Chief Chat – November 2018

I've often talked to you about the enormous changes taking place across our State. Nobody can under-estimate the pace of change within our communities, workplaces, and also at Scouts.

The major transformations we are making in our organisation will help prepare us for a successful future, together with the launch of our new Youth Program next year.

So, it's good to know that research we've done with the University of Western Australia showed that last year over 70 per cent of adult volunteers are happy at Scouts, have high intentions to stay, and most expect to continue volunteering with Scouts for at least a couple of years. This group felt energised by volunteering and were learning and growing from the experience.

This wonderful group of leaders is one of the many reasons I enjoy volunteering for Scouts.

However, there remain some deep-seated challenges that I have personally found very dispiriting. It gives me no pleasure to say over the past couple of years, I've witnessed some appalling treatment of adults by adults.

Almost every week, I'm asked to mediate between adult members who feel disrespected, intentionally ignored, undermined or publicly belittled. Sadly, the impact of these feelings creates lasting damage.

It is difficult to put my finger on precisely why these behaviours exist. And it's even harder to figure out how to resolve them in an organisation in which every single adult volunteer is so valuable.

My answer comes down to a simple value: we must respect each other. Being treated with respect, offering useful feedback and being positive, are – for me - the hallmarks of demonstrating I care for every volunteer and every youth member.

I firmly believe that being civil to others is a core value we must nurture at Scouts. It helps us deal with difficult people and situations, manage our stress levels, stay mindful and sustain our positive energy.

When adult leaders at Scouts show civility to their peers, they can build stronger teams, more information is shared, and conversations open up relationships, and creativity can flourish.

Taking a respectful approach to other adults is far more energising than constantly bickering about someone else. The diatribe on social media where adult members voice their opinions on matters over which they have little care, respect or knowledge is a good example. We all know putdowns are easier when not delivered face-to-face, but being rude on Facebook wastes everybody's time and energy, and isn't going to make anything better.

Last month, I described how it's important to let some individuals choose to leave the Scouting organisation, when they no longer feel inspired or able to effectively connect to each new generation of young people who join. It's also important to make deliberate decisions about those individuals who have a toxic effect on others. Research shows how negative relationships have a far greater impact on performance than energising relationships.

With such a large organisation, we each have to hold ourselves and our Scouting peers accountable for being civil and respectful. If you want to hold a leadership position in Scouts, this is part of your job. Behavioural experts consistently tell us that the number one attribute that builds commitment from individuals is respect from their leaders. It's the most valuable behaviour you can demonstrate.

To celebrate 110 Years of Scouting in Australia, we're inviting all youth and adult members in the State to join together in reaffirming our Australian Scout Promise. You're encouraged to hold a ceremony on 18 November at 11am, to reaffirm your Promise, remind yourself of the basis of Scouting and your commitment to the Movement.

It's a great opportunity to reflect and reset any behaviours or thoughts that may distract you from enjoying your time at Scouts.

After all, while we’re dealing with so much change around us, being civil to each other can help us navigate all the uncertainty. People who feel they are being treated respectfully will be much more motivated and able to embrace and drive change.

I encourage you to participate in this wonderful initiative and take the time to remember what a privilege and an honour it is to serve alongside so many outstanding community-minded heroes.

With best wishes,

Yours in Scouting,

Neville Signature

Neville Tomkins OAM JP
Chief Commissioner
Scouts Australia (NSW Branch)

Counting down to 2019

We're on the countdown to the end of the year, with just over 6 weeks left in 2018. Next year, will be a huge year for Scouts, starting with the 25th Australian Jamboree in South Australia. We’ll also be celebrating the centenary of the Wood Badge with events around Australia and many Scouts will attend the 24th World Scout Jamboree in North America in July.

Of course, the next major adventure for us is the new Youth Program. There will be a big launch at AJ2019, and from April, many Groups will start implementing aspects of the new Youth Program.

It's not too late to build The Adventure Begins toolkit into your Scouting program. You can work through the checklist with your Section Council, and earn scarf rings for your Section.

You can also make sure youth members are actively involved through the Plan>Do>Review> approach in all their activities.

This means that every Scout taking a meaningful role in a range of different activities throughout their time in each Section.

The level of responsibility they take depends on their abilities, but we'll continue to support Scouts to develop great leadership skills – one of the fundamental benefits for young people joining Scouts.

To read more about the new Youth Program, check out this great article on the Scouts Australia website and start getting excited for 2019!

Summertime at our Activity Centres

Looking for an awesome adventure for your Group? Don't forget to check out the State Activity Centres, and the amazing opportunities they offer our youth members.

From learning to fly a Cessna at Camden airport, to skiing or hiking in the Snowy Mountains, to sailing and power boating on Sydney harbour, there’s something for everyone at our major activity centres across NSW.

If you're looking for a great summer family getaway, there are some super saver deals being offered by the Alpine Activity Centre to experience outdoor adventures in the Snowy Mountains.

We also have a range of outstanding activities at both Cataract Scout Park and the Baden-Powell Scout Centre in Pennant Hills, which offer camping and accommodation to enable your young people to participate in a wide range of adventures including orienteering, abseiling, caving, low ropes courses and the infamous Challenge Valley obstacle course.

Find your own outdoor adventure

An important element of the new Scout program is the personalisation of the Outdoor Adventure Skills. We took some of the most enduring parts of the Scout program and created a tailored journey for each young person to follow, as they progress their skills in key outdoor pursuits. The Skills are designed for all ages and abilities, and they reinforce what Scouting is most well-known for: delivering active, fun adventures in the outdoors!

There are nine activity streams made up of three core areas (Bushwalking, Bushcraft and Camping) as well as six specialist areas (Alpine, Aquatic, Boating, Cycling, and Paddling and Vertical).

This means that some activities, such as flying, performing arts, JOTA/Radio Scouting, trail bike riding and four-wheel driving are not included as an Outdoor Adventure Skill.

But don't worry, they’ve not been left out. They can be pursued in the Program Essentials of the Unit or the Special Interest Areas framework. By being incorporated into the Special Interest Areas framework, youth members are given the freedom to set their own goals within some minor guidelines.

By following the journey in their favourite outdoor adventure, and reaching Stage 5, young people can even have their skills externally recognised by the Scouts Australia Institute of Training (SAIT).

Find out more about the outdoor adventure skills here.

Scouts for Refugees

Scouts NSW is committed to inclusion and making Scouting available to everybody. In 2018 we’ve focused on extending a warm welcome to members of the refugee communities in New South Wales as a way to help them develop links into their new Australian community.

Scouts for Refugees is a support fund made possible thanks to some very generous private donations and, much like the Family Support Fund, provides financial support to young people who wish to be part of Scouts.

You can find out more about the Scouts for Refugees support fund on our Scouts NSW website.

If you know a young person from a refugee background who would love to be a Scout, tell them about Scouts for Refugees.


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 CEO or the Child Protection Officer at the NSW State Office.
To make a report use the online child protection form, call 02 9735 9000 or email

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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