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.
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
Held at Parks Victoria Bourke Street and Halls Gap offices via video conferencinglink.
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
Parks Victoria, Chairman
Western Victorian Climbing Club
RMIT Outdoors Club
La Trobe University Mountaineering Club
Australian Climbing Association Victoria
Victorian Climbing Club
Sport Climbing Victoria
Sport Climbing Australia
ACAV Meeting Notes
Jeff Floyd, Parks Victoria Chairman hosted the meeting.
Parks Victoria invited rock climbing representatives on the basis of their involvement in the Founding Council.
An independent facilitator, Mark Dingle (Deloitte Australia) chaired the meeting.
The meeting agenda was open ended.
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.
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.
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.
Parks Victoria stated a clear motivation to support rock climbing under a Healthy Parks, Healthy People strategy.
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.
ACAV welcomed this initiative to begin comprehensive consultation with the rock climbing community.
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.
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.
An executive summary of the ACAV Environmental Action Plan will be forwarded to Parks Victoria for review.
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.
ACAV offered existing research data into climbing visitation in the Grampians and offered to assist with the promotion of climbing in a sustainable manner.
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.
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.
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.