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.
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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.