ELLENBROOK Scout Group leaders are disappointed by a decision to cut scout groups from the KidSport funding program, meaning many children will be unable to afford membership as of next year.
Last month, the State Government announced Scouts WA would no longer qualify for the funding, which has provided $200 towards membership fees since 2012.
The reduction from $200 to $150 came into effect on January 1 and the club eligibility criteria will be phased in over the following six months to July 1.
Venturer Scout leader Karen Clark said the Ellenbrook Scouts would lose about six members, who currently relied on the funding, unless other arrangements could be made.
She said the announcement was a blow to the children who loved being involved in scouts.
“These are kids who don’t play other sports, but love being part of Scouts, because it keeps them social, gives them skills, and aids their physical and mental wellbeing,” she said.
“It’s very disappointing that the State Government can’t see that.”
She said the group was due to have a meeting next week to discuss possible options for the children impacted by the cuts.
“I don’t think they will be able to afford to cover the costs and I’m not sure we will be able to, but we are meeting to see what we can do,” she said.
Midland Scouts group leader Michelle Watters said within her group, 21 members received KidSport vouchers last year.
“The Midland group had 52 members last year and of that, 21 children used Kidsport funding,” she said.
“We are a lower socioeconomic area and many of these kids won’t be able to afford to come back.”
Scouts WA executive manager Sherry Donaldson said she was “heartbroken and bewildered” by the funding cut.
Ms Donaldson said Scouts helped kids become active and have less mental and physical health issues later in life.
“They are not all kids that necessarily want to go out and enjoy AusKick or a soccer club,” she said.
“We acknowledge that the Government needs to make saving cuts… if they set it to $1’50 from $200 across the board, I guess we will have to absorb that but what we can’t absorb is the whole $200.”
Sport and Recreation Minister Mick Murray said under the former Liberal-National Government, the club eligibility criteria were relaxed, allowing them to be accessed by organisations not generally recognised as offering a sport.
“The State Government agency administering the KidSport program uses the definition of sport and recognised sporting organisations as defined by the Australian Sports Commission… such organisations do not include Scouts,” he said.
Swan Hills MLA Jessica Shaw said there were a number of ways the McGowan Government supported both kids sports and the scouting movement.
“Here in Swan Hills, I recently secured $3000 for the Eastern Hills troop to purchase equipment,” she said.
“Last year the McGowan Government provided $700,000 to Scouts WA through the Department of Communities.
City of Swan groups affected by the cuts
– Ballajura Scout Group
– Beechboro Scout Group
– Ellenbrook Scout Group
– Gidgegannup Scout Group
– Hern Hill Scout Group
– Midland Scouts Group