Bushwalking is a safe and enjoyable activity for young people; with their family, friends, school or with a bushwalking club.
Bushwalking Victoria strongly supports clubs that welcome young people on their trips through junior or family memberships, or as visitors.
We applaud clubs’ efforts to encourage the next generation of bushwalkers. Those clubs will know that having young people on trips brings with it additional responsibilities for the club; the club committee, trip leaders and all members.
In Victoria, any organisation that provides services for children (everyone under 18) is required by law to implement Child Safe Standards to protect children from harm. This includes bushwalking clubs.
A Child Safe Club
The Victorian Government Commission for Young People and Children provides excellent advice on the steps a club needs to follow to ensure it is a Child Safe organisation. Those steps are set out in the following seven standards:
- Governance and leadership
- Clear commitment to child safety
- Code of conduct
- Human resource practices
- Responding and reporting
- Risk management and mitigation
- Empowering children.
Futher details are [here].
Working with Children Check (WWCC)
Any club that has children attending its trips independently of a parent or guardian needs to ensure that every trip leader has a WWCC. For good measure, we suggest that all members of the club committee also have a WWCC.
There is no cost to having a WWCC through the Department of Justice. The process takes about 2 weeks and is valid for 5 years. Note that a WWCC is different to a Police Check, which some will be familiar with from their workplace. One is not a substitute for the other.
If children attend club trips always accompanied by a parent or an adult nominated by the parents, then that person is the guardian and is responsible for the child’s well-being. In this situation a WWCC is not required for the trip leader. If there is any doubt on this, check through the websites below. Club trip leaders are encouraged to have a WWCC if they don’t already have one.
Obtaining correct advice
It important to ensure Clubs get correct and up-to-date advice. For example, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse made several recommendations which led to some recent changes to the Working with Children Checks Act. These came into effect on 1 August 2017.Two Victorian Government sites that set out the legal requirements and provide excellent advice, including by telephone are:
- Commission for Young People and Children: https://ccyp.vic.gov.au/
- Department of Justice Working With Children Check: http://www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au/home