ACAV has received the first of two Freedom of Information (FOI) requests that were submitted earlier this year.
ACAV pursued the FOI avenue due to the lack of information available about the rationale for the wide sweeping rock climbing bans across the Grampians National Park. There were efforts to obtain information directly from Parks Victoria however responses were not forthcoming.
The FOI request is an important avenue available to any member of the public wishing to access public records. Government records are subject to FOI. These FOI requests were initiated to formally seek the background and rationale for government decision making in relation to the bans. There is an abundance of information in this FOI release however it is concerning that a large amount of relevant information has not been released. This does raise questions as to the lack of transparency and possible accountability issues in some of the decision making around the extensive rock climbing bans.
The ACAV is committed to keeping members and the broader climbing community fully informed and engaged in the issues impacting access, and as such, have released the FOI in full here. Our friends over at Save Grampians Climbing have sorted the FOI documents into a timeline and published a summary analysis, which you can read here.
Where to from here? This FOI release is the most information obtained thus far about the background to the bans, and will assist greatly in strategizing the next steps for our association.
The ACAV legal team and workers are dissecting the FOI release and reviewing and updating ACAV strategic documents in recognition of this new intelligence. We hope to receive the second FOI request quickly.
Finally, ACAV formally wrote to Parks Victoria Chief Executive Officer following our incorporation in June to advise that ACAV has now been established and incorporated and requesting to be involved in all matters relating to access to rock climbing areas. We advised Parks Vic of our growing member base and that ACAV now represents more climbers than any club or association in Victoria, and our sole purpose being all climbing access matters. We have received an initial response from both the CEO of Parks Victoria and the PV legal team advising it is formally responding to our request.
It is critical that ACAV has a seat at the table in any future discussions. It is not feasible to rely on FOI requests as a strategy moving forward . FOI requests are slow and are certainly not consultative. We seek open engagement that promotes understanding and flow of information between climbers, land managers and other stakeholders. When negotiations fail, legal avenues may be required and ACAV has a tight constitutional remit to take matters forward in the legal realm.
We look forward to a time when all parties can sit around a table and commence a collaborative discussion to ensure the protection of cultural heritage, the environment, and of course the future of climbing in Victoria.