|Dear Scouts, Leaders and Supporters,
My role continues to bring me enormous pride in the extraordinary work done by so many volunteers. It is simply heart-warming to see the delight on the faces of young people who have been encouraged to do their best, and it’s a privilege to meet the adult volunteers who dedicate their spare time to putting others first.
Like you, I’m also a volunteer. So is my team of Commissioners, who’ve been working hard this year to better represent and reflect the Scouting values and behaviours we need for today and for tomorrow. I’m proud of their positive approach, energy, and commitment to membership growth.
I acknowledge that the changes my team and I are driving are not always easy. We don’t underestimate what’s required to address some of the long-standing beliefs, practices and behaviours across our State.
Of course, there are many aspects of Scouts that we don’t want or need to change. Learning bushcraft, survival skills, camping, navigation and community support are all core elements of our program, and will always be part of Scouts.
But to keep Scouts NSW relevant for the next generation of young people, and to ensure we’re delivering a consistent experience, it’s worth reflecting on some of the key elements of how we run Scouts today:
- Scouts is a youth-led movement – our young people are involved in making decisions and learning to lead – it’s the magic ingredient for why we’re different from other youth groups.
- We’re an inclusive organisation – we encourage people from all cultural backgrounds to participate. As Australia’s young people become more diverse, from a multitude of backgrounds and beliefs, we now offer alternative Promises they can all make with conviction, and a Law they can easily understand and follow.
- Girls have been involved in Scouts since 1971 – that’s 46 years ago – we are no longer an organisation that only caters for boys.
- We’re a member of WOSM, which means every child has the opportunity to join an international scouting event – scholarships can help every member have this experience of a lifetime.
In this month’s Chief Chat, you’ll find examples of how we’re modernising and growing Scouts NSW, focusing on the priorities our members requested, and striving to be relevant, valued members of our local communities.
As this will be my final Chief Chat for the year, can I thank each of you – Leaders, Supporters and Professional staff alike – for your wonderful support throughout 2017. I deeply appreciate your commitment to our wonderful organisation. I wish you and your family a safe and enjoyable break over the Christmas and New Year period.
Yours in Scouting,
|Neville Tomkins OAM JP
SUMMIT ’17 for Group Leaders
We held two important events over the past couple of months dedicated to our Group Leaders. The events took place over separate weekends; the first in Wagga in the Riverina, and the second in Pennant Hills. Their purpose was to bring our Group Leaders up-to-speed with the many developments taking place across our organisation, to listen to their views and opinions, and to help them feel supported by the State teams.
We discussed the headwinds and opportunities facing all community youth groups, and focused on the issues affecting Groups, and how we can make it easier to become and remain a volunteer. It was wonderful to see so many of our members offer to guide and run sessions, bringing deep skills and experience into the room. My sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to come along, and who participated so constructively throughout the weekend.
We’ve now established a Group Leader Working Group. Its main task is to prioritise over 200 suggestions raised by the GLs, Leaders in Charge and District Commissioners on what support they need now and to help them achieve future growth.
The Working group already has over 20 members. If others are keen to get involved, please contact
Dean Bassett, State Commissioner Group Support on firstname.lastname@example.org. All participants received a showbag with useful materials to help their everyday activities. If your GL didn’t attend, contact Dean if you’d like access to this information.
Young people taking the lead
Our priority is supporting and enabling the young people in scouts to become leaders of the future. We’re delighted with the formation of the Jamboree Youth Consultation team for AJ2019. They spent a weekend at Cataract Scout Park to share ideas and suggestions with our State Commissioners, and already they’ve identified some great opportunities for the NSW Contingent.
The 25th National Australian Scout Jamboree runs from 4 – 13 January 2019 at the brand new Bend Motorsport Park at Tailem Bend in South Australia. Over 10,000 Scouts from all across Australia and the world will (briefly!) make the Jamboree campsite South Australia’s fourth largest town – imagine the new friends you’ll make.
International Scouting provides amazing opportunities for young people to explore new cultures, try new activities and step out of their comfort zone in a safe and supported environment. There are activities for Scouts, Venturer Scouts and Rover Scouts in countries including New Zealand, The Netherlands, Ireland and Japan taking place in 2018 and 2019.
An International Scouting experience can also be enjoyed at home and in your local Scout Group. There are opportunities to volunteer as a host family for a foreign Scout while they are visiting Australia. Your Scout Group could also participate in JOTA/JOTI or connect with the Pen-Pal program to communicate with Scouts overseas. Check out the information in the events brochure.
Involving local politicians and MPs can often be a great way to increase the promotion of your event or activity and reach a wider number of people in your local community.
The 1st Lane Cove Scouts unveiled the fit-out for its new Scout Hall in October. The Group had received a Federal Government Stronger Communities Grant to build enhanced storage facilities for the new Hall. The Leaders engaged with Trent Zimmerman, their local MP, who led the ‘unveiling’ by drawing back the Venturer flag and revealing the new facilities. He met young locals and got to better understand the valuable role Scouts plays, after which he promoted his visit within the community.
Congratulations to 1st Hurstville Scout Group who were presented with the Best Youth Group Award 2017 by Mark Speakman, NSW Attorney General at the Graffiti Removal Day (GRD) volunteer reception at State Parliament House on 22 November.
The award was presented by in recognition of the many times Hurstville Scouts have volunteered for Graffiti Removal Day removing many hundreds of square metres of tags defacing private property and public buildings. The Venturer Scouts representing the Group were both surprised and humbled to be selected for this award.
Chris Bates, our immediate past National Chief Commissioner, has completed his term. Early in the New Year, Scouts Australia will be advertising widely for a new Chief Commissioner. In the meantime, Phil Harrison will act as Chief Commissioner, Scouts Australia.
Scouts NSW thanks Chris for his commitment and dedication to the Chief Commissioner of Australia role for the past 3 years. We also thank Janice, his wife for the tremendous support she has given Chris.
At its 19 November meeting, the National Executive Committee endorsed 5 year old, school aged ready, Joey Scouts. Having listened to many Joey Leaders and families over the past 18 months, I have been a particularly strong advocate at our National meetings for lowering the Joey commencement age to 5 years, provided they are also ready to attend school. The appropriate program material is now being developed, and a commencement date will be determined in the near future.
New State roles
I’m pleased to announce Hugh Mooney will be the new State Commissioner for Adult Training and Development. Hugh has been a member of Scouts since 1993 working mostly within the Venturer and Rover sections at Group and Region level. He joined the National training team in 2008 as an Assistant Leader Trainer and is also a National Assessor and PLA. He also has training as part of his employment role with Sydney Trains, and has skills in various adventurous activity areas. He’ll be part of the team to train our pioneer groups in the new Youth Program ad is looking forward to helping develop training opportunities and provide a better experience for our youth.
Liam Painter has accepted the position of State Adviser – Digital Communications. Liam’s focus will be to help those Groups who’d like support to build their digital footprint to promote and recruit new members. Liam joined from being the Venturer Scout Leader with 1st Mosman Venturer Unit. He has held positions including Chairman NSW Branch Rover Council, NSW Rovers PR and Marketing Officer and NSW Rovers Internet Officer. Liam has also been a member of the media and promotions team at AJ2010, AJ2013, WSJ2015 and AJ2016. He can be contacted on email@example.com.
We also have some new roles you may be interested in. Firstly, we are looking for a new State Commissioner (Strategic Development, Network & Partnerships) to work closely with government and corporate enterprises, seeking sources of funding and developing alliances to advance scouting in NSW and grow our membership and acceptance as an important youth organisation in this state. Look on the Scouts NSW website or Facebook for the advertisement. Please share it with people you think might be interested and would like to make a difference.
Secondly, we’re looking for Pioneer Program Mentors to advocate for our new Youth Program and work with youth and adults to advance their understanding throughout 2018. We’ll be running training for mentors in February next year. These roles are open to all members aged over 14.
- State Office efficienciesWe’re working hard to overhaul the operational procedures and systems across our State office. Dr Nicole Brooke is leading a project to help rewrite our Organisation & Information (O&I) handbook. We’re also running a project titled Optimus Prime, which is transforming over 40 initiatives to introduce better efficiencies into the way we operate and deliver services to members. We’ll keep you in touch with developments as they progress.
- Membership feesFollowing a review of the budgetary and operational requirements of the organisation by the State Finance Committee and the Board of Directors, the Membership Fees for the next Scout financial year (1 April 2018 – 31 March 2019) are set to increase in line with CPI by $1 per quarter bringing the membership fee to $41 per quarter. There is no increase to the one off joining fee for new Members, it remains at $30.To help grow membership, we’re introducing a new incentive scheme to give financial support to all eligible Scout Groups across the State. The new scheme will be introduced from 1 January 2018. 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.
- Survey to understand retention and growth opportunitiesScouts Australia has partnered with the University of Western Australia on a research project to find ways to attract and retain more adult volunteers to deliver our youth programs. If you’ve received an invite to complete the survey, please try to find the time to help contribute to the research. Every Region and District is going to be slightly different so your feedback is important to ensure you are heard. The findings will be shared with adult members in due course.
Out and About
Here are just a few of the events I’ll be joining – please look out for me and say hello:
||Queen’s Scout Presentation for Lars Cramp, Woolwich
||First Cherrybrook Scout Group end of year event
||Mass Investiture of Youth Members and Leaders at Gloucester
||Sod-turning event for new hall, Bungendore Scout Group
|2-13 Jan 2018
||National Venture, Camp Warrawee, Joyner, Queensland
|17-21 Jan 2018
||Hunter and Coastal Region Corroboree
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.