I don't think I've ever been so happy to pen a December editorial! While 2020 was a challenging year, 2021 had even more surprises in store for us.
At CHOICE, I've been amazed at what we've been able to achieve alongside our members and supporters despite the difficulties that everybody has been living through.
Just over a month ago, we passed an important milestone, exceeding 200,000 memberships for the first time since 2009. We've been thrilled to see this growth because, if anything, the events of the past few years have demonstrated that, in a crisis, an organisation like ours is more important than ever.
The events of the past few years have demonstrated that, in a crisis, an organisation like ours is more important than ever
Our battles with hand sanitiser are a nice example. When it suddenly became an essential product in 2020, all sorts of businesses began selling it. But CHOICE supporters soon alerted us to the fact that some supposedly alcohol-based sanitisers didn't appear to be high in alcohol.
As this challenge required the expertise of a specialist lab, we asked supporters to chip in to help us test a range of brands. More than 300 responded and the testing they funded revealed problems with both the alcohol content of some sanitisers and the way they were labelled.
Our campaigns team then took up the challenge and by the end of 2020, we had a new mandatory standard for alcohol-based sanitisers, meaning that you're less likely to be misled.
Along the way, we've had to take on other unexpected challenges, such as how to stop health insurers holding onto premiums when they weren't paying out benefits, and how to make sure the reforms recommended by the banking royal commission weren't forgotten.
We've also had to defend past reforms, such as Australia's safe lending laws, which the federal government attempted to repeal – just as home lending and house prices were going through the roof. Many of you signed our open letter and chipped in to help us pay for ads in major newspapers, eventually convincing senators to block this ill-considered plan.
Just last week I spoke to a member who has been with us since 1962. He told me that he still enjoys reading the magazine every month… That was a highlight of my year
What has made all of this easier has been the support we've received from our members. Besides the lovely letters and emails that I've received, it has been amazing to watch our membership grow week after week, demonstrating that a growing number of people value what we do.
Just last week I spoke to a member who has been with us since 1962. He told me that he still enjoys reading CHOICE magazine every month and encouraged us to keep doing our best work. That was a highlight of my year.
As we all prepare to take a well-earned break, I thank you for your support and wish you and those close to you a peaceful and happy season. See you in 2022!