27th May, 2021 — Road safety

The secretary's strategy

Laree Bastin is the proud secretary of the Ascot Cricket Club (ACC) in Western Australia. Lately, Laree’s also a woman on a mission – dedicated to changing her club for the better. She’s leading the charge to implement practical smoking, alcohol management and safe transport strategies at her club.

Managing the ACC and its members is truly a family affair. Laree’s husband Kelvyn is the club president, and together with their son (who is also on the committee), are driven by a love of cricket and the members to work hard for their club.

“Everyone’s involved”, Laree says. And for members who love celebrating wins the ‘old-fashioned way’, Laree says this is “something the club’s never done before” and has been quite the journey.

Time to declare the need for alcohol management change at Ascot Cricket Club

“I think our policies date back to 1999”, laughs Laree when asked about what brought on the change. Steps towards real change started with Laree, who looked at the alcohol management policies in place and felt they really needed review. “Things sort of sit there and don’t get looked at” Laree admits. 

Laree’s efforts to formally change the club’s policies came about when she was contacted by the Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) about Good Sports accreditation. “That’s what prompted it all”, says Laree. “If I hadn’t been contacted by Good Sports, I don’t think I’d have looked as deeply into things as what I have”.

Laree proudly explains that the policies ACC now have in place are “a lot more specific”. “We need to recognise that times have changed”, Laree says. There was a lack of understanding at the club regarding alcohol management policies, with some members viewing these proposed changes as part of a “nanny state” mentality. Because members were worried it was a push to completely get rid of alcohol at the club, Laree discussed the new policies with the club openly and with a collaborative spirit. 

Ridesharing strategies and iTunes cards – small initiatives, big results

One of the strategies put in place was a club account with ridesharing app Ola (similar to Uber). Previously Laree had been driving club members home herself - an ambitious but unsustainable plan. “I spent most nights driving all over the community!”, Laree laughs. 

Laree admits introducing the Ola club account to predominately older members (aged between 40 and 60) has definitely been a challenge. “They’re not tech savvy, and many don’t have smartphones”. Laree put up signs around the club that say, "if you need a ride, ask at the bar" and the committee member on duty, aka "the Ola guy", organises transport on their behalf. Club members' families overwhelmingly welcomed this new initiative, many of whom tend to socialise at the club after matches and practice sessions.

Another change has been to the ‘Player of the Match’ prize, awarded at the end of each match. “We used to just give away a $20 bar voucher”, Laree explains. As part of a new Good Sports policy, they offered non-alcohol prizes such as vouchers for ball fees, and gift cards for places like Coles Myer stores to iTunes. Not as a replacement to the bar tab prize, but as an option.

The club response to this change has been surprising, Laree says. “The entire season so far…no one has selected the $20 bar voucher.” Previously underaged Player of the Match winners were awarded $20 worth of soft drinks at the bar. Understandably, Laree felt this was not an appealing or appropriate prize for the younger players. “So, they’re loving the movie vouchers”, says Laree.

Laree, the leader of a cricket club’s proud and healthy new era

Implementing change is always a challenge, Laree says, but the members are largely on board with the new strategies. Some of the more practical changes, including free meals being provided at the bar, have been popular. “Before, they were sitting there after the game, drinking, dehydrated, but now they get to have a meal”, Laree says. 

Laree says the new policies will reduce excessive alcohol consumption and assist in “most importantly getting people home safe”.  She’s noticed that membership numbers have gone up, while alcohol consumption has gone down at the bar since this change was introduced. “We can still have alcohol at the club, it’s just up to us to manage it properly”.

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