Rogaining and recognised by the Council as representing Rogaining in a particular geographical area”. The ARA believes that the ARA Constitution provides a suitable model for an IRF Constitution. ARA believes that an IRF should be a federation of national rogaining bodies, whilst those countries without national bodies can remain fully included with Observer status.

At best, the current IRF, with its concept of “National Groups”, could be called a virtual federation of virtual rogaining associations. Around the world we do not know of any other federation that has such a structure. A similar case to IRF might be the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Those who know the workings of the IOC would not accept this as a suitable model for international rogaining. The current IRF structure leaves the sport of rogaining exposed to encroachment from other bodies (such as IOF) that could form a rival federation consisting of representative national bodies.

The IRF does not encapsulate the three longest standing rogaining associations in the world. The ARA has for many years argued that it generates the majority of world rogaining activity and therefore should be the core of an international federation. In 2008, with the growth of rogaining in Europe, ARA organises around 40 percent of world rogaining events. Irrespective of how you count the numbers, ARA is the home of rogaining and the view from Australia is that an IRF without Australia is serving itself and the sport poorly. United States Orienteering Federation (USOF) established rogaining in USA in 1989 and has run maybe 200 events. New Zealand Orienteering Federation (NZOF) has been organising rogaines since the early 1990s and has organised more rogaines than anywhere except Australia. Unfortunately, the IRF constitution was established without the buy-in of the established rogaining bodies and hence the IRF fails to effectively represent the sport of rogaining.

It is easy to recruit individuals to form a committee but it takes much effort to form a federation of national bodies. Since the IRF was formally created in 2000, only one new rogaining association has been formed or national group accepted as a member: New Zealand Rogaining Association. A case in point is rogaining in USA. In 2001, the USA representatives were offered three votes on IRF Council as individuals because there was "not enough time to discuss with USOF" [Rod Phillips email to USA representatives]. We understand that USOF would be offered two or three votes and the opportunity to pay annual levies. What incentive is there for USOF to join IRF or for USA rogainers to form an association? Under current arrangements they have a strong voting presence and do not pay hundreds of dollars in annual levies.

Jan Tojnar and Mira Seidl in this forum said: “Czech Rogaining Association (CAR) supports the ARA attitude that the IRF constitution should be established on basis of the national rogaining organizations More than 10 years ago rogaining in our country started as an initiative of few fools. Almost all of the Pilgrim Fathers have left the motion already (except for Mira Seidl) - the whole CAR presidium team has been completely rebuilt... If there was no CAR I’m afraid it could cause there [to not be] any rogaining in the Czech Republic at all. Or it would have been more weakened than it is now.”

The ARA is a successful model for an international rogaining federation. The ARA is a federation of eight state/territory rogaining bodies. Each state association is a legal entity charged with the purpose of supporting rogaining. Each member of ARA Council is nominated by the state rogaining body itself. The ARA, by virtue of its Constitution’s membership structure, has encouraged the development of rogaining associations in Australia.

In 2000, Alan Stradeski announced that he was planning to form a rogaining association in Canada. He was duly given a vote as a Member of the IRF Council. He remained in this position until 2006 even though he was no longer active in the sport and could not therefore represent Canadian rogaining. In the period 2001-2007, Iiro Kakko was given a vote on the IRF representing Finland or Northern Europe (depending on which IRF newsletter you read). But Finland organised its first rogaine event in 2007. According to the current IRF constitution, Iiro should have been nominated by his "National Group" and this process repeated every 2 years, however the evidence contradicts this. If these practices were legal in the period 2000-2007, then they are possible now under the current IRF Constitution. This is not acceptable to the ARA and hence ARA will not join an organisation where individuals are given voting rights alongside formally constituted legal entities.

The current IRF constitution includes votes for commercial groups. The sport of rogaining in Australia has been consistently opposed to commercialisation of rogaining for over 30 years. Although this position has not been filled, it should not have been created in the first place. It is unlikely that any Australian rogaining association could join an IRF that includes in its constitution an opportunity for commercial operators to vote alongside rogaining associations.

The current IRF Constitution currently includes a position for a person nominated by the “Founders of the IRF”. This membership category has consistently been opposed by the ARA because it is not democratic and not necessary. An extensive discussion forum conducted by IRF in 2001-2002, which included all IRF representatives, decided that this membership class should be removed.

A two-year phase in period is proposed, during which time the ARA would jointly work with IRF to lead the development of a strategy for international rogaining and creation of international technical regulations and rules of rogaining. The phase-in period provides a transition to implementation of the reforms without disruption. No individual who currently receives a vote should fear these proposed constitution changes.

The ARA recognises that it is a large entity and there may be some fear that ARA could dominate the IRF Council. To overcome this, ARA has proposed that all National Peak Rogaining Bodies including ARA be provided exactly two votes on the IRF Council. This means that all national bodies will be treated equally for the purpose of voting. This should be recognised as a significant gesture by the ARA towards creating a democratic and representative international federation.

The IRF constitution reforms are accompanied by substantial ARA funding that can be used to support development of rogaining associations. The ARA has agreed to pay an annual fee of US$1 per member (about US$6000). For emerging national bodies, the ARA supports the current constitution clause whereby the IRF waives the subscription. It is essential that the IRF is financially viable so that it has the resources to develop rogaining internationally. ARA can provide those resources.

The ARA proposes to take a lead role in encouraging the creation of rogaining associations or membership of IRF through existing national bodies. To this end, the ARA Council at its 2007 Annual General Meeting discussed the option of targeted funding grants (for example US$1000-$2000 per country) that can be applied as seed funding to ensure establishment of sustainable national bodies. In addition, the ARA has a pool of expertise and knowledge that can be drawn upon to provide an individual assigned to each interested country to guide and assist with the legal and organisational process.

The choice of a suitable national body structure is best made by each country’s representatives and will best suit local circumstances. In answer to Sergey Yashchenko, there is no requirement for a national rogaining body to be recognised or accredited by the national government. ARA is not.

There will always be countries in various stages of development. For those that are not yet ready to form a national body, the Observer category will remain. The ARA proposes that the IRF continue to fully involve and consult both voting Members and Observers in all decision making processes.

The ARA encourages the IRF to adopt the proposed amendments to the constitution outlined in the Taylor/Squires motion.

Australian Rogaining Association
Phillip Holman (President)
Richard Robinson (Treasurer)
David Rowlands (Secretary)