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We no doubt all believe that children should be encouraged to bushwalk and to appreciate the beauty of nature while enjoying fresh air and exercise and the company of like-minded people.
However, having children on club walks may soon become a thing of the past due to over-regulation and red tape. The Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs (now Bushwalking NSW) recently released a draft Child Protection Policy which stated that each club would have to have a Child Safety Officer and a separate waiver / attendance form for each walk which children attend, and that all leaders would have to sign a declaration saying that they had never been convicted of crimes against children.
After much discussion at the last general meeting it was agreed that the new regulations would not be a major problem because children rarely attend club walks, but it was also recognised that we will need an additional form for each child each time they walk and that it is likely the leader will not have these available unless forewarned. It was therefore agreed that it is the responsibility of the adult accompanying the child to contact the leader in advance - firstly to find out if the leader will allow children on the walk, and secondly to arrange the provision of the necessary forms and declarations should the leader agree.
This policy is currently a draft policy only, but it is likely that part or all of it will eventually be forced upon us, probably soon. The committee will keep you informed of any developments.
(Ettremist - August 2004)