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World Scout Day

01 August 2019

Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Minister for Energy and Environment) (18:24): I take the opportunity to highlight the importance of 1 August for 50 million people around the world—75,000 of them in Australia and more than a quarter of those in New South Wales. These people are Scouts and today is World Scout Day. Scouting began 111 years ago. It grew from a small camp of 20 boys in 1907 into a global movement resolved to help develop young people into the resilient, capable and compassionate leaders of the future. Some of the oldest and longest continually active Scout groups of Australia are in New South Wales. Today there are 415 Scout groups across our State in both metropolitan and regional areas, serving their local communities. Their diversity reflects the richness of our State.

To continue attracting members Scouting has had to change. Even today Scouting is introducing a new youth program and sharpening its focus on a program that is youth‑led with adult support. These are the biggest changes in over a generation. No longer the Boy Scouts, females have been members since 1973 and today account for almost 40 per cent of youth involved. More than just camping, rope work and lighting fires, the modern scouting activity program is filled with outdoor adventure and community endeavours providing a learning environment and growth opportunity for every Scout, no matter their gender, heritage, location or age.

The protection of young people is of the highest priority for the nearly 5,000 Scout leaders in this State. The child protection policies and focus on youth safety underpins every aspect of the movement. Youth members know they have a right to feel safe and are confident to call out any situation where they may need support. Mental health is an important element of Scouting. With the increased prevalence of youth mental health issues in our communities, leaders and Rovers—the oldest youth members—are learning and teaching youth mental health first aid.

Diversity and inclusion are part of the Scouting DNA. In New South Wales the Scouts has faith-based groups, culture-based groups and ability-based groups. Service remains an important part of what Scouts do. Today service means considering the wider needs of communities, including the environment, seeking out ways to ensure inclusion and connectedness of people and demonstrating how today's youth can be part of decision‑making for tomorrow. In New South Wales dedicated adults in Scouting provide 1.5 million hours of volunteering each year. It is just amazing. This equates to an annual injection of some $66 million into the development of youth in this State. In a way Scouting is an essential service. Scouts are change agents helping to create a better world.

In my electorate of Hornsby I know we have some of the most dedicated volunteers in the Scout movement. I was proud to award the Hornsby Community Service Award for 2018 to Benowie District Scout leader Peter Quirke, known to everyone as Noddy. Peter has dedicated countless years to the Scouting movement, including organising the annual Easter district Scout camp, which I have attended for many years to take part in the flour and water fight. I am still finding flour in my car. I think Noddy enjoys a little too much seeing me get hammered in the flour fight. My friend Mel Knudson from Berowra Scouts is another volunteer who works exceptionally hard to ensure the success of her local group with her husband, Dave Antrim.

I have been proud to be part of many award ceremonies at Dural, Hornsby Heights and Berowra. I have seen firsthand the dedication of the volunteers and the joy kids get out of the programs run by their local Scout group. I also recently attended the Hornsby Gang Show and was blown away by the talent on stage. I congratulate production director Rebecca Canty, who was assisted by Lauren Webb, Julia Ranton and Cameron Porter. While show designers Erin Whyley and Kathleen Walker did an exceptional job of wowing the crowd, I know there are many more who were involved in the success of this production and each and every one should be immensely proud of what they achieved.

Over the last 12 months Scouts NSW has seen an increase in youth members of 3.4 per cent. This is the highest of any branch in Australia. Scouts NSW is today a much more confident organisation than it has been for a long time. I congratulate all the volunteer leaders and supporters of Scouts NSW for these wonderful results. In particular, I pay tribute to and congratulate Chief Commissioner Neville Tomkins, OAM, JP, as an outstanding leader and an outstanding individual. I thank him for his exceptional leadership in reviving scouting across New South Wales. We also compliment his leadership team of region commissioners, deputy chief commissioners and State commissioners, as well as the Scouts Australia NSW Board of Directors and professional staff. I know from personal experience it has been a strong team effort.

Today young people and adult volunteers are wearing the Scout scarf with great pride to mark World Scout Day. The Scout scarf is a strong symbol. It stands for a promise that Scouts have made and a law to which they have committed. Their promise is to commit to honour, duty and helping others. The Scout law states: "Be respectful, Do what is right, Believe in myself". I urge all members to support Scouting across our State and to give it the support it deserves. Scouting is not only the largest youth development organisation in New South Wales but is also one of the great values‑based institutions of our time. I commend the extraordinary work of the Scouting community across New South Wales.