Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Ku-ring-gai Electorate Scouts Groups

Scouts members on grass in front of scrubs

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai—Minister for Skills and Training, and Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology) (18:10): At a time when many people are seeking a greater sense of community and a break from the indoors, the residents of Ku-ring-gai have stepped up and continue to demonstrate their leadership skills and passion for the outdoors. What better reflection of those skills and love of the outdoors than the Scout Movement? In the Ku-ring-gai electorate several Scout groups continue to thrive. They include the 1st Wahroonga, 1st East Wahroonga, 1st Gordon, 2nd Gordon, 1st Pymble, West Pymble, 1st Turramurra, 2nd Turramurra, 1st North Turramurra and Normanhurst Scout groups. Scouting provides many benefits to young and older people alike through developing resilience and good character and facilitating social connections. One of my favourite qualities of Scouts is their ability to instil leadership skills in young people, providing a myriad of benefits that last a lifetime. However, becoming a Scout leader is no easy feat. Leaders undertake multiple training courses, including Work Health and Safety Act training, ChildSafe training, first aid, navigation, abseiling and personal training skills. The pinnacle award for a Scout leader is the advanced leadership training or Wood Badge, which builds on the basic areas of leadership and personal development.

Recently, Ku-ring-gai Scouts launched a social media campaign to recognise their leaders past and present as part of the leadership training project. I enjoyed learning about the remarkable leaders in my local community, including Assistant Scout Leader Jenny from West Pymble, Assistant Scout Leader Peter from the 2nd Turramurra Scout Group and Assistant Scout Leader Harriet from the 1st Gordon Scout Group. Peter from the 2nd Turramurra is one of the longest serving assistant Scout leaders. He joined Scouts at the age of 12 in the 1960s due to his love of boating. Throughout his time he has learnt about the outdoors and made many friends along the way. After moving to Sydney he became a Scout leader and passed on the skills he learnt to his son. Peter has never forgotten what he learnt as a youth in Scouts, including sailing, abseiling and using box trailers.

Jenny from West Pymble is an assistant Scout leader who joined as a young member before becoming a leader, due to her love of adventure. Perhaps her most notable case for Scouts is the transferable skills she has learnt that are applicable in everyday life. In response to being asked what she most valued about Scouts, Harriet of the 1st Gordon said that it provides life skills that are not typically offered in the school curriculum, including camping, hiking, navigation, first aid and emergency training. They are just three of the many leaders in Ku‑ring‑gai Scouts who use their own leadership skills to teach young people those same skills. Personally, I believe those skills are critical for young people to flourish and become great leaders themselves.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the way that Scouts and Guides have taken a strong leadership position in the local community on Anzac Day. They have organised and run our dawn service at West Pymble Bicentennial Park and services at the Wahroonga memorial, the Turramurra memorial and the Kokoda memorial in Wahroonga. I also highlight Scouting's focus on the outdoors—something that should be encouraged and cherished by people of all generations. Ku-ring-gai is rich in bushland, parks and trails. I appreciate Scouts for encouraging young people to pursue outdoor physical activity. Research has shown that 71 per cent of Australian children and teenagers spend less than one hour a day outdoors, and one in two families do not spend time outdoors with their children more than twice a week. Simultaneously, our daily screen time has increased. While there are benefits to the digital medium, it is vital that we do not lose touch with the outdoors. This is why I welcome Scouts' continued growth and look forward to seeing their leadership training project attract even greater numbers to the organisation.

I am pleased that the New South Wales Government has supported our local Ku-ring-gai electorate Scout groups over the years through the Community Building Partnership program.

In 2021 multiple well-deserved grants to Scout groups in the Ku-ring-gai electorate were supported, as had occurred in previous years. I will always continue to support our great Scout troops and groups in the Ku-ring-gai electorate, who provide immense value to not only the members and the leaders within their Scout troops but also the wider community. It is great to see our local leaders being recognised and the continued presence of this longstanding organisation, which instils commendable and admirable traits and a love of the outdoors in our young people. I congratulate our great Ku-ring-gai Scout groups and the leaders who operate them and pass on valuable skills to our young men and women.