Scouts WA have called for the state’s Department for Sport and Recreation to reconsider cuts to Kidsport funding for Scouts, a move set to affect more than 700 members.
The funding per child per year decreased from $200 to $150 on January 1, 2018, and a change to the scheme’s definition of ‘sport’ on July 1 will make members of Scouts ineligible to apply.
Scouts WA chief executive Sherry Donaldson said she had until close of business Wednesday, January 31, to put forward a submission to the Australian Sports Commision to have Scouts recognised by the body.
Currently, the government agency administering the KidSport program use the definition of sport as defined by the national Sports Commission.
Sport and Recreation minister Mick Murray said the state’s Scouts movement was ‘professionally and profitably managed’, with an annual profit of more than the total annual KidSport subsidy provided to members.
“I acknowledge and appreciate the valuable work that Scouts do in the community and the great social, educational, physical activity and experiential opportunities the organisation offers to those who join,” he said.
“Scouts will be able – as has been the case to date – to access other sources of government funding via the Department of Communities’ “Youth” budget for the provision of services and programs and through Lotterywest grants.
“Government has offered to advise and support Scouts in making this transition and is keen to assist them develop a similar, tailored program based on the KidSport model, where they can disseminate more of their government funding and/or profits to help disadvantaged young people who want to participate in the scouting movement.”
Ms Donaldson said she was ‘bewildered’ by the statement, with the organisation receiving the grants to deliver their services.
“They give us money to deliver a service, now they’re saying you don’t need the money and we can take it away,” she said.
“We don’t ask for money that we don’t need, they don’t give us all the money that we ask for and we haven’t become profitable.
“Last year, we were in surplus but the years before we have an operating deficit.
“Like every small business, we must have capital or something in reserves to deliver our programs and pay our bills.”
Ms Donaldson said that, if the government ‘really and truly’ wanted children to be fit and involved in the community, Scouts ‘fitted the bill’.
“At the moment, I’ve got 723 kids that really need Scouts WA to get them reinstated under the Sports scheme,” she said.
“Why is the choice of a kid who chooses Scouts not as important as the choice of a kid who chooses football to keep fit?”
It is estimated the cuts will affect one in three Esperance Scout Group members.
Member for Roe Peter Rundle said the government were ‘losing sight’ of the elementary parts of the community and it was a bizarre decision.
“It’s really disappointing for the kids and parents affected and I place this in the same category as the recent education cuts in the regions,” he said.
“The Scout’s have been categorised as not being a sport but, really, these organisations cater to children who aren’t interested in participating in team sports.
“Not to mention the fact that it is becoming harder and harder to even apply for the funding.
“I really hope the state government rethinks this decision.”
Ms Donaldson extended thanks to Esperance Scout leader Carmel Halls for her hardwork and commitment.