Some climbers have expressed concern or confusion about who the people or organisations are that are representing climbers’ interests. As a user-group, we’ve flown under the radar for a long time, which has meant we’ve had a lot of freedom, equally it means that we’re not very well prepared for an event such as the banning of climbing in some areas in the Grampians. However, that situation is changing, and there are a lot of people very busily working to organise a response to Parks Victoria’s recent actions.
As part of that response, we realise it’s important for climbers to understand who is representing them and what is being done on their behalf.
WHO IS REPRESENTING CLIMBERS?
Victorian Climbing Club (VCC)
Tracey Skinner, the VCC’s Access Officer in charge of running CliffCare, the body that works to manage access state-wide
Paula Toal, VCC President
Steve Monks, long-time member
Nina Scott-Bohanna, communications
Western Victorian Climbing Club (WVCC)
Adam Merrick, committee member and editor of The Bolder
Local Climbing Representatives
Adam Demmert, roped climbing representative
Simon Weill, bouldering representative
The VCC is seeking legal assistance from a team of lawyers/climbers to better understand the regulatory landscape.
Vertical Life magazine
Simon Madden, Editor; Ross Taylor, Editor
WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPLES THAT WE THINK ARE IMPORTANT TO CLIMBERS?
In negotiations with Parks Victoria and other groups, we think that the following principles are important to recognise:
- Cultural heritage sites are of the highest importance to all Australians, including climbers, and we’d ask that all climber respect the bans where they apply.
- We love these natural environments and landscapes and the experiences they offer, and we care very much about the integrity of these amazing places.
- It is important to continue to have a close working relationship with Parks Victoria, the local Indigenous community and Aboriginal Victoria to understand and protect sensitive areas. Just as it is important for them to listen to our concerns it’s important that we listen to theirs.
- We believe that, as a community and armed with the right knowledge and positive working relationships, we can all share these spaces in a positive and harmonious manner,.
- We hope that where suitable, closed areas can be reopened to climbers.
We are working hard to ensure we put in place – and effectively communicate – further guidelines and processes to ensure that we protect and care for these sensitive sites and our beloved climbing areas. As part of that, we believe the following steps need to be taken to peacefully resolve this situation:
- We need to take the time to understand the concerns of Parks Victoria, Aboriginal Victoria and local Indigenous groups.
- We need to assess whether there are ways in which we can resolve these concerns so that climbers can again access these areas, or accept that climbing is incompatible for some highly sensitive sites.
- We need to educate climbers about the places we climb, and we also need to ensure that best practice is used when we visit these areas.
- We need to further understand our legal position as a community, understand what our rights and responsibilities are, and investigate the possibilities of ensuring our access to the climbing areas in the future.
- We need to think about how to manage areas with increasing numbers of climbers visiting popular areas.
As part of a respectful process, we do not believe that these bans can be overturned quickly, climbers will need to be patient as we work through this process. But, if we want long-term access to these areas and to ensure we can maintain access to other areas, it is worth taking our time to understand the problems so that we can come to solutions that work for all parties.
WHAT IS BEING DONE TO REPRESENT CLIMBERS?
- We’ve sent a response to Parks Victoria from climbers. In that response we touched on some of the following points: we are disappointed that climbers were not consulted prior to the decision to implement a ban; some of the areas closed are of international significance to climbers; the vast majority of climbers are very respectful of Indigenous cultural heritage and their environmental impact, and we have a long track record of working with PV in the past; we’ve come up with solutions to past problems by working with Traditional Owners and we believe we can work with Parks Victoria, Aboriginal Victoria and Traditional Owners to try and come up with workable solutions to regain access to some of these crags.
- We have initiated correspondence with local Traditional Owner groups with a view to establishing positive and collaborative relationships.
- We’re seeking more detail from Parks Victoria about why each particular area has been included in the ban.
- We’re seeking legal advice to understand the regulatory and legislative framework in which decisions about access are being made.
- We’re forming several working groups, one to directly negotiate with Parks Victoria, and the other to provide advice and assistance to the negotiating team.
- We’re putting together a plan to represent climber’s viewpoints to the general public.
HOW CAN YOU FIND OUT WHAT IS HAPPENING?
- You can follow CliffCare, the VCC’s access arm on Facebook or check the website regularly updates: https://cliffcare.org.au/
- More information can also be found by following Vertical Life on Facebook or again checking the website www.verticallifemag.com.au
- We will be hosting an event where we can come together to discuss these issues, and where you can meet your representatives in person and ask questions.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
- Most important: respect all bans that have been put in place by Parks Victoria. If you hear of anyone who is planning to climb in any of these areas, please inform them of the ban.
- If you have skills that you think might be useful to the VCC, become a volunteer and assist our efforts. Contact email@example.com
- You can become a member of the VCC here: https://vicclimb.org.au/join/. The VCC is the organisation that supports CliffCare, or you can donate to CliffCare directly here: https://cliffcare.org.au/about/donate/
- If you have other questions that you feel are not answered here, please feel free to email: firstname.lastname@example.org