Chief Chat – January 2018

Dear Scouts, Leaders and Supporters,

Welcome to 2018 and a year of celebration!

It's the hundred-and-tenth anniversary of scouting in Australia. Lord Baden-Powell founded the movement in 1907, and just one year later it had spread to Australia. It's amazing to reflect that over a billion young people have experienced Scouting across the globe in that time. It is the largest and longest running youth development organisation in the world.

This year also marks the Centenary of Rovering across NSW. Our State Rover Council has plenty of ideas on how to celebrate this great milestone.

The contribution every one of our members gives has a remarkable and positive impact on the lives of young people across NSW. We estimate the economic benefit to our local communities through Scouting is more than $10 million each year.

That's why 2018 is about celebrating the extraordinary work you do in helping youth members develop confidence, resilience and leadership. And in turn, they learn that giving back to their community can change people's lives for the better.

In this month's Chief Chat, you'll hear about the major events we've held and are planning for 2018, how we're helping more young people to join Scouts, and how we're recognising the contribution of our adult volunteers. I'm confident the next 12 months will see renewed growth in our member base, as more communities embrace the opportunities we offer.

Join me, and our Rovers, in making 2018 our year to celebrate!

Neville Tomkins
Neville Tomkins OAM JP
Chief Commissioner

Big events for 2018

Venturers descend on Brisbane for AV2018

On the first day of 2018, 171 youth members and leaders from across NSW made their way to Brisbane for AV2018. The contingent spent the first night at Baden Powell Scout Centre at Samford, where new friends were made and old friendships rekindled.

The venture journey began the following day at Old Petrie Town, with a welcome ceremony and dinner followed by the formation of expedition units. The first phase saw units travel to hubs on the Gold Coast, Noosa, Rockhampton, the Whitsundays and Bundaberg where the expeditions encompassed diving, caving, abseiling, bushwalking, mountain biking survival, beach fun, zoo-keeping, sailing and many other high adrenaline activities.

The second phase started on January 7, with a week of activities based on and around Camp Warrawee. These ranged from horse-riding to climbing the Storey Bridge, but it was the onsite swimming pool that proved a popular reprieve from the summer heat. The nightly performers and bands kept everyone entertained and the contingent returned home with amazing memories. I spent three days with our NSW Contingent and was impressed with the activities and the positive attitudes of the youth participants. Congratulations to Contingent Leader, Ian Hale, for his strong leadership, and all his Leaders (including Rovers) for their wonderful support.

Scouts NSW has now been invited to host the next National Venture. Watch this space for future developments!

Neville and representatives from the NSW Contingent receiving the friendship stick as the hosts of AV2021

It's a Rover Centenary!

Rover Scouts celebrate their centenary in 2018. It's for all young adults aged 18-25 who manage their own weekly program through crews of 6 to 20 Rovers. They enjoy extreme and challenging activities such as ski-touring, motorsports, hot-air ballooning, caving and rafting.

Moots are the pinnacle Rover event. The NSW Rovers are getting ready for their ‘Dirt and Dust' Challenge Moot in Colo Heights over the NRL Grand Final weekend later this year. It's shaping up to be a wicked event with activities all day including night time motorsport, iron gut, jelly wrestling, chill out movies and awesome DJs and bands. They intend to out-do the sensational 90s kid Moot, so this year, Rovers are in for a treat.

Corroboree in the Hunter

This year's Corroboree has just finished, with participants enjoying some extreme temperatures during the five day standing camp in the Hunter Valley. The camp is based on the patrol system with Troops camping Jamboree-style across several sub-camps.

Activities included a Bivouac overnight hike, where Scouts carried their own gear and slept overnight in a Hutchie.


It's less than twelve months before our lucky NSW Scouts join thousands of others at the 25th Australian Jamboree. It starts on 4th January 2019 and is being held at the brand new Tailem Bend Motorsports Park in South Australia. AJ2019 is the ultimate Scouting experience that you'll remember for a lifetime so it's no surprise to see applications flooding in. Check out the details hereand make sure to be on board for AJ2019. You can look forward to bicycle activities, cart racing and land yachting on the V8 car racing circuit, water activities on the nearby lakes, patrol activities at the Woodhouse activity Centre and a wide game in the city of Adelaide.

Recognition in the Honours List

We were all delighted to see three more of our adult volunteers were recognised in the Australia Day Honours List. Please join me in congratulating Bob Baker and Colleen Godsell as Members of the Order of Australia and Philippa Lovely who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.

They have contributed so much to give young people an amazing scouting experience and it's wonderful to see their work recognised at such a prominent and prestigious event.

Recognition of the outstanding work of all our volunteers is really important at Scouts NSW. I encourage you to share your appreciation for the efforts of the adult leaders in your local Groups, either through formal awards or by acknowledging their contribution with a heartfelt thanks. We're all very proud of our volunteers and the value they give to their local communities.

Helping Out with Membership Fees

To help grow membership, we've introduced a new incentive scheme to give financial support to all eligible Scout Groups across the State. If you grow your Group for a full 12 months until 1 January 2019, each additional net member will gain the Group an $80 rebate on membership fees.

To join the Scout Association there is a one-off joining fee of $30 plus a State membership fee of $41.00 per quarter from 1 April 2018, which includes personal accident and public liability insurance.

Don't forget the Government's Active Kids Rebate scheme. From 31 January 2018, parents and carers of school-aged children in Scouts can receive a $100 voucher to go towards covering Scout membership fees for the calendar year as part of the Active Kids Rebate scheme. One voucher will be available for every child in the family annually over the next four years.

Next month, I'll be able to tell you more about the Family Support Fund, which is a wonderful new initiative that offers assistance for financially disadvantaged families. It has been enabled following recent gifts from two very generous donors. I'll be officially launching the Fund on 17th February, but please bear it in mind if you think any of the families in your Groups would benefit from this support.

Youth leading as the adventure begins

YLAS Diagram

This year, we're launching 'The Adventure Begins', to help embed strong foundations across all Sections before the new Youth Program kicks off. A fundamental element of scouting is our "Youth Leading, Adults Supporting" approach, which is one of the unique and distinctive aspects of Scouts. For over a century, Scouts has been a driving force to help the leaders of the future to flourish.

While our adult volunteers are the enablers for our youth program, much of the decision-making should be in the hands of the youth members. The Joey Scouts and Cub Scouts sections will still involve significant adult direction, however we want to ensure even our youngest members are able to contribute. The perspectives and contributions of all our young people are at the heart of what we do. No matter the section, it is important to ensure there is always youth leadership present. Information and resources on The Adventure Begins will be live 3 February 2018 at

Seeking Extraordinary Event Directors

NSW Chief Director, Cuboree 2020

Did you make a New Year's resolution that involved giving a little more back to your community? If so, we've got an opportunity you don't want to miss. If you're a dynamic, positive, inclusive, high-energy individual who is passionate about the power of Scouts to change lives, then look no further. We're seeking someone with the energy and flair to lead one of our most important strategic events in 2020. We're seeking a Chief Director for the sensational NSW Cuboree 2020. Find out more here.

NSW Chief Director, AV2021

Did the Chief Director for Cuboree spark your interest but didn't quite hit the spot? Maybe you're not yet ready for a big 2020 event, and need a little more time? Or perhaps your Scouting involvement focuses on helping (slightly) older young people? If so, check out this opportunity to lead the amazing Australian Venture for 2021. Don't miss out. It'll be a life-changer. Find out more here.

Out and About

Saturday 17 February will be a significant occasion for our Branch. At the Commissioners' Conference Dinner that night, I will be announcing some very exciting initiatives to help grow our Branch. They are all funded primarily from external contributions I've been able to secure, including:

  • A Young Leader Development Program
  • Scouting for Refugees
  • A Family Support Fund
  • A Trust Fund for Scouting in country areas

I'll share more information about each of these in next month's Chief Chat.

Here are just a few of the events I'll be joining in February and early March - please look out for me and say hello:

3rd Feb Rover Awards Presentation Dinner
8 Feb Founder's Night Rover Bannerette
16-18 Feb Commissioners' Conference
17 Feb Gala Dinner for Scouts NSW
2-3 March State Youth Council meeting
3 Mar Queen's Scout Presentation at Government House
11 Mar Australian Scout Medallion Presentation


All suspicions, concerns or allegations about criminal matters or child protection matters should be reported directly to the Chief Commissioner, the Deputy Chief Commissioner (Youth Safety, Compliance and Support), the General Manager or the Child Protection Officer at the NSW State Office on:
Tel: 02 9735 9000 or via

Imminent Danger
If a young person is in imminent danger, the matter should be reported directly and immediately to NSW Police on 131444.

Where a report is made to the police, you should also subsequently notify the NSW State Office.

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