GRAMPIANS COMMUNITY UPDATE APRIL 18 2019

WHAT IS THE GRAMPIANS ACCESS WORKING GROUP (GAWG)

The Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG) was formed in February this year by the Victorian Climbing Club and CliffCare to respond to the unexpected closures to climbing in the Grampians. We want to provide an update to the climbing community about our approach, what we have been doing and how you can get involved. You can find out more about the group and the people involved HERE

The ban on climbing is an understandably emotive issue and there have been many individual responses from within the climbing community. GAWG believes that ongoing collaboration with Parks Victoria and the Traditional Owners is the way to achieve the best outcome for climbing in the Grampians. Climbers will always need to maintain a relationship with Parks Victoria as the legitimate managers of the Grampians and it is important that we recognise their very real concerns about the impacts of climbing on the park. We intend to work with PV to find a resolution that meets these concerns and provides the best possible outcome for climbing. In doing so we hope to build a positive reputation for climbers as responsible custodians of the environment and cultural heritage.

WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING?

We have written to PV to express our disappointment at the lack of consultation before the climbing bans were imposed and to point out the previous long history of cooperation between climbers, land managers and traditional owners to address access issues in the Grampians and elsewhere.

We have made contact with local MP Emma Kealy and Minister Lily D’Ambrosio to inform them of our concerns regarding the closures, highlighting our desire to work with PV to address any issues.

We have contacted PV to formally request written reasons for the 8 closures in the Victoria range and the subsequent 29 closures in new Special Protection Areas (SPA). This is in ongoing correspondence.

We are working with PV to ascertain precisely which climbing sites are banned, including in the older and the newly declared SPAs.

Our intention is to look at the specific issues at each climbing site with PV to better understand if there are genuine conflicts with cultural or environmental values – and how these might be addressed.

We have pointed out to PV some misinformation about climbing impacts on their website. This was acknowledged by PV and removed. We will pursue this issue further with PV.

We are preparing to participate in the PV Stakeholder Reference Group. This group is being set up by PV to address current access issues as well as longer term strategic planning for climbing both in the Grampians and the rest of Victoria.

Prior to the first SRG meeting, we will be meeting with PV to more fully understand the precise locations of concern as well as the processes that will govern the upcoming review of the Grampians Management Plan.

We are preparing a Climbing Management discussion report to help inform our conversations with PV.

We are working on the best ways to build our relationships with Traditional Owners which we feel is an integral part of moving forward.

Within the climbing community, we have hosted a change.org petition to demonstrate to Parks Victoria the number of people concerned by the bans. With 21,676 signatures, support was strong, thank you! On Wednesday 8th of May gyms in Victoria and South Australia will be hosting events to raise awareness, fundraise and educate climbers about issues that affect access. Make sure you head to your participating gym! Please follow updates from CliffCare and @climbforgrampians.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

Get informed

A Town Hall style session is coming to Natimuk’s Goatfest on 20th April in the Soldiers’  Memorial Hall. Here you can ask the presenters any questions that have been on your mind about the bans and CliffCare’s work.

Get educated

Gym workshops are coming to a climbing gym near you on May 8th, check out @climbforgrampians. Participate to get an understanding of best practices at the crag.
Ongoing workshops scheduled for gyms.

Get involved

If you have skills you think GAWG could use, get in touch via cliffcare@vicclimbing.org.au  Introduce yourself and your skills to get on our volunteer register.

Get generous

You can donate to CliffCare’s cause here.

Thanks,

GRAMPIANS ACCESS WORKING GROUP

7 thoughts on “GRAMPIANS COMMUNITY UPDATE APRIL 18 2019

  1. Two things:
    1) Last I heard, there were 29 areas that would be subject to further consideration before a decision was made on whether to ban climbing at these areas as well (i.e. in addition to the 8 areas recently declared). Now I read “and the subsequent 29 closures in new Special Protection Areas (SPA).” Seems I’ve missed something – what are these areas that are now added to the list of banned climbing areas (can you please provide a list)? When were they decreed as ‘no go’ areas as far as climbing is concerned? Will climbers climbing in these extra 29 areas also be charged and fined as per climbers who climb in any of the 8 areas originally decreed? Or will climbers just be told that no climbing is allowed in these 29 areas, but no enforcement (charging, fining) taking place (as PV suggested only a few weeks ago)?
    2) regarding “If you have skills you think GAWG could use, get in touch via cliffcare@vicclimbing.org.au ” – I was told that the two people in this country whose expertise is unsurpassed in successfully dealing with government bureaucracies and getting climbing bans reversed – namely Chris Williams and David Reeve – have offered their help, pro bono, but have received replies the gist of which was “thanks but no thanks, we have this under control” – I’d be appalled to think this might be true. Please let me know whether this was or wasn’t the case.

    • Hi Kevin,
      With regard to your questions about 29 areas and ‘seems I’ve missed something’, I’m not quite sure I follow what you are saying? All of that information is available in the various reports and updates out there and much on PV’s communications. Here is the PV media release for example on 15th Feb – Under the existing Grampians National Park Management Plan, rock climbing in Special Protection Areas is a prohibited activity however we recognise this plan is 10 years old and we need to review these areas in partnership with key stakeholders which may result in changes to boundaries. Further to the Special Protection Areas identified in the current management plan, 29 additional areas have also been set aside as Special Protection Areas, in which climbing is prohibited to protect their cultural and natural values. The materials being prepared will also have details of these places.
      Again re fining etc it is in all the various updates out there – enforcement will occur at the 8 key focus sites where climbing is not allowed. Climbing at other sites within the SPAs both already existing and 29 new additional areas is prohibited (as noted above) but PV has stated no enforcement will occur ie issuing infringements. This excerpt taken from their FAQ – In broader Special Protection Areas, Authorised Officers are educating park users by sharing the information materials on rock climbing and advising climbers if they are in a Special Protection Area where climbing is prohibited.

      If I am not understanding your question, you can always ask me next time you see me, but as I have noted above all that information is out there.

      Re your question about David Reeve and Chris Williams. Neither David nor Chris has contacted CliffCare offering help, pro bono. Therefore no replies as you have written in your comment.

      Thanks.

  2. Hi there

    You’ve made two very brief references to engaging with traditional owners. Ethically this should be the first and most important step.

    I won’t be signing the petition or other action until I better understand what the action to date has been and what the plan is moving forward on that front.

    Kind regards Hisham Moustafa VCC member

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Hi Hisham,,

      Many thanks for your comment and respect the reasons you have given.

      The community update is an overview.

      I can assure you that building relationships with Traditional Owners is an integral part of sharing the space and the protection of cultural heritage is a key issue for us.

      We are keen to share more information on this a little further down the track.

      Thanks.

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