A BRIEF HISTORY OF AAS

To understand the history of the AAS, you have to understand the history of it's instigators, the Outdoor Recreation Centre (ORC).

In 1987, four organisations pooled funds to create a shared secretariat. Two were recreation bodies, one an industry body and one a teacher's association. Their shared interest was "outdoor recreation". Their shared need was part time administrative/secretarial staff. They incorporated an association to run a shared resource.

In 1994, they amended their constitution to free themselves from being limited to their secretarial role.

The ORC secured the use of government facilities and expanded its membership to some eighteen very disparate organisations who were brought together by their need for meeting rooms, equipment storage and shared staff.

In 2000, in a departure form its original purpose, the ORC decided to seek government funding to write a code of practice for the outdoor recreation industry. That was to become the AAS.

In 2001, the ORC was granted $45,000 to conduct a pilot study. That pilot study concluded that the AAS was necessary for an array of reasons but provided no supporting evidence. On the basis of the pilot study, Sport and Recreation Victoria awarded another $65,000 to proceed, with another grant to follow, as it did. As a part of the case it put, the ORC claimed to be the peak body over the top of all existing peak bodies for all adventure type activities, a claim it repeats to this day. The subjects of this peak status have never been consulted and for the most part are unaware of the claim.

In 2005, the AAS, though still incomplete in Victoria, was used as a template for similar schemes in other states. Those processes are still continuing, despite strong resistance in all states.

HOW ADVENTURE VICTORIA BECAME INVOLVED

The process of writing the bushwalking version of AAS began when the industry association Outdoor Recreation Centre (ORC) invited affected organisations to a meeting in mid 2003. A draft document was later circulated to them for comment. The 'final draft' was published in December 2003. On enquiry, the ORC emphasised that the status of this document was 'final' rather than 'draft'.

In the 'final draft', the Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs (VicWalk) was listed as an endorsee, as was Bushwalker Search and Rescue. Both were surprised and both indicated their unwillingness to endorse that version, if any. VicWalk held a meeting of club representatives and the ORC. That meeting was very hostile to the project but agreed to work towards a co-operative resolution.

After several months of negotiation, driven largely by individuals who have gone on to join Adventure Victoria, ORC produced 'draft 4'. This is a greatly moderated version of the 'final draft'. Subsequently, VicWalk's executive reached a complicated understanding with ORC regarding a way forward. This arrangement was at odds with the sentiment of the VicWalk/ORC meeting and so was unlikely ever to have been accepted by its clubs). Subsequently, under advice from a QC, VicWalk withdrew from the process.

The two important points in this story are

  • that this 'final draft' would probably have been tabled without many relevant groups being aware of its importance had it not been for the false endorsements. It was the false endorsements that prompted a handful of people in those bodies to read the document. Few people had given the matter any attention up till that time.
  • that the document was moderated only after determined efforts from VicWalk over five months. That is to say, the ORC was fiercely reluctant to tolerate the wishes of what at that time was the only representative body for bushwalkers. (By choice, VicWalk claims representation of walking club members only and Adventure Victoria had not yet been formed.)

With VicWalk's withdrawal, fourteen individuals continued to oppose the AAS as a uniform professional and amateur code. Recognising both the AAS as an ongoing issue and having been made aware of the lack of representation of cross country skiers and (non-club) bushwalkers in all matters, they later formed Adventure Victoria.



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