AIMS OF THE AAS

One of the great frustrations for groups that have attempted to influence the AAS is that they are forever confused about the aims of the project. Here are some interpretations from the sponsoring departments and the project managers. We begin with the grant documents which have been obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Source Quote Comments
The following three items contain the entire specification of aims from SRVs grant documentation. The contents of these documents have never previously been disclosed to any stakeholder.
Grant document 1, c2000 "Aim: To establish industry agreed minimum activity standards relating to outdoor recreation activities undertaken on public land in Victoria.

Currently most groups other than private commercial operators have access to public land in Victoria without having to abide by any agreed standards relating to the conducting of activities other than those that are individually set by the groups from time to time."

[This final ominous statement is not followed by any conclusion.]
Grant document 2, c 2001 "This project involves the development of MAS [minimum activity standards] for the Outdoor Recreation sector and is jointly supported by four Government Departments: SRV, Tourism Victoria, Natural Resources and the Environment and Parks Victoria."
Grant document 3, c2003 "This funding ($95,000) relates to the Stage 2 rollout (from May 2003) of the Adventure Activity Standards." [Note the absence of the word 'minimum' from the third grant document. We understand that this was a deliberate change of project aims. We had hoped, and had been given reason to believe, that the background would be revealed by our first FoI request, but this information was not supplied.]
AAS Pilot Study submitted by the ORC to Department of Sport and Recreation, 2001. Obtained by Adventure Victoria under the Freedom of Information Act.

"There is currently a requirement for commercial operators to obtain a permit to conduct group activities on public land, while no such requirement is placed on other groups. Representatives from the ORC Committee have expressed support for the need for all groups accessing public land to adhere to and be assessed against the same minimum standard of operation."

There are other conclusions pricipally claiming a safety benefit and making a one word reference to insurance.

[No supporting rationale or evidence was supplied for the italicised conclusion and no evidence was supplied for any conclusion relating to aims.

Stages 2 and 3 were funded on the basis odf this submission.]

Opening line from an address of the ORC to a meeting of walking club representatives, East Melbourne, March 2004 "There is one thing I want to make absolutely clear. The AAS has nothing to do with insurance." [verbatim or close to it]
'Adventure activity standards-why have standards?', This is included in all Adventure Activity Standards, Outdoor Recreation Centre, 2003-2004 Applying the adventure activity standards

Having suitable risk management programs and strategies in place, and ensuring the AAS are met, will minimise the likelihood of injury or loss. However, evidence of compliance with such programs and the AAS will also assist in the legal defence of claims and in proving that an organisation and its staff have acted reasonably in the circumstances (i.e. were not negligent). It is also likely such programs will assist activity providers in obtaining more favourable insurance arrangements."

[Elsewhere on this site you will find our comments on the implausibility of these claims. The point to note here is the inconsistency with other claims.]
'AAS Project Summary; Overview; Background' (n.d.), Outdoor Recreation Centre Victorian [online], http://www.orc.org.au/aassummary.htm (Accessed June 2004) "The AAS will be a benchmark for group size and other environmental issues." [If this were the only aim it would be admirable. But it is a minor aspect and is far from being achieved. Ironically the AAS applies different environment protection standards to each activity.]
SRV verbally, July 2004 "a vehicle for the implementation of the ANTA [Australian National Training Authority] system" [ANTA is now effectively defunct.]
ORC Update May 2006 "the extent to which the AAS are adopted in these states is entirely based upon the fact that industry developed standards are a preferable model to government regulation" [in reference to non-Victorian states which the ORC hopes will adopt the AAS]


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