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.