Club Update

Dear Climbers

Here’s the latest update about the access situation in the Grampians. Since our last update earlier this month a lot of things happened. Here are the topics I’ll cover so let’s dive right into it!

  • ClimbForGrampians fundraiser
  • Meeting with minister’s advisors
  • Mediation with Parks Victoria
  • Getting organised in a new Climbing Federation
  • The upcoming Grampians management plan review

ClimbForGrampians fundraiser
& Access is No Accident campaign launch

On 8 May 2019, climbing gyms and businesses all over Australia partnered to raise funds and awareness about the access work happening for the Grampians. It was also the official launch of the Access is no Accident education project.

This Access is No Accident campaign was a long time in the making and was developed by Tracey Skinner (@CliffCare), Simon Madden & Ross Taylor (@verticallifemag), Florence Seow & Indie Ladan (@northsideboulders) and it highlights actions that you can take to minimise your impact as a climber on the environment and help protect your access to crags. Alongside the poster campaign launch, interactive workshops around crag etiquette were happening at many of the gyms.

Many thanks must go to the crew who planned and organised the ClimbForGrampians event and a big thank you to all the venues and the climbing community who came on board by participating and supporting the event. $5 for every climber and 10% of every sale went into the hat. A grand total of $10,669 was raised for CliffCare. A fantastic result!

Meetings with the minister’s advisors and Parks Victoria

Paula (our president) has been invited to attend a meeting with the Advisor to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister Lily D’Ambrosio. Other attendees include representatives from Parks Victoria, Aboriginal Victoria and the ACAV. An invitation is also being extended to an Advisor from the office of the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Minister Martin Pakula. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, 5 June.

On the day before – 4 June – Parks Victoria is meeting with Licensed Tour Operators (LTOs) to discuss the recent climbing bans from a commercial point of view.

Mediation with Parks Victoria

Over the past months the VCC has taken steps to seek written reasons from Parks Victoria (PV) in relation to all recent closures within the Grampians National Park.

PV has now provided a number of documents which it has confirmed constitute its written reasons for those decisions.

PV has also offered to participate in a mediation with VCC members (and legal representatives) in respect of the closures so as to avoid costly litigation. Subject to some process commitments being agreed by PV, the VCC will likely participate.

Assuming that the mediation goes ahead, VCC will likely not be able to comment on what occurs at the mediation. VCC would be able to comment on any tangible results of the mediation (and would only resolve matters on the basis that the climbing community can be properly informed of these results).

Mediations do not always involve parties changing their positions, but they usually involve compromise by both sides. They are also not always successful in terms of a result, but may succeed in putting processes to resolve matters or to prevent new matters arising.

Getting organised in a new Climbing Federation

The VCC cannot legally bind all climbers so any negotiated outcome will be so agreed on the VCC’s mandate from its own members. However, together with ten other climbing clubs we are working on unifying the Victorian climbing community which should enable us to tackle these issues with a shared understanding and united voice in the future. It is with this understanding (and voice) that the VCC will enter into to any mediation.

You might remember the opinion piece by Phil Goebel (President Sport Climbing Victoria) which was published in the Vertical Life Blog – It is quite clear that Phil’s article resonated with many in the community and to that end a few club-leaders met over some beers to discuss this idea two weeks ago. We had committee members of these clubs attending:

Everyone has to start somewhere

It was a great chat and the general vibe we picked up wasn’t around why we should do this but how do we make it happen. The next step on the agenda is an official Founding Council Meeting on Tuesday 28 May which we will attend on behalf of the VCC. The aim is to outline the founding principles and process in the establishment of a recreational governance body (peak body) to represent the interests of the climbing community and agree the next steps for drafting founding documents, consulting statewide with the climbing community and seeking formal recognition by the State as a State Sport and Recreation Body.

The upcoming Grampians management plan review

This is a big one and this is long term. Now before you read on head to Engage Victoria, register and stay in the loop:

Grampians Landscape Management Plan

The Grampians on a sunny January day

You registered and you’re back? Good – let’s continue: If you read the FAQ, you’ll see that the first draft won’t be submitted before next year and then it can still take months for the final implementation. This means most likely we won’t see any real action before 2021. Why is it important to get this right from a climbers perspective? Firstly, because climbing access in our beloved Grampians is directly affected and this is an opportunity to secure appropriate access for our future and for future generations. Secondly there are a couple of other Management Plans up for review and a major plan – like for the Grampians – can be used as a template for future reviews. Once again it’s important for the whole climbing community to speak with a united voice and to ensure our ideas and suggestions are reflected in a new management plan.

How do we make this happen? First of all every climber should sign up with Engage Victoria – like you did – and provide their feedback and input along the way. There also will be a Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) which will have representation of key user groups such as hikers, four-wheel-drivers and importantly us – the climbers. This is pretty much the highest level of engagement you can have, which is good. Parks Victoria has nominated the VCC for this role and with the upcoming Climbing Federation we need to find a process to involve all clubs in this. We as the VCC have worked in the field of climbing access for decades on behalf of the wider community therefore we believe it’s time to find a model which encompasses all climbing clubs and use it as an opportunity for the future of climbing in Victoria.

Paula and I look forward to keeping you up to date with the outcomes from the upcoming meetings and sharing a process for inclusive consultation that will ensure our members and the whole climbing community have a voice in determining a strong future for climbing in Victoria.

Cheers 🍻
VCC Vice President