THE Star Observer has managed some spectacular achievements while facing some extremely serious obstacles in the financial year ending June 30, 2014.

As many of you will recall, several of those obstacles led to the need for our crowdfunding campaign in September 2014, where our community successfully worked together to raise $104k in three weeks to protect the Star Observer.

I would like to humbly thank everyone who helped us achieve that success. In the days following that effort, as promised, we used the funds to quickly resolve the threats to our organisation and put in place our business plans.

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Returning to our recently-completed financial year, which is the focus for today, the launch of our new format for the print edition of the Star Observer was a major milestone in our 35 year history, and occurred alongside powerful growth and impressive engagement for our digital and social media audiences.

Our monthly audience is now typically around 135,000 people, and our website audience grew 62 per cent year on year for the 12 months ending October 2014. We have continued to grow our social media presence and audience, and now deliver daily content on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

These achievements are key deliverables in our strategy to ensure the Star Observer remains relevant and accessible to you, our audience.

I won’t pretend that it isn’t disappointing to have to report a loss for another financial year. In the financial year ending June 2014, we achieved revenue of $1.2 million, a 12 per cent decrease on the previous year, incurring a loss of $71,000.

To a large degree, this revenue decline has occurred due to the distractions caused by the threats we faced, and the ongoing financial weakness of the traditional clients that the Star Observer traditionally relied upon in the past for advertising spend — namely small retail and hospitality businesses that focus on inner-city LGBTI customers.

Fortunately, the business strategies that were put in place several years ago have allowed us to mitigate revenue weakness in that small business segment, and we did succeed in rapidly expanding our revenue from partnerships and large national advertisers.

The board continues to believe our current revenue strategy is the lowest risk path for the organisation. However, change does take time, especially when resources and working capital are heavily constrained.

I would like to thank the hard working Star Observer team, which includes employees, unpaid contributors, and volunteers. They have achieved so much over the past year, while facing some daunting challenges.

Our team remains dedicated to bringing you the best in independent journalism, reporting on the issues facing you, our readers. While the road ahead will not be easy, I can see real cause for optimism.

Thank you for support.

Sebastian Rice

Chairman, Star Observer

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