Kitching an Ipswich first on integrity commission
AS the Queensland racing industry's youngest chief steward, Alex Kitching knows he has immense responsibility.
However, with his Ipswich upbringing, strong work ethic and higher level support, Kitching is confident of handling any challenges.
Kitching, turning 28 this month, was recently appointed Chief Greyhound Stipendary Steward with the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC).
"I'm very excited to be handed the opportunity,'' Kitching said.
"Having been involved in the industry for almost two decades, I've always had a keen interest in racing and sport and am looking forward to the future.''
The former Ipswich Grammar School student was chosen to enforce the Rules of Racing.
He's responsible for managing Queensland greyhound racing stewarding operations, maintaining the highest levels of integrity and industry credibility to ensure race day operations are effective.
This includes ensuring the highest policy and regulatory standards are fulfilled and meeting the expectations of the public, racing industry and stakeholders.
Kitching officiates at race meetings, managing and resolving all race meeting issues that arise.
He also manages race day, trial and track work swabbing, audit and testing activities.
The QRIC was established in July 2016 following the 2015 MacSporran Commission of Inquiry into the greyhound industry following revelations of animal cruelty in an ABC Four Corners program.
As a result, the integrity functions from all three codes of racing were separated from the commercial aspects of racing.
The QRIC was set up to independently regulate the three codes of racing to ensure a level playing field for all racing participants and the betting public.
QRIC Commissioner Ross Barnett said Kitching was the youngest person in the role of chief greyhound steward since the QRIC began.
He said having talented young people like Kitching on the Commission was advantageous for the future.
"While Alex's age was not a contributing factor in his appointment to his new role, it is encouraging that younger people have an interest in becoming involved in the greyhound racing industry,'' he said.
"In this world of new technology, young people bring new ideas to the industry as we move to improve and upgrade the way we run the industry, including licensing and registration of participants.
"QRIC is moving towards licensing our participants online, something that is second nature to our young participants.''
Among the Commission's valuable role is ensuring the welfare of all racing animals, including safeguards, administrative and best practice duties.
Commissioner Barnett said Kitching's appointment was part of a competitive process.
"Alex has an excellent knowledge and great passion for the greyhound industry,'' he said.
"It's this passion to ensure the integrity of the industry that made him the best candidate to take the industry forward.''
Commissioner Barnett was confident Kitching would bring important qualities to the racing industry.
"Alex has a family history in racing, and his interest and passion for the industry is ingrained,'' he said.
"He has a real passion to ensure the industry is run with integrity with animal welfare the highest priority.''
Kitching's initial appointment is to look after greyhound racing.
"Alex will be mainly focussed on the greyhound industry at this stage,'' Commissioner Barnett said.
"However other stewards work across all codes of racing to broaden their integrity knowledge of the racing industry.''
QRIC has a chief steward for each code. Kitching joins Allan Reardon (Chief Stipendiary Steward for Thoroughbred Racing) and David Farquharson (Chief Steward for Harness Racing) in Queensland.
Barnett, APM, was appointed as Queensland's first Racing Integrity Commissioner on May 1, 2016, for three years.
He is a former Deputy Commissioner of the Queensland Police Service who worked for nearly 40 years as one of the state's most distinguished officers.
The Commissioner has experience working in major crime and drug squads and has served in a number of senior investigative roles at the National Crime Authority, the Australian Crime Commission and the Queensland Crime Commission.
He has served as Deputy Commissioner for Specialist Operations and was the Police Commander for the G20 Leaders' Summit in 2014.
Commissioner Barnett was asked what advice he had given Kitching to help further his career.
"To ensure that the role of the steward to maintain the integrity of the industry and ensure healthy relationships with industry participants, because there will be times the he must reprimand participants therefore he can't be compromised,'' he said.