With more than 20 years’ experience working in the clubs sector, Terry McDonald stepped into the role of President with Clubs Queensland at the AGM on March 27, with a view to continue to grow Clubs Queensland services whilst also working with the team to deliver more legislative reform.
McDonald replaces Don Seccombe AM who has held the role since 2009 and chose not to stand for re-election.
McDonald, 63, has been a member of Nerang RSL for 26 years (since 1993) and has served on the Board since 1994, having previously spent 20 years in the army’s Royal Australian Armoured Corps.
In 1996 McDonald was elected President of Nerang RSL and is largely credited with turning around the struggling club’s fortunes to its current success where the club has received a number of industry awards and accolades and now services a membership base in excess of 45,000 members.
In 2017, McDonald was presented with the MAX Service to Industry Award at the Keno and Clubs Queensland Awards for Excellence, in recognition of his contribution to the community club industry.
“I see a lot of similarities between the military and clubs,” McDonald said. “Both require discipline and regulation and we need to live what we are saying.
“When I retired from the military my wife Gail and I moved to the Gold Coast, the RSL ethos was part of my DNA, that is helping your mate and the community. I wanted to put my hand up and do something for the community and get involved.
“I am a very passionate believer in the value of what clubs do. I had previously been on the Board of Clubs Queensland for 13 years, taking a break only to oversee the redevelopment of my club.
“When Don said he wasn’t going to stand again I was approached for the role and put my hand up because I know we work in a very unique industry, and the position of President really needs a hands-on approach and knowledge of industry so we can maximise beneficial outcomes for both members and the industry overall.”
It’s about unity
McDonald is emphatic that Clubs Queensland can and should be one unified voice for the community clubs’ sector, where clubs of all sizes are represented and support each other.
“We have nearly 1,000 clubs in Queensland and 860-plus clubs that have liquor or gaming facilities yet only half of those are members and the majority are smaller clubs. I want to grow this as it will allow us to provide better services to more clubs, which should also assist with underpinning relevance and viability for the industry overall.”
“There is some work which needs to be done here and we will not shy away from it,” McDonald said. “How can clubs remain viable as part of our communities into the future when we are constrained by different rules to that faced by the casino and other sectors which have different trading hours and more favourable taxation?
“Clubs Queensland is very proactive in our engagement with government and have found both sides of government to be very open and receptive to the voice of Clubs Queensland.
McDonald said he is most looking forward to getting out into the community and talking with club leaders, particularly in regional areas which have been besieged by drought and then flood, to see how he and Clubs Queensland can help them.
“I want to see how we can nurture our smaller clubs so they remain relevant in their own communities,” he added.
“We work in such a unique industry where everything is for the community; everything is community based. But it needs Clubs Queensland’s support and we want them to know we are a voice and a strong ally of support for them so they can keep going forward.”
Improving Director training
McDonald is also particularly passionate about helping clubs to establish systems where the training of Directors for the club’s Board becomes an immediate priority.
“Clubs have evolved a lot over the last 35 years, where they have gone from small operations which required friendly people at the bar to be on the Committee, to something that is appropriately highly regulated and responsible today,” he explained.
“We need to make sure Director training across the board is exactly the same for small and large clubs, to ensure quality governance is appropriately enacted and practiced.
“Mostly, the Directors are still voluntary, but their role has evolved from being a group of friends making sure a club survives, to now, where there are reams of corporate governance and legislative compliance Directors need to know is being adhered to.
“This will only get more onerous so there needs to be more consistent training that is offered to large and small clubs in general, and Directors need to be invested to experience and endorse the best training. That may also mean more online training rather than face-to-face.
“The challenge now is to also endeavor to attract Directors that have a professional background which they can bring to the role. That means being more proactive in attracting this expertise rather than reactive.
“And with increasing competition from casino expansion and integrated resort development in Brisbane and proposed for the Gold Coast, the more experienced Directors we can attract, the better for our sector.”
On a personal note
McDonald is confident he brings the knowledge, experience and passion for change to lead the union of employers for the clubs sector into the future. He is excited about putting his stamp on the role.
“For the last 11 years the Clubs Queensland Board has done a great job of setting the tone,” he added. “Now we need more acceptance of the path set and I am hopeful we will achieve unity as we work towards this.
“The legacy I intend to introduce as President, is ongoing unity within our sector so we continue to deliver for Queensland’s clubs whilst heading in the direction of ongoing relevance and sustainability."
McDonald has also proven to be an adept businessman having owned the Nerang Fair Tavern and, in 2004, starting his own successful cleaning company which is still operating.
He has also held leadership positions with Surfers Paradise Surf Lifesaving Supporters Club, Benowa Bowls Club and Canungra RSL.
When not working or volunteering in various roles, McDonald and his wife of 43 years enjoy being with their grandchildren and caravanning, the latter where they wander off for three to five days at a time to explore different locations and just relax.
Corvette cars is also another love of Terry’s however his wife Gail is likely to suggest it’s more like an addiction.