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President's Update for August

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At the beginning of this year, the AWA Board set out to define the direction for AWA. One of the key directives we agreed upon was to build a foundation to meet the needs of our current membership demographics. We decided to build a platform that will help us further our strategic goals of not only growing our member base, but also engaging with our members more effectively.

To achieve this we realized that our digital hub needed to improve significantly. Previous AWA Boards have done a great job to get us on the web, but more was needed. Our members do engage via social media but also interact more personally at our various activities and events. Our digital home needed to reflect all of these better. Some of the back-end functionalities of our website were outdated and were causing a tremendous amount of unnecessary work for our time-poor volunteers.  

Our Board decided to bite the bullet and create a new website. As you can imagine, this is a daunting task for a volunteer based organization. We obviously had a very limited budget to take on this work, so some of the functionalities that would have been nice to have were sacrificed for the ones that we had to have. The must-haves include:

- A mobile friendly web site: We could not function in the Google ruled world without a web site that complied with their rules. The old website did not comply and if we want to increase our membership numbers, people need to be able to find us.

- Integration of the social media platforms: We wanted to have a comprehensive interlinked hub. The conversation takes place on social media, but it does not have to be only out there. We bring some of those conversation into the web site through our 'What's New' section.

- Membership profile: We don't have a physical address to bring all of our members together but you can put a face to a name in the directory through our membership profile tool. It makes connecting easier and you get to recognize your fellow AWA members on the street. We are cognizant of your need for privacy, so we have made this tool voluntary and ensured there is limited access to the information by the general public. Only members that log in have access to contact information.

- Clear Event and Activity sections: These sections are self explanatory. We will be adding on to these segments as we continue with our improvements to AWA. Keep an eye out for further additions that aim to enhance your user experience.

There will be more initiatives to come that will build on this start. In the coming months, we will work on developing partnership programs to help with our members that are looking to settle in Australia, even for a brief period, to find professional and volunteer work. 

Please keep in mind all this work is done by volunteers, most of whom have full time jobs and families. Be generous with your feedback, and let us know how we can improve AWA, and how you can help us to do it better.

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