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There are a variety of groups and clubs, such as local clubs, usually covering a variety of interests; special interest groups; state clubs; and national bodies.
Some clubs, including local clubs, run significant events, such as Field Days, Hamfests, "Hamvention", and Transmitter Hunts (also called "Fox Hunts").
Clubs, especially local and specialist ones, can play an important role in mentoring (or "Elmering") new Amateurs. They my be able to provide practical assistance with setting up equipment.
Many countries have a peak body which represents the Amateur community, including to the national government, which regulates the hobby. (Some are more successfully than others.)
The largest groups publish high quality magazines which appeal to Amateurs beyond their borders, and thus have large numbers of overseas members.
* A reference to radio equipment which can receive between the "dits" and "dahs" of transmitted Morse code, allowing interruption to request re-transmission, or for emergency traffic.
When the WIA changed from a federal body, with branches in each state and major territory, to a single national company, some state divisions voted themselves out of existence, while others, especially those with significant broadcast facilities, continued as the lead body within their state.
Overseas, organisations such as the ARRL have large "Divisions", and smaller "Sections".
These provide a social group for local Amateurs. Some run a local repeater, others provide training and examination services, some form teams to take part in contests. Some have permanent clubrooms, with an extensive station with capabilities on many bands, and modes of operation; others meet at a community or scout hall, or SES training rooms.
With COVID-19, many groups are meeting via systems such as Jitsi, or streaming meetings via Facebook, etc. The upside is that it can be possible to take part in a meeting beyond normal travelling distance.
If a web search for "amateur radio + your location" is unhelpful, finding your national association may be helpful, as there is often a listing of local or affiliated clubs. The IARU region pages below list national bodies.
"Makerspaces" or "Hackerspaces", essentially community technology workshops, in some cases have Amateurs among their membership. An example is Sydney's Robots & Dinosaurs, a play on "R&D", which usually stands for Research & Development.
Some clubs support special interests; or are for certain groups of Amateurs. Some are city-wide, some national, others global.
While not strictly a club, The Australian Travellers Net provides an important service to travelling amateurs.
Around the world there are groups which assist during disasters, and often support community events as part of their training.
In Australia there are groups in each state and territory. They started as sub-committees of the WIA branches, so were named WICEN, standing for "Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network".
In NSW, for example, WICEN NSW Inc is now an independent group, and part of the VRA. In the past few years this group has supported several searches in remote and rugged bushland.
A directory of WICEN groups can be found here: WICEN
Others are the UK's RAYNET, Ireland's AREN, NZ's AREC, the US's ARES & RACES, plus SATERN and SKYWARN and Canada's ARES.
The International Amateur Radio Union represents Amateurs to ITU-R, and assists in the development of Amateur Radio globally and regionally. It consists of a global body, and three regional bodies, reflecting the three regions of the ITU. The sites also list member societies, so can help you find yours.
Written by Julian Sortland, VK2YJS & AG6LE, November 2020
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