On Tuesday (3/12/19), Barengi Gadjin Land Council (BGLC) informed The Rockclimbing Roundtable (just in advance of public release) that rock art has been rediscovered at Declaration Crag (also known as Taylor’s rock), at Mt Arapiles.Continue reading
ACAV’s 13 member committee has been busy progressing our campaign to restore climbing access in the Grampians National Park. Please find below an update on where efforts are at:
The ACAV is progressing legal action to bring Parks Victoria (PV) to account. The process will be lengthy however this opportunity is critical. ACAV is testing whether it has arguable grounds to seek judicial review in the Supreme Court of Victoria of the decision of Parks Victoria to set aside numerous areas in the Grampians National Park where climbing is subject to prohibition and criminal sanction. The legal case will determine if PV acted in accordance with the law when it implemented blanket bans which have impacted only the activity of rock climbing in the Grampians, earlier this year. The legal team is currently busy pulling together additional material which may potentially expand its case against PV.
Concurrent to pursuing the ACAV legal strategy, the ACAV committee is engaging with land managers including Parks Victoria to strongly advocate and constructively engage in discussions to restore access. The Climbing Round Table is one such opportunity for engagement. The Climbing Round Table is a forum being chaired by an independent consultant from Deloitte, Mark Dingle and involves senior Parks Victoria people including the Chairman of Parks Victoria Jeff Floyd, the CEO Matthew Jackson and the COO Simon Talbot. A range of other climbing organisations are also attending these Round Table meetings.
We are pleased that, on the face of it, Parks Victoria are demonstrating that they are taking climbers concerns seriously by installing the most senior Parks Victoria officials to the Round Table. However, we appreciate that this will mean little without meaningful actions from PV to work with us to restore access.
From the summary notes of the Round Table 2nd meeting, it is stated that “Parks Victoria has convened the rock climbing roundtable to promote and strengthen the relationship between the Victorian rock climbing community and Parks Victoria and to progress action on access to climbing in the Grampians.”
Update on the disciplinary processes
The ACAV recently wrote to its members advising that it was taking disciplinary action against one of its members. Specific details of the allegations against this member cannot be shared due to the impact it may have on a fair process, however we can advise the following update:
- A three person independent Disciplinary Subcommittee has been appointed and is made up of experienced legal professionals of high standing to ensure that the integrity of the disciplinary proceedings is handled fairly and in an unbiased manner.
- The hearing which was scheduled for 26 November 2019 has been postponed due to the member mounting a grievance in relation to the administration of the process. A new date has been scheduled for 12 December 2019.
Climbing Management Guidelines
ACAV is developing a draft set of Guidelines to assist land managers in properly managing the climbing in areas across Victoria. Despite Parks Victoria seeing climbing as a major impactor on the Grampians, it has resisted efforts to develop a proper management plan for climbing and climb sites. In their absence of management action, we are seeking to develop guidelines that will help manage the crags, paths and environment at climbing crags. Something similar has been implemented by our US counterparts the Access Fund. Led by Matt Brooks, these guidelines will demonstrate the climbing community as being proactive in preserving and managing the areas of park we visit. ACAV anticipates this document will be a key resource for land managers and support the ongoing protection of environmental and cultural resources. Timelines for the community consultation and publication are early 2020.
Over the Melbourne Cup Weekend, the ACAV committee held a strategy revision workshop to revisit its Strategy and to map out activities against the strategic focus areas for the coming weeks and months. The strategy was developed shortly after ACAV was established earlier this year. The 13 person committee is focused and committed to the original strategy and taking ACAV forward in a professional capacity. View the ACAV strategy at here.
Who are the ACAV committee?
Soon you’ll see some short videos released about who the committee are and what we are working on. More broadly we have engaged the support of a communication advisor, Krista Eleftheriou, to not only support the committee in improving our communications to members, but to develop a strategy to proactively engage in media to boost public and political understanding and support for climbers. To date we have largely been reactive – responding to negative messages promoted by others. Krista has more than 10 years’ experience in communications related to political and policy advocacy campaigning, and is a former ABC journalist.
Our current secretary Hanh Le will be stepping down from her position to focus on her family, however she will continue to offer strategic advice to the committee in the near year. One of our founding members, Hanh has been instrumental in ensuring ACAV was set up correctly and met all its legal and regulatory requirements, having been a VP of another incorporated association. Her background in raising millions for children’s and guide dogs charities has been an asset in helping ACAV establish its fundraising strategy. We are excited to announce that Leanne Lindorff has offered to be ACAV Secretary until our next Annual General Meeting. Leanne and her family moved to Natimuk to be closer to Mount Arapiles and run the Nati Café.
Calling for Volunteers!
The climbing community have a lot of work ahead of us in coming weeks, months and years. Calling for ACAV members with experience in report writing, administration, law, promotions and traditional owner engagement to come and work with us and help take this important work forward.
Special General Meeting
Notice is hereby given that a Special General Meeting of the Australian Climbing Association Victoria (Inc) will be held:
Date: 19 December 2019
Place: Arnold Hall Lecture Theatre, Centre for Business
Trinity Grammar School
40 Charles Street, Kew VIC 3101
to conduct the following business:
- ACAV Committee Report and Statements
- Confirm the chair for the meeting
- Confirm proxy voting
- Special resolution
- Any other business arising from any special resolution carried
A Member may appoint another member as a proxy for the meeting. The appointed proxy must attend the meeting in person. To that end, a proxy form is attached here to this Notice.
Notice of Special Resolution
Notice is hereby given that it is intended to propose the following resolutions as special resolutions at the Special General Meeting to be held at Trinity Grammar School on 19 December 2019, 7pm.
Special resolution 1:
Mr Mike Tomkins be removed from office as ACAV President and the ACAV Committee.
Special resolution 2:
The ACAV Committee is dissolved in its entirety.
Please send any enquiries to the Secretary via [email protected]
Jackie Bernardi, Vice President, on behalf of the ACAV Committee
ACAV Meeting Report 8th October 2019
Held at Deloitte Bourke Street office and at Parks Victoria Halls Gap office via teleconferencing link.
The following notes were issued by Deloitte Australia and they have been approved by Parks Victoria for general release.
The ACAV Committee supports the newly formed Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Network (GWRN).
The ACAV believes in the need to work with Traditional Owners to understand and communicate an understanding of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage to the wider climbing community.
The ACAV believes the GWRN will assist the climbing community to achieve this goal.
The ACAV will support the GWRN’s efforts to build meaningful relationships with Traditional Owners in order to listen and learn from them and find a respectful pathway towards a shared future.
The following communication was sent to ACAV Members on Thursday 10 October 2019:
Dear ACAV Member,
As you may be aware, the ACAV sent a legal letter to Parks Victoria on 2 September 2019 outlining the following points:
1. The climbing prohibitions are invalid as they currently stand.
2. The climbing prohibitions are “legally unreasonable” and “disproportionate to the supposed mischief to be addressed”.
It also stated that the ACAV would commence legal proceedings for a judicial review should Parks Victoria choose not to overturn the rock climbing prohibitions.
After receiving this response from Parks Victoria that they will not revoke the set-aside determination to remove the rock climbing prohibitions, the ACAV Committee accepted the opportunity to meet with Simon Talbot and other Parks Victoria representatives to further discuss the set-aside determination.
This meeting occurred on Friday 4 October between members of the ACAV Committee, ACAV Lawyers and Parks Victoria representatives.
Parks Victoria were represented by: Simon Talbot (COO), John Stevens (Manager Legal Services) and Stuart Hughes (Director Park Planning and Policy). The ACAV thank Parks Victoria for their attendance.
This meeting was an early stage in the legal process and was held ‘in confidence and without prejudice’ as a necessary step to ensure both parties could discuss matters honestly, fairly and without prejudicing any ongoing legal action. As such we are unable to report on the details of the meeting at this point in time. And by communicating this, the ACAV is also faithfully discharging its legal duties to its members.
The ACAV Committee will follow up with a submission based on the issues discussed at the meeting and keep pressing on with the legal strategy. We will keep members informed as, and when, we can regarding ongoing legal discussions and meetings.
In addition to the discussions with Parks Victoria, the ACAV are currently finalising all pre-trial duties in order to commence legal proceedings for a judicial review to have the matter brought before a court of law to decide whether the rock climbing bans implemented under Regulation 65 of the National Parks Regulations 2013 are in fact, legal.
The ACAV urgently needs your support to continue with this legal strategy.
Legal proceedings are highly effective, but expensive. We need your support to top up the ACAV Access Fund and help us reach our goal of raising $100k.
You can donate to the ACAV Access Fund via credit card through our website here.
For larger donations over $100, you can make a direct deposit into our bank account via the details below:
Account Name: Australian Climbing Association Victoria
BSB: 313 140
Acc No: 122 095 76
Your contribution, whether great or small, will assist the ACAV in its goal of promoting and protecting access to rock climbing areas in Victoria.
The ACAV is committed to working with Traditional Owner groups and land managers to represent the interests of climbers with regards to access for recreational climbing and bouldering areas within Victoria. Our goal is to work with both groups to ensure fair access to climbers, proper management of State and National Parks and proper management of climbing as an outdoor recreational activity.
The ACAV Committee are pursuing multiple strategies to achieve these goals and will continue meeting with Parks Victoria COO, Simon Talbot, to endeavour to include and open a dialogue with Traditional Owner groups to manage any environmental risks and cultural concerns with regards to rock climbing practices.
Please continue to support our efforts to represent the climbing community in this way by making a donation today.
You can also show your support by purchasing an ACAV T-shirt here with all monies raised going towards the ACAV Access Fund.
We thank you for your continued support and for choosing to promote and protect climbing access in Victoria.
On Wednesday 18 September, the ACAV hosted a meeting with representatives from various Victorian climbing related clubs, organisations and businesses.
The objective of the meeting was to share with the representatives of the Victorian climbing community, the purpose of the ACAV and what the ACAV have been working on with regards to access issues and to request for any feedback from and collaboration with the representatives.
Representatives from the following clubs, organisations and businesses were present:
- Bogong Equipment
- Melbourne University Mountaineering Club
- Outdoors Victoria
- Project Climbing
- RMIT Outdoor Club
- Sport Climbing Australia
- Sport Climbing Victoria
- Victorian Climbing Club
The full list of invitees can be found here.
The agenda for the meeting was as follows:
2. Who is on the ACAV Committee
3. What is the ACAV all about?
4. Key Current Activities
a. Legal situation and Parks Victoria
b. Climbing Management Plan
5. Working with other Victorian climbing organisations
- Founding Body
- Parks Victoria Climbing Roundtable Meetings
The meeting was well received and informative for attending representatives with many participating in meaningful discussions.
Key points of the meeting were as follows:
Access is a Three Legged Stool
There are three main supporting legs of climbing access. These are Political, Legal and Stewardship.
The ACAV was formed to tackle the legal and political components around access. The ACAV Access Fund is for funding legal activity. Not stewardship. Stewardship is the role of clubs for education and awareness, track building and maintenance and social activities.
Legal and Political Activities
ACAV is aiming to create legal and political pressure to ensure access is regained in a timely way. We have no voting power, but we can create noise. Political pressure from above can influence land managers to work with us. Shortly after a Question in Parliament was raised, the rock climbing round table was set up to engage the climbing community.
At the same time, ACAV are applying legal pressure. A legal letter was sent to Parks Victoria on 2 September which has resulted in the ACAV scheduled to meet with Parks Victoria Chief Operating Officer, Simon Talbot, Legal Services Manager John Stevens and Director Park Planning and Policy Stuart Hughes.
Climbing Management Plan (CMP) incorporated into the Grampians Landscape Management Plan (GLMP) for 2020
With the consultation workshops for the GLMP underway, having a Climbing Management Plan attached as an appendix would ensure that recreational climbing is embedded as an accepted recreational activity in the Grampians National Park.
The GLMP will be signed off by all three Traditional Owner groups with an interest in the Park, and so it would be in the interest of the climbing community to have the groups involved in the process of a CMP.
All representatives at the meeting agreed that the CMP would need to be created as a community with open consultation and feedback. Expert knowledge from the community will be required for the CMP in the areas of Climbing Knowledge (Trad/Sport/Bouldering), Environmental and Archeological. What this process would look like would need to be determined collaboratively by Victorian climbing representatives.
Bringing the Climbing Community Together
The climbing community as a whole have a common goal of resolving the access issues in the Grampians National Park. As a community, we need to have a strong united voice with consistent messaging in order to have the best chance of working alongside Traditional Owners and Land Managers.
Traditional Owner Messaging
The ACAV along with all representatives agreed that the climbing community need to find a common ground with Traditional Owners. The key message that we, as a community, want to deliver is that climbers want to protect cultural heritage, we do not want to do any harm.
Legislation and Plans
There is a misconception that climbing was banned by the 2003 Grampians Management Plan. Anything within the plan needs to be enacted by regulations and acts. As these were not properly enacted, climbing was not banned. Management plans are somewhat of a ‘wish list’ which can be implemented at any time, but must be done in accordance with the act and regulations. In order to ban an activity, you need signage to enforce a regulation/act. Without the signage, the bans cannot be considered legal. Please refer to the ACAV presentation for a more detailed overview on this topic.
Can we climb in SPAs?
Until the ACAV case set out in our legal letter is tested in a court of law, the ACAV cannot advise that climbing in these locations is not prohibited. PV’s Legal Manager recently stated that “it is only at these 8 sites, where the signage is in place, that PV is currently undertaking enforcement activities pursuant to the Regulations”. Whilst some people have already gone back into SPAs. ACAV encourages everyone to cooperate with rangers and to be respectful.
Next Round Table Meeting
The next rock climbing round table meeting is scheduled for early October. Prior to this meeting, the facilitator engaged by Parks Victoria, Mark Dingle, requested that each representative group send through a list of their top 10 climbing areas for cultural assessment.
It was felt by all representatives that this list is too significant to rush through and needs to be carefully considered. No one from the Founding Council had yet submitted their priority list and representatives in attendance agreed to discuss this further and work collaboratively. Two key questions that need to be answered by Parks Victoria regarding the request for these sites are:
- What is the reason for this list?
- How are you going to use it?
The potential to add additional representatives to the round table meetings was also discussed as it was agreed that the round table participants were lacking representatives in the following areas:
- Licensed Tour Operators
- Guide Book Writers Guild
The ACAV will draft a letter to the facilitator to make the request for additional representatives as well as request that the round table participants do not submit their top 10 climbing areas for assessment until a process for this has been discussed. The letter will also include a request for more Traditional Owner involvement at the round table meetings. The draft of this letter will be sent to all representatives for feedback before being sent to the Parks Victoria facilitator.
The first edition of the Australian Climbing Association (ACA) national publication, Climbers Voice, is now available for download.
Climbers Voice is a biannual publication providing the Australian climbing community with news, views and stories related to climbing access and advocacy and to help protect our climbing areas.
In this edition:
- Climbing Advocacy: The ACA & A Vision for the Future
- Do the Right Thing: Climbing Etiquette
- Kids on the Rocks: Climbing is a Family Affair
- Grampians Climbing Bans
- Arapiles: Trouble in Paradise?
- Five Codes of Ethics: Bouldering
- Tibrogargan: A Sentinel of Lost Wilderness
Please consider making a donation to the ACAV Access Fund and towards the protection of rock climbing areas.
ACAV welcomes any feedback from the climbing community via the contact form on our website.
ACAV are now kicking off their fundraising drive in an effort to top up the Access Fund!!
ACAV T-Shirts Now Available
To kick off the fundraising, we now have Blue ACAV T-shirts for sale. Be quick to place your order as there are only a limited number available. T-shirts are $40 each and available in Men’s and Women’s sizes.
ACAV Raffle – AWESOME Prizes!
Thanks to the generous support of local businesses and individuals we have some amazing prizes up for grabs!
Raffle Tickets are $5 each with the winners to be drawn at the Victorian State Bouldering Titles on Saturday 21 September at Northside Brunswick.
- Osprety Mutant 22L back pack
- $100 Voucher – Cilmbing Anchors
- $100 Voucher – Rock Hardware
- 1 Month Membership – Urban Climb Collingwood
- Camp Jaspter CRB Verde Harness – Medium
- Urban Climb Beanie & Chalk Bag
- Rock Empire Screwgate Biner, Camp Orbit Wiregate Biner
Thank you to the following businesses and individuals who donated prizes to our raffle:
- Climbing Anchors – Collingwood
- Paddy Pallin’s – Lt Bourke St
- Rock Hardware Bendigo
- David Willing
- Urban Climb Collingwood
On March 6th 2019, before ACAV was a twinkle in anyone’s eye, I worked with a legal friend to put in three Freedom of Information Requests to Parks Victoria. We requested impact studies relating to Grampians rock climbing along with all relevant rock climbing related communications with Aboriginal Victoria and Traditional Owners.
Now, six months later we received a response to the third and final FOI request.
What is going on in our government agencies when they can get away with this flagrant contravention of the Freedom of Information Act 1982?
This response is 5 months late and only two out of 172 relevant pages are provided in full.
This is the decision letter
This is the “information”
Our legal boffins will pick the bones out of this meagre information and we may come up with a few avenues of opportunity to encourage Parks Victoria to protect the Grampians properly in the future. Putting up a handful of signs banning climbers does not protect cultural and environmental values.
We have all seen the damage that continues to be done by day-visitors and feral animals. Come on Parks Victoria – we have a raft of environmental initiatives that you have so far ignored.
Eagle eyed ACAV members are welcome to assist and comment.
We will ensure that our government agencies are held to account, one way or another. This is my new favourite word:
We have a major challenge ahead of us. Please consider making a donation to the access fund
The ACAV Committee believes that Parks Victoria displayed major bureaucratic overreach in February 2019 by instituting Grampians rock climbing prohibitions. This episode has far-reaching consequences for the public good in terms of access to public lands for everyone. There is far more to this story than contained within the legal domain and we are at a critical point for future generations. Many user groups are facing similar lockouts from public lands.
The exclusion of respectful park users is a great detriment to park management and an opportunity has so far been missed to blend the knowledge of the Traditional Owners into genuine and collaborative park management. Respectful and knowledgeable park users are the natural allies of the Traditional Owners in seeking to bring future generations together to celebrate culture and the environment in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding.
On 25th July 2019, ACAV received this letter from the Manager, Legal Services of Parks Victoria in response to our requests for the reasons behind the Grampians climbing prohibitions.
In response, the ACAV has funded formal legal advice regarding the legality of the set aside determination used by Parks Victoria to prohibit rock climbing at various locations within the Grampians. We would like to thank ACAV members and supporters whose membership fees and donations have contributed to obtaining this advice.
Following advice from Senior Counsel, a letter from our lawyers was issued to Parks Victoria on Monday 2nd September 2019, asserting that the set aside determination is invalid and proposing that the set aside determination should be revoked. You can read the full letter here.
In simple terms the letter conveys that:
1. The climbing prohibitions are invalid as they currently stand.
2. The climbing prohibitions are “legally unreasonable” and “disproportionate to the supposed mischief to be addressed”.
The letter gives Parks Victoria seven days to provide a substantive response, without which we have instructed our lawyers to commence proceedings for a judicial review.
The ACAV will continue to provide updates on a regular basis as information comes to hand and when we have a better idea of the position Parks Victoria wants to take towards the ACAV and Grampians climbing access.
Please show your support by becoming an ACAV member join via this link
With the potential for the requirement of additional legal counsel and fees, we need your help to top up the ACAV Access Fund. To assist with the incursion of future costs, please consider giving an extra donation via this link.
The ACAV Committee would like to thank the climbing community for its continued support and commitment to resolving access issues in the Grampians.