Meet our Youth Safe Advocates – Belinda


Name: Belinda Howell

Role in Scouts: Deputy Chief Commissioner - Program, Youth Safety and Support

Day Job: Organisational Engagement Manager at the University of Sydney

Hobbies and Interests: Camping, fishing, knitting and crochet

Favourite moment in Scouting: Running the NSW Contingent Media team at AJ2013 in Maryborough. Hard work but such a buzz! Receiving my Wood Beads was also a very special thing for me.

What inspired you to work with youth members? I remember reading a notice board once that said, 'Be the difference that makes the difference' and that has always stuck in my mind. I want to make a difference in the lives of young people so they can grow into more fulfilled and capable adults who will then, in turn, contribute to their community. Also, young people are great at making you feel energised!

What key thing has a youth member said to you that has stayed with you? Sitting next to a camp fire many years ago, I commented to another Leader "Wouldn't it be excellent to do something really important in your life." A little voice next to me said "But you are Boomer. You're a Scout Leader." I hadn't thought to look at it the way that Scout did.

Why did you become a Youth Safe Advocate? I had a safe and happy childhood in the country. I want to be someone that young people could come to if they were looking for someone to help them be safe.

Why is the Youth Safe Advocate scheme important for Scouts NSW? 'Duty of care' is more than just something we say; it's the way we think in Scouting and it underpins everything we do. The Youth Safe Advocate scheme is us declaring a special commitment to extend our duty of care to become someone who young people can reach out to if they are frightened, confused or feel unsafe. We are holding up our hand and saying 'pick me' if you need someone to talk to.

What is the key message you would everyone to remember about the Youth Safe Advocate scheme? The Youth Safe Advocates scheme is not a 'limited time offer' to young people. It is an ongoing commitment by adults in Scouting to keep young people safe. If a younger person is looking for help or just wants to talk to someone about something that is upsetting them, please don't hold back. There are Youth Safe Advocates ready to help. Chances are that one of us knows exactly what can be done to help.