Don't impose commercial standards on community-based bushwalkers
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Outdoors Victoria are writing new "Australian Adventure Activity Standards" (AAAS) for over twenty adventure activities including bushwalking, mountain biking, rock climbing and recreational angling. “Core standards” are also being written for all activities.
John Eren, Minister for Sport, is supporting the writing of these standards.
However, the AAAS Core Standards and Bushwalking AAAS do not recognise there is a difference in the standard of care between leaders of volunteer groups (e.g. a bushwalking club or community group) and commercial operators providing a professional service with paying clients (e.g. guided bushwalks).
However, Outdoors Victoria continue to insist that these "standards” must apply to both commercial and community-based bushwalking groups.
Outdoors Victoria claim the standard(s) are "voluntary" so we can choose to comply with them. This is not correct - the AAAS currently explicitly apply to volunteer bushwalking leaders and clubs.
The increased compliance burden (expense and paperwork) on voluntary community organisations would be disproportionate to the outcomes the standards are seeking to achieve and could lead to many clubs ceasing to operate.
It would be extremely difficult for the volunteers who run clubs and lead bushwalks to demonstrate compliance with the numerous competency units specified in the AAAS from National Outdoor Recreation qualifications.
Consequently, legal liabilities will increase for volunteer bushwalking leaders and clubs and increased insurance costs are very likely.
These standards are simply not suitable for community-based bushwalking activities.
In addition, volunteer bushwalking leaders may be refused access permits by land managers if it is deemed they don’t comply with the AAAS.
Premier Andrews and Minister Eren, the solution to this problem is very simple – the AAAS must state they do not apply to volunteers.
Community-based bushwalking trip leaders will continue to ensure their bushwalks are safe by using and updating a variety of resources on topics including trip planning, trip management, leadership, bushcraft, navigation, first aid and handling emergencies.
Bushwalking Victoria is committed to further develop and promulgate the considerable body of knowledge that informs and guides safe and enjoyable community-based bushwalking.
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