If you’re a Victorian and you have been keeping an eye on the news lately, you may have come across an interesting development recently.
Outdoors Victoria are in the process of writing new “Australian Adventure Activity Standards” (AAAS for short) for more than twenty adventure activities.
There are a number of activities included amongst these and bushwalking is certainly one of them.
Long story short, Outdoors Victoria are looking to impose the same standards on volunteer groups, clubs and community groups (think MeetUp), as they would on commercial groups.
If these standards were to be applied, it would mean that voluntary groups such as The Hiking Society MeetUp group would need to comply with a number of things include liability insurance, various accreditations and more.
This has resulted in many who are left wondering whether their volunteer groups will cease to exist should the standards be applied to them.
I believe that this won’t be the case should the standards change and groups be required to comply with Outdoors Victoria.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the finer details are still to be played out with regards to cost, the various accreditations, competency units required etc.
So once we have a clearer picture on that, I think we’ll be able to make a more informed decision.
In the meantime, hypothetically, let’s assume that this goes ahead and hiking groups on MeetUp etc are now required to pay liability insurance etc. or they have to fold.
From where I sit, this is all spawned from basic safety and from some people’s lack of understanding of what it means to be safe in the outdoors.
Granted not everyone is like this but as someone who hikes regularly, I have seen some ridiculous stuff happen in the outdoors.
We see so many people head out with groups and become disorientated due to lack of proper navigation tools, lack of gear and supplies etc.
Something like this would, in my opinion, make people more accountable for their actions and force them to have proper risk management protocols in place.
Essentially, I think it’ll weed out those who are serious about it and those who aren’t.
In saying that, do I think this will legitimately go ahead? I really don’t think it will.
There is too much of a demand amongst volunteer groups to be in the outdoors for this to go ahead.
If it were, there would need to be something significant coming back the other way such as subsidised accreditation or similar.
This would, at the very least, justify some of the potential costs set down by Outdoors Victoria.
With that in mind, if you were charged a small annual fee by a hiking group that covered liability insurance, would that discourage you at all?
Despite my stance on it, I have signed the petition that can be found here as laid down by Bushwalking Victoria.
I can certainly see both sides of the argument for a number of reasons, which is why I won’t be fazed regardless of which way it goes.
I’d love to find out what you think about the controversial topic. Please let me know what you think in the comment section below.