AS many as 750 young Scouts across WA will be denied access to Kidsport funding, according to Scouts WA chief executive Sherry Donaldson.
Ms Donaldson said they were told just before Christmas the State Government would remove Scouts from the Kidsport program as of July 1, a decision that would see access to the annual $200 fee contribution removed from hundreds of WA children.
Sports still eligible for the program have also had per-child contributions lowered from $200 to $150 a year as of January 1.
Sport and Recreation Minister Mick Murray said the original intent of the State Government’s KidSport initiative was to reduce the financial barrier for children from lower socio-economic backgrounds to participate in organised community sport.
“Under the former Government, the club eligibility criteria were relaxed, allowing them to be accessed by organisations that were not generally recognised as offering a sport,” he said.
“The State Government agency administering the KidSport program uses the definition of sport and recognised sporting organisations as defined by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC).
“Such organisations do not include Scouts.”
However Ms Donaldson said the Scouts did fit into their definition of sport.
“Physical activity is what we do; we’re all about physical activity, it’s what we’re all about,” she said.
“They want kids to be physically active and to be part of a club and we fit both of those.
“I would like the minister to go to the kids in these areas and tell them why their choice of physical activity and club membership is less important than kids doing other sports.”
With eight scout groups across the Armadale, Gosnells and Serpentine-Jarrahdale region, children within the south-east corridor are expected to be among the hardest hit.
The Thornlie-based Liddelow Scouts Group currently has 40 youth members, with 12 using Kidsport, but group leader Michelle Rainsforth said it was a decision that would affect all of their members.
“If we lose members due to Kidsport changes, we will have to increase our group membership fee again so we can still cover our running costs, registration fees and insurance, equipment maintenance, hall rental fees and more and that in turn will impact remaining members which may lead to more members leaving the group,” she said.
“If we lose many more than the 12 already using Kidsport, we will be too small in membership to be financially stable and will not be able to continue as a group.
“We don’t want to, or like to, be constantly thinking about the bottom line, the finances-we have a great group of youth members and we just want to get on with the fun and adventures of Scouting.”
Southern River MLA Terry Healy said as a former scout he knew the value of the organisation but believed funding from other areas would keep the organisation “strong”.
“Scouts WA continues to receive significant amounts of State Government funding through other revenue streams not associated with the Kidsport program for example, a $218,475 Lotterywest grant in August 2017 as well as $432,000 from the Department of Communities,” he said.
“Scouts will continue to be able 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.”