Reflecting back on 2017, I’d like share with you some of my highlights as CEO of Outdoors Victoria’s and the work we did supporting the Outdoors sector of Victoria

I was very pleased to convene senior representatives from peak associations, government departments and agencies together at the Charting Opportunities Forum in March. There were a number of new faces, myself included, so it was a perfect icebreaking opportunity to begin the new year by developing a closer network for future collaboration.

I was proud of how the whole crew, OV & Bendigo LaTrobe, staff & students,  managed to pull OV’s Education Outdoors Conference together. It’s really incredible the amount of work that goes into such an event with over 400 attendees each day, 60 presenters and 25 exhibitors. The successful addition of the pre-conference research day, highlighted the ideas and enthusiasm Australia has for joining other countries in bringing the importance of eduction outdoors to the fore.

We are continuing the good work we started in Aug 2016 on the Safety Guidelines for Education Outdoors with a change of Secretariat. We had to say goodbye to Josh Ambrosy, who moved on to DET’s Stem School- Earth Ed. Dave Hagel has done a wonderful job taking up the reins, alongside our very own Chair Mark Dingle and board member Steve Mc Murtrie on the Safety Guidelines Panel.

In 2017 we introduced our ‘Outdoor Professional Learning’ series– for educators in the learning outdoors space. We supported the production of case studies on Outdoor Learning for the Department of Education to spread the word of the physical activity, wellbeing and academic benefits of education outdoors. We also project managed four authors to overhaul Cambridge Press’s VCE Outdoor Education exam guide, encouraging students to dive head first into a career in the Outdoors sector. Don’t forget to get your copy before next year.

OV continued as Secretariat of the inaugural Australian Adventure Activity Standards, which by completion will have worked with 200 volunteer technical experts across the country.

It’s a massive undertaking that at times is very challenging and we salute OV’s Murray Irwin, many other committed volunteers across the sector, and the steering committee for their ability to stay on their board in sometimes choppy seas.

We are dedicated to continually improving our processes and are committed to producing a user-friendly set of documents.

Quite recently we hosted our 4th Nature-based Tourism Forum, this time at the NAB Arena in the heart of Melbourne. The were some lively and informative presentations from senior people across the sector. The networking opportunities were extended this year and a popular highlight was the breakout session which afforded participants the opportunity to get up close and personal with senior Parks Vic staff.

In 2017 we focused our Advocacy torch on the work of Australia’s Bush Adventure Therapists. There’s more to be done in this space as we believe in the intrinsic value of therapy and activities in the outdoors. The International Conference comes to Woolongong Australia in 2018

We also proudly played our part in successfully helping stop the path of the Marine Safety Act Amendments through State Parliament, working with DEDJTR and a number of other peak associations to make changes to enhance the fairness of the legislation to ensure Victorians can both enjoy the outdoors and do it safely.

Over the past 12 months we have managed to settle in to a regular monthly online newsletter full of interesting information, tidbits, links, images for your reading pleasure. We hope you continue to enjoy it, contribute to it and pass on to friends- we love seeing that little subscriber number go up! Here’s a link to our monthly newsletter archive.

Our Annual report, and attached financials are online now , so feel free to take a look.

We also farewelled three Board members who retired this year – Angela Rutter, Peter Martin, Chris Towers and we salute them for their huge contribution. We welcome four new Board members, Sophie Bone, Reegan Key, Sandy Allen-Craig and Richard Thornton.

Thank you for your support in 2017 and also in embracing our new affiliate membership structure to boost our sustainability and provide more value to members.

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