Scouts in bid to maintain KidSport aid

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian

Geraldton’s two Scout groups will start the process of becoming a Government-recognised sporting organisation in the wake of the decision to scrap Scouts WA from KidSport.

Scouts previously had access to a $200 voucher, which enabled disadvantaged families to cover registration and annual membership fees, before the Government announced Scouts would be excluded from the program in December.

Scouts WA chief executive Sherry Donaldson said a recent meeting with Minister for Sport and Recreation Mick Murray, his advisers and a Department of Communities representative sent a clear message that Scouts would not continue to receive KidSport funding until they meet the definition of a sport recognised by the Australian Sports Commission.

“Scouts is just as valid a means of getting kids active and involved in the community as any sport,” she said.

“Now we’re going to have to jump through the hoops of becoming a sporting organisation.

“It isn’t just Scouts WA either, the entire organisation has to be recognised as a sport for this to work, so this isn’t going to be easy.

“I have no choice but to pursue this, we have 723 children who use KidSport relying on me.”

Scout leader Kerrie Wann said Geraldton Scout Group fees were $181 for the first child in a family, $145 for the second child, $118 for the third and $91 for each subsequent child.

“In our group we also charge $140 family fee,” Mrs Wann said.

“This money goes towards paying bills, maintenance of the building, camping equipment and scarves and badges for the youth members.

“There is also a fee of $30 each term to pay for arts and craft and equipment for activities planned for the term.

“So you can see how KidSport goes a long way with helping families.”

Ms Donaldson said the Government had expressed sympathy at having to cut Scouts from the voucher scheme.

“They were understanding but they had to draw a line in the sand.

“They said we run our organisation very well.

“We have funds in reserve because we made a small surplus last year and they suggested using the surplus to fund the 20 per cent of Scouts who use KidSport.

“But as any small business knows, you need some capital in reserve.

“Scouts WA has been around 110 years, and that’s because we’ve maintained our business model.

“We only have three buildings in assets and we’re not fabulously wealthy but we do whatever possible to help the kids.

“I know that Trevor Wann and Lorraine Bowen up in Geraldton are doing a great job fundraising so children can have scouting opportunities. I take my hat off to them, I don’t think any child in Geraldton who wants a scouting experience would ever be denied one.”

A petition to overturn the decision to cut Scouts from KidSport is available for signing at Member for Geraldton Ian Blayney’s office at 5 Chapman Road.

Ms Donaldson said she was encouraging as many Scouts as possible to access KidSport vouchers before the subsidy expires on June 30.

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