Grampians Set-Aside Determination Concerning Rock Climbing

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.

Rock Climbing Round Table No.1

ACAV Meeting Report                             20th August 2019

Held at Parks Victoria Bourke Street and Halls Gap offices via video conferencing link.

Six months after the announcement of the world’s most extensive rock climbing bans in the Grampians National Park, our land manager Parks Victoria held a Rock Climbing Round Table meeting on Tuesday 20th August 2019.

This long overdue consultation has been prompted by mounting pressure on the land manager from a respectful yet insistent climbing community. Climbers have made strong representations across many platforms in support of climbing as a respected and beneficial activity.

ACAV members will be interested to know the key issues under discussion. We have been asked to omit direct quotations from this meeting and be mindful of any sensitive items. Hence we have not spoken for other rock climbing attendees. Parks Victoria will be issuing formal minutes within a week or two. These were the main items under discussion.

Parks Victoria Representatives
Jeff Floyd Parks Victoria, Chairman
Stuart Hughes Parks Victoria
Carol Nichols Parks Victoria
Lucy Marshall Parks Victoria
Simon Talbot Parks Victoria
Climbing Representatives
Adam Merrick Western Victorian Climbing Club
Andrew Knight Outdoors Victoria
Coralie Reich RMIT Outdoors Club
Jackson Freeman La Trobe University Mountaineering Club
Mike Tomkins Australian Climbing Association Victoria
Paula Toal Victorian Climbing Club
Philip Goebel Sport Climbing Victoria
Philipp Hammes Alpenverein
Riley Edwards ClimbingQTs
Romain Thevenot Sport Climbing Australia
Independent Chair
Mark Dingle Deloitte Australia

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ACAV Meeting Notes

  1. Jeff Floyd, Parks Victoria Chairman hosted the meeting.
  2. Parks Victoria invited rock climbing representatives on the basis of their involvement in the Founding Council.
  3. An independent facilitator, Mark Dingle (Deloitte Australia) chaired the meeting.
  4. The meeting agenda was open ended.
  5. Parks Victoria expressed surprise at the scale of the bans, the global importance of Grampians rock climbing and the depth of concern within the climbing community.
  6. Parks Victoria expressed a willingness to facilitate wider discussions on Grampians rock climbing under this forum, to bring Traditional Owners and rock climbers together. It was noted that the Traditional Owners are contemplating this possibility.
  7. Parks Victoria will provide information at the next round table meeting regarding ongoing archaeological survey work in the Grampians. This is to give the rock climbing community some insight into the relevant cultural heritage issues.
  8. Parks Victoria stated a clear motivation to support rock climbing under a Healthy Parks, Healthy People strategy.
  9. ACAV requested the proactive assistance of Parks Victoria in the major task of rehabilitating the reputation of climbers in Victoria, following the events of the last six months.
  10. ACAV welcomed this initiative to begin comprehensive consultation with the rock climbing community.
  11. ACAV proposed the major objective of creating a Victorian Climbing Management Plan as an Appendix to the 2021 Grampians Landscape Management Plan. This ACAV draft document is in progress. Community consultation phase to follow. ACAV to be a paid consultant to clarify the legal status of the VCMP within the GLMP.
  12. ACAV stated that cliff-by-cliff risk assessment works were under way, initially as a desktop exercise using climbing community expertise. This is to mitigate known environmental risks to ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management standards. To be expanded to cover cultural heritage risks subject to further knowledge.
  13. An executive summary of the ACAV Environmental Action Plan will be forwarded to Parks Victoria for review.
  14. ACAV suggested that it would be beneficial for a senior Parks Victoria representative to undertake an overseas study visit to a rock climbing location that has successfully managed rock climbing in a similar context with cultural heritage and environmental challenges.
  15. ACAV offered existing research data into climbing visitation in the Grampians and offered to assist with the promotion of climbing in a sustainable manner.
  16. ACAV reiterated a request for ACAV representation on the Stakeholder Reference Group panel for the proposed Grampians Landscape Management Plan process. The single place available has been granted to Paula Toal as the assumed representative of the Founding Council. ACAV noted that the Founding Council is at concept stage and that it holds no authority in the area of climbing access. Furthermore there has been no selection process for the leadership of the Founding Council as there is no membership to formulate a vote. ACAV has been denied a place on the Stakeholder Reference Group and will raise this issue at a later date.
  17. This meeting is likely to be the first in a series of Rock Climbing Round Table meetings. Follow up meeting to be advised, likely to be in 4 weeks’ time.

REGISTER NOW: Grampians Landscape Management Plan

At the end of July the ACAV Committee asked members of the climbing community to assist us with influencing policy development by making a submission to the various strategies and plans currently open to community feedback here

One of those plans was the Engage Victoria initiative by Parks Victoria to assist with shaping the next Grampians Landscape Management Plan.

Parks Victoria have now released dates for workshops in various locations across Victoria for members of the community to attend. The objective of  the workshops is to collect input from the community and stakeholders to inform the Grampians Landscape Management Plan.

Workshop dates and times are:

  • Halls Gap workshop, Thursday 5 September 2019, 6.30-8.30pm
  • Laharum workshop, Tuesday 10 September 2019, 6.30-8.30pm
  • North Melbourne workshop, Thursday 12 September 2019, 6.00-8.00pm
  • Halls Gap drop-in, Tuesday 17 September 2019, 12.00-3.00pm
  • Dunkeld workshop, Tuesday 17 September 2019, 6.30-8.30pm
  • North Melbourne workshop, Thursday 19 September 2019, 6.00-8.00pm

The ACAV Committee encourages all members of the climbing community to sign up to a workshop to ensure that climbing is embedded in the future planning of the Grampians National Park/Gariwerd. This is a critical strategy that climbers should take the time to provide input. 

We urge you to register for a workshop here.

Please note that places for each workshop are limited. RSVP now to reserve your spot and opportunity to have a say in the future of climbing. Please share this communication to ensure that climbers are well represented at each workshop so that rock climbing in the Grampians National Park/Gariwerd is protected for future generations of users.

Regards,

ACAV Committee

ACAV Committee Update: July

Following the ACAV Annual General Meeting on 11th July, the ACAV Executive Committee held its initial committee meeting on Wednesday 24th July 2019. Below are some key messages and updates that were emailed to ACAV members last week.
There is also a post on the ACAV website outlining key strategy documents which we are encouraging members to become involved in – more info at the bottom of this update.

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Licensed Tour Operator Meeting: Regarding SDV 16th July 2019

The following meeting report describes the convoluted negotiations that occurred in attempts by Parks Victoria to keep Licensed Tour Operators running climbing activities at Summerday Valley. It’s a rambling tale that is still being played out.

If you want a snapshot of the the meeting outcome, scroll to the end for the “bookable sites” images that Parks Victoria issued on 29th July.

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Influence policy development. Have your say.

It is important to ensure the benefits of climbing and related activities are on the political agenda and recognised at the policy level. The following strategies are currently open for consultation. The ACAV is preparing submissions for each of these and are seeking interested volunteers with experience in submission writing to assist. Please get in touch via [email protected]

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Freedom of Information – Parks Victoria Communications

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.  

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