There are many, many reasons as to why I am proud to be your Chief Commissioner.
Since my appointment, I have been privileged to meet over 1,000 leaders, some 2,500 youth and many hundreds of parents. I continue to be struck by the extraordinary dedication of our leaders the enthusiasm of our youth, and the hard work of our parents and supporters. Thank you to each of you!
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
In response to our submissions and our 6 December 2016 appearance, the Royal Commission noted the progress made by Scouts NSW to enhance our child protection arrangements and observed that we still have significant work to do. As your Chief Commissioner, the safety of our children, and youth, is my number one priority.
To further improve child protection, we have introduced a new framework, including an enhanced Child Protection Policy and Procedure. For full details, see below in this Bulletin.
For me, the best way to protect our youth is to empower them to protect themselves. Our youth have the right to feel safe. They also have the right to report. As well as embedding our new Child Protection framework, we will be working hard in the new Scout year to raise awareness amongst all our youth of their right to feel safe, and to report.
Our Board of Directors is providing strong leadership in Child Protection by adopting the Royal Commission’s 10 elements of “Creating a Child Safe Institution.”
Chief Commissioner’s Council Meeting
We had a highly successful meeting at the BP Scout Centre, Pennant Hills, 26-27 November, coinciding with the meetings of the State Youth Council and the Branch Rover Council.
One of the weekend’s many highlights was the Celebration Dinner on Saturday night, run by our youth, and with Michael Baden-Powell (our Founder’s grandson) as our guest speaker. I was especially impressed by the presentations by our State Youth Council, and representatives of our State Scout Youth Council, on how to further improve Scouting in NSW.
“Big Day Scout”
To further raise the profile of Scouting across NSW, and to recruit more youth and leaders, we will be writing to you shortly about a major event – Big Day Scout – in late 2017. You will have months of advance notice to plan your participation for this event, with lots of pleasant surprises in store.
Your Board of Directors, under the leadership of our Chair, Kerry McGoldrick is to be congratulated for the enormous amount of work it is doing to improve Scouting through enhanced governance. Like us, all Directors are volunteers. The minutes of our meetings are provided to Branch Council for information, with all Directors endeavouring to get to as many State and Region events as possible to further improve communication and awareness.
I congratulate all those who have worked hard to prepare for our 3-7 January NSW Cuboree. With over 3,500 youth and leaders in attendance, it promises to be a memorable event. I will be attending the whole event. If you are there, please introduce yourself. I would love to hear of your ideas as to how my leadership team and I can help to bring Scouting to more young people across our State.
Attending the 5th Bankstown (Muslim) Scout Group activities at their Multicultural Concert, and the 1st Canley Heights (Vietnamese) Scout Group camp (including to celebrate 85 years of Vietnamese Scouting in Australia), reminded me of the richness, and diversity, of our Scouting program. It was my privilege to attend their events, and I am proud of what our universal Scout program can do to develop the skills of youth from different backgrounds. Their activities also reminded me of the importance of families being involved in, and supporting, Scouting.
We have every right to be proud of our youth members, especially those achieving their Section’s top awards. What a memorable occasion it was for me to attend the Queen’s Scout presentation of 2nd Baulkham Hills. Five Queen’s Scouts from the one Group at the same time was impressive! These are the future leaders of Scouting NSW, and our local community.
It is always a privilege to have inspirational youth part of Scouting. One such person is Jaycob Andrews, a PL from 1st Batemans Bay Scout Group. Already facing many health and physical challenges, and reliant on a wheelchair, Jaycob was recently airlifted to the Westmead Children’s Hospital for emergency treatment. During my visit, Jaycob shared with me how important Scouting was for him, and how grateful he was for his outstanding Leaders. With 9 Scouts (both boys and girls) under his leadership, I am delighted to see what Scouting can do for Jaycob.
1st Cherrybrook Scout Group, with 130 youth, 22 leaders, and a strong Group Committee, reminded me of what is possible, through strong leader recruitment and a supportive parent committee. What can we do to help your GL and DC to grow leader numbers and create strong Group committees?
Our country regions need all the support we can give them. To this end, we will be establishing a Working Group in the new year to look at how we can best assist them.
I very much look forward to my visit to The Golden West (late January), the Riverina and to the North West Region again in the new year. I also hope to meet many youth and Leaders at the Hunter and Coastal Region Corroboree.
Everywhere I visit Groups and activities across our State, I meet Leaders and Supporters who have dedicated substantial amounts of time, and really made a difference to our youth through their contributions.
No doubt you know many such volunteers. But have they been recognised recently through our Scouts Australia Adult Recognition Awards (ARA) scheme?If not, I urge you to consider nominating them for an award. If they have already been recognised, I urge you to consider nominating them for the next level of award (if eligible).
Nominations for the 2017 Adult Recognition Awards are now open. To nominate, please contact your Region Office for more information.
Scouts NSW would not have the membership, and the quality Scout program, were it not for you – our volunteers. Thank you! I am deeply, and personally, indebted to each one of you. We are also indebted to our professional staff – in State Office, Regional Offices, our Activity Centres and our campsites, for your continued commitment and passion for Scouting.
I also thank my Chief Commissioner’s Council members, each of the Region Commissioners, our Board of Directors, Board Committees and Branch Council for their tremendous commitment to Scouting.
My wife, Jenny, and I wish each of you and your families, the very best for the festive season.
Neville Tomkins OAM, JP
Scouts Australia (NSW Branch)