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14 June, 2021

How the Woolshed should operate

With Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) yet to provide any plans for the future of the historic Jondaryan Woolshed, an internal report compiled by a Council officer from discussions with community members and volunteers reveals the ongoing problems plaguing the facility and details a clearer vision for the local attraction.

The about 160-years-old woolshed is the focal point of the Jondaryan Woolshed facility and highlights the core values of the precinct. The woolshed was a hive of activity during the last Jackie Howe Festival held in 2016.

The leaked report titled ‘Volunteers Vision for Jondaryan Woolshed’ details recommendations from a “volunteer’s perspective” which Council may use to create a plan for the future for the facility.

According the document, although the Woolshed’s ongoing closure is put down to COVID-19 and safety issues, the problems with the entity “are far more deep rooted than these issues alone”. 

It lays blame at the management of the facility over the last ten years for the problems at the site with the Woolshed now losing touch with its core purpose and community expectations.

“Most of the volunteer base would agree that watching the management and administration of the Woolshed over the last ten years has been like watching a car crash in slow motion,” the report stated.

“The key issue at the Jondaryan Woolshed is essentially the balancing act of fiscal responsibility versus social and cultural needs.

“[The General Manager] presents an unchallenged tyrannical rule over the facility and play[s] a dominant role in dictating strategic direction of the facility, often without consultation with the volunteer base or community.

 “With the revolving door management at the Woolshed (at least six over the last ten years), the volunteered base sits in a constant state of heightened anxiety.”

Through discussions with volunteers, the report makes recommendations to restructure the management of the Woolshed but without moving the facility out of Council’s control.

This includes breaking the current operations into three sections - events, museum and the caravan park.

The internal document suggests Council could administer the events side by taking bookings for the Woolshed venue and referring customers to preferred suppliers who would “then provide a full service arrangement for running events for clients”. 

The caravan park could be sub-let, while the museum component would be managed by a new not-for-profit incorporated association which would be led by a volunteer committee.

This committee would include representatives from Woolshed volunteer groups, other community members and Council. 

“Based around the existing management structure but with decentralisation of the General Manager role, and provide a direct avenue for the volunteer base to have a more direct line of communication,” the report stated.

“It’s time for the community to regain an element of control and again hold the capability to lead the strategic direction of the facility and restore a focus on the core values and beliefs of camaraderie, family, mateship, toil, history, community and social bonding that the Woolshed has been synonymous in upholding since the original Jondaryan Station was founded and that was fostered in the first community meeting kick starting the preservation movement of the site in 1973.”

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