Photo by Abigail Widijanto
By Tara Shenoy and Abigail Widijanto

On Thursday, 19th of June, the ANU Union held their AGM. The ANU Union is a non-profit, student run body that operates a number of services and food outlets within the Union building and around the ANU campus.

Joshua Orchard, Union Chair, convened the meeting. There was a turnout of approximately 30 people, indicative of the general lack of communication between the Union and the student body.

There is a distinct lack of public knowledge about the Union and its activities around ANU. This was addressed by Orchard, with reference to the inadequate use of the website and social media. The ANU Bar was commended for its success with “Groovin the ANU.”

The motions passed at the 2014 AGM included the 2012-2013 Audit Report and the Union Chair’s statement. In 2013, the Union’s total revenue was $4,762,700, which was down from 2012, when the total revenue was $5,227,730.

Maclaren Wall questioned the Union as to this discrepancy. “Revenue seems to be down. Can you clarify?”

To account for the deficit, Business Manager, Alan Harkins pointed towards staffing allowances. An accrual of long-serve leave by the previous General Manager and Financial Manager came to somewhere between $200,000-$300,000. They were on the books, but not officially employed, and cashed out the leave when they retired.

Alan Harkins also commented, “Business receipts are down 10% due to increased competition.”

Other sources of deficit were outlined as due to capital expenditure, an upgrade to the IT systems, market competition with ANU Exchange and the loss of revenue from academic dress. Academic dress provides $300,000, which is less than 10% of the Union’s total revenue.

The Union does not receive any funds from the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). However, they have made submissions for SSAF in negotiations but failed to receive any. The Union intends to apply for SSAF for two programs: the Food-Aid Program and a new initiative, Incubate.

The Food-Aid Program provides $20K of food aid to struggling students through the discretion of the Welfare Officer. The Union intends to apply for SSAF for provision of food-aid as it is a service to students that has clear wider benefit.

The second program, Incubate, is an entrepreneurial, business start-up program that is run by the University of Sydney’s Student Union. Incubate includes 10 grants of up to $5000 to fund student-entrepreneurs. The program also connects student-entrepreneurs with global business leaders.

However, there are two issues with Incubate. Firstly, the name “Incubate” would be difficult to acquire. It is a program that is co-funded by the University of Sydney Student Union and by Google, who owns the rights to the name.

Secondly, ANUSA has already received approval for a similar program. According to Karan Dhamija, a Gen Rep at ANUSA, this approval was not given through the original SSAF proposal, but the program will be funded through the money allocated to the discretionary fund.

When asked for comment, Josh Orchard, Union Chair, stated, “Student services should be provided by the Union.”

The Union’s financial report is not on their website, however it can be made available to any student upon request.