In the early 1990s, Scouts Australia revised a number of its activities for its members and part of this was to highlight and emphasise Aboriginal culture through skill and activity tests.
During 1995, Scouts Australia and Guides Australia, with the assistance of the University of Technology, Sydney, developed a project kit Reconciliation for Young Australians. This extensive manual actively promotes the development of ongoing programs that will assist in teaching young people about Australia’s Indigenous heritage.
In earlier efforts, Scouts Australia had, with an element of success, conducted several programs in northern Australia. The limitations were that the programs were generally instigated by non-Indigenous community workers, relying on their limited tenure within the community. Similarly, the programs were operated in line with mainstream Scouts, with minimal community ownership and culturally specific content.
Since that time, further concentrated development has been attempted to introduce Scouting into Indigenous communities. Scouts Australia approached a number of Aboriginal councils to see where Scouting and Scouting methods could assist in the formation of a Scout Group for Indigenous people. The start was made and communities started to take up ownership of the Scout Group.
From this beginning, a number of prominent people from Indigenous communities, the Council of Aboriginal Reconciliation and Scouts Australia came together to review the future direction. This has developed into the Scouting in Indigenous Communities Program.
The objectives of the Scouting in Indigenous Communities Program have been developed in relation to the specific cultural needs of Indigenous young people and their communities. The program aims to:
- encourage young people to actively participate in the development of their communities with recognition and respect for the dignity of other people and for the preservation of the environment;
- provide opportunities for young Indigenous people to develop personal and group relationships by enhancing their emotional and social well-being;
- provide the opportunity to develop strong cross-generational links with older community members through a range of traditional cultural activities;
- provide challenging and appealing activities for Indigenous Scouting participants designed to build self-determination and meaningful life opportunities;
- develop a sense of achievement and belonging among young people within their communities;
- encourage cross-cultural exchanges that will enhance the reconciliation process;
- learn by doing;
- stimulate the search for knowledge and encourage active participation in education; and
- provide a wide range of attractive, constructive and challenging outdoor adventures, exploration activities and fun.