It has now been over a year since Scouts Australia adopted our inaugural Sustainability Strategy & Action Plan at the National Operations Committee’s April 2019 meeting. We’re excited to share some of our progress on the Action Plan so far.
Initially we hoped to share some updates with you in late April, to mark our first year of progress. Like everyone else, we’ve had to re-evaluate our priorities with the onset of the COVID19 pandemic, so refocussed our attention on supporting Scouting@Home. Hopefully by now you will have had a look through the #Scouts4SDGs pages we developed over this time. While they already include stories of how our members have embraced action on the Sustainable Development Goals, we will be updating them with more stories as we complete the annual reporting process.
So far we have collected updates from people working on National level actions, and work is underway to collect Action Plan reports from Branches (and their Groups). We know that not everything will be delivered, and that’s okay – it is our first year and so we know we will learn a lot about what we can do, what we should do, and what comes next to deliver on our sustainability outcomes and vision.
So, what have been our highlights so far? There have been too many to cover them all, but here are a section of ways that we have delivered on the Action Plan, getting closer to our sustainability vision:
There have now been national and global reviews of the Scout Method – the theory behind how we deliver Scouting that supports quality education. While engagement in The Adventure Begins (a refocus on the Fundamentals of Scouting) was initially variable, work continues to support our adult leaders in understanding these aspects (including through online modules available to all adult members). Building on the Scout Method, the youth program has a greater focus on the individual and their areas of interest and knowledge. It is known that where a young person is interested, their knowledge and skills will be extended, and the program is leveraging this to ensure quality education.
Through the Youth Program Review, best practices in non-formal education were considered, alongside the needs of future participants in Scouts Australia’s program. This included the strengthening of things that youth members will need to develop to take their role as active, engaged citizens – like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). While STEM has been part of the secondary badges (through technology and sciences) in the past, and via core environment badges, the new program puts STEM at the centre with the ‘STEM & Innovation’ Special Interest Area.
Drawing on best practice within WOSM and other member organisations in Australia, a draft Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Standard was developed with input from the National Teams for D&I and Youth Program. It was endorsed by the NOC at their April 2019 meeting, and the National Adviser D&I is working the National Executive Committee to get approval for appropriate updates to embed this with Scouts Australia’s Policy & Rules.
Work started in mid 2018 to bring together existing Branch D&I Leads, as well as new Branch leads into a National D&I Team. The team met several times in mid/late 2018 to form the team and set initial priorities. While a National Adviser D&I was recruited, the Assistant National Commissioner – Sustainability led the team, coordinated the creation of the draft D&I Policy and organised their first face-to-face meeting in late March 2019 (with expert input from Johnathan Morey and Peter Blatch). Clare Hanley was appointed as the National Adviser D&I in March 2019, and has since led the team to enhance the way we embrace the diversity of our communities, and support inclusion for all (such as the online National Disability Inclusion Conference in July/August 2020).
Branches are undertaking actions to raise awareness of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for example in WA they have a base at events on the SDGs and highlight the links between major activities and SDGs. In QLD and ACT, the SDGs have formed part of training or activities. To provide a base for SDG content relevant to Scouts Australia’s members, we updated our website in April 2020 to include pages on the 17 SDGs (as well as additional info on D&I and the Sustainability Strategy), providing spaces to inspire members and help them take action for the SDGs as part of the #Scouts4SDGs initiative. We look forward to expanding this with member input through 2020 and beyond.
We’re taking a slower approach to reviewing the Strategy & Action Plan, in recognition of the changes we need to make to continue delivering great Scouting, though we remain committed to the process. Through the rest of 2020 we will establish what changes we need to make for the second version of our Action Plan, and confirm if our sustainability outcomes are still aligned to our organisation’s strategic proprieties (and how they relate to action on the SDGs).
If you have any questions, or want to share your own stories of delivering on the Sustainability Action Plan in your area, you can contact the National Sustainability Team via firstname.lastname@example.org or chat to your Branch’s lead for Environment or Diversity & Inclusion.