Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids camp

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Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids camp

Postby Son of a Beach » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 10:07 am

So as not to further side track the other topic, Tas PWS Parks Fee Changes at end August 2020, I'm continuing this in its own topic.

Son of a Beach on 17 August 2020 wrote:...for the annual youth camp that I've been helping to run for the past few years... for the first time this year, PWS have rejected our application for an educational exemption because the exemptions are for (and I quote), "bone-fide (sic) educational purposes, not leisure activities". I find it quite disturbing that the PWS bureaucracy thinks that fun and education are mutually exclusive. Some of them must have had a terrible upbringing. I mean, of all people you'd think that PWS would appreciate that education can be achieved by enjoyable activities.

In my opinion, it is impossible for a child to NOT learn some valuable lessons on their first overnight bushwalk. I mean life lessons like this, learned while out doing/being/seeing are at least as valuable as formal maths, science and english from a book. I could not sleep last night. I was so upset. (Yes, I am trying to have the decision overturned.)

At an extra $80 $40 each, I don't think the camp would be feasible at all. Some of these kids' families can't afford the camp fees even without this additional cost (some get sponsored to attend by generous schools or other entities who appreciate the benefit to particular children).


I was genuinely shocked that any staff in PWS believe that it's possible for kids to have their first overnight bushwalk and NOT learn some valuable lessons!
Last edited by Son of a Beach on Mon 07 Sep, 2020 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Son of a Beach » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 10:17 am

Soon after posting the above comments (to the other topic) I submitted a new application with a lot more detail, with substantial help from Tastrax.

~3 weeks later I received a brief email from Freycinet PWS simply stating that they're still reviewing this application. By any stretch of the imagination, that's appalling service.

Our camp is in 4 weeks time and the parents (and kids) need to know where the kids will be camping and how much it will cost.

So our hand has been forced and we have had to abandon the idea of taking the kids into a national park and we have selected another location that is not in a national park. Unfortunately, it is not as remote as we would like an overnight bushwalk to be, but I think that is probably not going to bother the kids as much as it bothers the leaders. (It also makes it easier to drop off drinking water at the "remote" camp site, as we can do it by car instead of on foot!).

I will at some point let PWS Freycinet know that we've given up hope in their park's capacity to provide an educational experience for the kids, but before I do, I'm curious to find out just how long it will take them to provide an answer, as well as what that answer might actually be.

I guess they've just been too busy dealing with all the extra tourists they're getting during the winter in the middle of a pandemic.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby doogs » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 10:24 am

I totally agree with you Nik. As part of my 'Dad school' during the COVID period (post lockdown but before they went back to school) I incorporated outdoor education into my kids weekly routine. It enabled me to teach boring subjects in a less boring way; such as maths, geography, science.. and the list could continue. This was on top of the skills they developed in the outdoor environment :)
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 11:20 am

Yeh another example of this once great organisation putting $$$ before anything else.

Sorry to hear this Nik it must be very disappointing.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby tastrax » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 11:45 am

That's appalling Nik - please keep us informed.

Looks like Parks are pushing these types of "educational visits" but I suspect for many the costs are bit out of reach.

https://encountermaria.com.au/wp-conten ... -Camps.pdf
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Nuts » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 11:56 am

Parks INC

Noticed some new names in P&W finance wing, guessing increased workload of refunds/ finding savings, suspecting tasks nobody wanted..
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby ghosta » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 6:08 pm

Telephone your local member of parliment. Should get this sorted pretty quickly.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Watertank » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 9:43 pm

How many kids do you take on the camp? Just wondering what the all up Parks fees are?
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby north-north-west » Wed 09 Sep, 2020 10:30 am

tastrax wrote:Looks like Parks are pushing these types of "educational visits" but I suspect for many the costs are bit out of reach.

https://encountermaria.com.au/wp-conten ... -Camps.pdf


Given that it includes ferry and accommodation, it's not bad value for Maria. But not the sort of thing Nik needs.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Son of a Beach » Fri 11 Sep, 2020 11:18 am

Watertank wrote:How many kids do you take on the camp? Just wondering what the all up Parks fees are?


There are usually 15-18 kids, plus 4-6 adults, for four days. There will probably be fewer this year (but difficult to predict anything this year).
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Son of a Beach » Fri 11 Sep, 2020 11:35 am

north-north-west wrote:
tastrax wrote:Looks like Parks are pushing these types of "educational visits" but I suspect for many the costs are bit out of reach.

https://encountermaria.com.au/wp-conten ... -Camps.pdf


Given that it includes ferry and accommodation, it's not bad value for Maria. But not the sort of thing Nik needs.
TasPAWS really is going down the gurgler.


Actually, this could be interesting. We did do Maria Island for this camp in 2017 (the only year we didn't do Freycinet before this year). We did it entirely independently and haven't been back because it was too expensive.

I suspect that this camp would be based entirely at Darlington, but if we could get a version of it that included the walk to (and camp one night at) French's Farm or Encampment Cove, that might work well. Although, I wouldn't want to be tied too much into PWS educational agenda, as we already have a bunch of stuff that we want to do. Also, 3 days isn't enough - we like to do 4 days. But it may be worth talking to them, and seeing if a modified version of this would be available for next year.

Although $90 per person, plus all our usual costs would still be too expensive, I think. But I'll have to look into it further.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby north-north-west » Fri 11 Sep, 2020 12:24 pm

Ferry is only $28 for children, extra for luggage of course, with special pricing for groups over ten; if you're independent and camp at French's the only other cost is Parks Passes, where you run into the same issue you had with Freycinet this year - getting TasPAWS to give you an exemption (or at least reduction).
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Son of a Beach » Fri 11 Sep, 2020 1:12 pm

north-north-west wrote:Ferry is only $28 for children, extra for luggage of course, with special pricing for groups over ten; if you're independent and camp at French's the only other cost is Parks Passes, where you run into the same issue you had with Freycinet this year - getting TasPAWS to give you an exemption (or at least reduction).


Actually, now that I look at it more closely, the $90 seems like terrible value for money! Camp fees at Maria Is are minimal, and the ferry is $28 per head, and if this is a genuine "educational" camp, then park fees should be exempt (as per PWS policy). So what does the rest of the money pay for? ~$50 per child for the Discovery Ranger's time? I know that the discovery rangers do some activities for free if you happen to be there at the right time and place (we did it with our kids a few years ago - and the kids loved it). Alternatively, our camp leaders can provide some useful education, as per usual.

If we do it independently, it would be $28 for the ferry, $0 for park fees (if educational exemption was granted) and ~$20 camp fees. $48 total, and we could provide our own education, thank you very much. :-)
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Nuts » Sat 12 Sep, 2020 7:56 am

I like this idea of service, potentially a great intro to parks for kids. It does seem expensive for what is included, but is probably cheap for anything involving employing someone. I can't see a group discount so they may also be speculating on cost to afford smaller groups. If this is the case, scaled pricing would still seem more appropriate (transparent).
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Son of a Beach » Mon 14 Sep, 2020 8:31 am

Nuts wrote:I like this idea of service, potentially a great intro to parks for kids. It does seem expensive for what is included, but is probably cheap for anything involving employing someone. I can't see a group discount so they may also be speculating on cost to afford smaller groups. If this is the case, scaled pricing would still seem more appropriate (transparent).


I reckon you're probably right. I'm just a bit grumpy at PWS for now.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Thornbill » Mon 14 Sep, 2020 12:33 pm

Nuts wrote:I like this idea of service, potentially a great intro to parks for kids. It does seem expensive for what is included, but is probably cheap for anything involving employing someone. I can't see a group discount so they may also be speculating on cost to afford smaller groups. If this is the case, scaled pricing would still seem more appropriate (transparent).


Appropriate and transparent. Two words that don't spring to mind to describe PWS of late unfortunately.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Nuts » Thu 17 Sep, 2020 12:54 pm

No, though increasingly common political speak.
Whatever the reason, lack of wealth or lack of an appropriate category should never be an excuse to deny anyone, especially Tasmanian kids.
That there is so much educational value in just camping is enough, not that proof should even be necessary.
I can imagine the grump, as at the other end $10 would lease an entire private island for a good few days. Ongoing free park access is included in that lease.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby wildwanderer » Thu 17 Sep, 2020 9:18 pm

Ring up your local paper + MP.

They will be all over this in a heartbeat. Should get it sorted quickly.

It's disadvantaged kids attending a youth camp.. you cant get much more deserving an exemption than that..

Edit. Just saw you had to abandon the park visit. :(
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Son of a Beach » Fri 18 Sep, 2020 9:35 am

I have just sent the following follow-up email to Freycinet PWS:

Hi <removed>,

Thanks for your email (below) from a couple of weeks ago letting me know that our application is still being considered.  This is not directed at you personally, but at those responsible for making decisions - or to be more accurate, at those responsible for NOT making decisions, in this case.

I'm am disgusted at the lack of cooperation from PWS on this issue.  It is appalling and completely unacceptable that such a decision should take more than a month (and counting) to get an answer.  Goodness knows how long it actually would take if I continued to wait.

It baffles my mind that staff at PWS, of all places, believe it's possible for a group of school kids to go on their first remote-area overnight bushwalk and NOT get a useful education from it, no matter what the actual camp program includes.  I've yet to find an experienced bushwalker who thinks otherwise.

It feels like PWS are almost hostile to our group and our camps and therefore we have had to completely abandon the idea of visiting Freycinet this year.  I hope that we may be able to return in future years if PWS would consider becoming more hospitable to school kids, and more prompt in responding to our applications.

With this year's camp being less than four weeks away, we needed to firm up our plans so that kids, parents and leaders could be fully informed regarding the camp location and program.  Therefore we have decided to go elsewhere - outside of a national park, because PWS appear to have no interest in facilitating our kids' experiences.

Regards,

Nik.


PS. A prompt reply says that they will try to look into it today (all too late for us). They also clarified that because we are not a school (and despite the fact that the kids are all grade 6-8) we are being assessed under the non-school category which states:

Tertiary institution/other community groups: Exemptions will be authorised based on the contribution provided to the management of the reserve system.


Further correspondence says that some community groups have been erroneously granted exemptions in the past and that they are clamping down on this. I got the impression that the exact policy/requirements are not entirely clear to the people making decisions around what can be granted an exemption. I have asked them to provide more clarity around the policy if possible.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby geoskid » Fri 18 Sep, 2020 9:21 pm

Son of a Beach wrote:


Further correspondence says that some community groups have been erroneously granted exemptions in the past and that they are clamping down on this. I got the impression that the exact policy/requirements are not entirely clear to the people making decisions around what can be granted an exemption. I have asked them to provide more clarity around the policy if possible.

It would be great if you could pass that clarity on when it becomes available SoaB. In the meantime, could you provide some clarity around the type of 'youth group' that you are seeking this exemption for - specifics would be great. Oh, and the basis for your claims for what PWS people apparently think about educational opportunities for kids purely because your application was rejected. Cheers.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Nuts » Sat 19 Sep, 2020 7:31 am

Kids who's families can't afford fees. Anyone who has worked with 'lower income families' knows that Parks just aren't very relevant when discretionary income doesn't exist and have become irrelevant or even dispised to generations.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Son of a Beach » Mon 21 Sep, 2020 8:03 am

geoskid wrote:It would be great if you could pass that clarity on when it becomes available SoaB.


Yes, I will aim to do so.

In the meantime, could you provide some clarity around the type of 'youth group' that you are seeking this exemption for - specifics would be great.


It's not a regular youth group as such. I volunteer for an organisation* that runs a variety of kids camps and other youth oriented programs. (I'm not going to mention them here, as I'm not a media liason for them.) These camps are open to all youth from anywhere, but we work closely with schools (including principals and chaplains) to encourage kids who they believe would particularly benefit from these experiences, and sometimes they (or others) will sponsor a child to attend. This usually results in a number of kids who would not otherwise get such an opportunity, and often kids with backgrounds very different to what I'm used to. This includes kids from families who would never consider visiting a national park and/or cannot afford to visit a national park.

Oh, and the basis for your claims for what PWS people apparently think about educational opportunities for kids purely because your application was rejected. Cheers.


You may need to be more specific about which of my claims you're interested in. Of course, I'm sure you'll appreciate that my reactions are facetious and exaggerated at times.

I don't know much about what PWS think about educational opportunities which is why I've asked them (multiple times) for more information about what they require. All I do know is what was included in their responses, the relevant parts of which I posted earlier.

Eg, the way they worded their reply to my initial application makes it appear that some of their decision makers think that having fun is inconsistent with educational outcomes - the only reason they gave for rejecting the initial application was that exemptions are for "bone-fide (sic) educational purposes, not leisure activities". (Ironic that the people making decisions around the quality of education can't spell their responses properly. But now I'm just being mean. Sorry.)

Also, the fact that a comprehensive justification that details all of the educational plans is required as part of the application implies that they don't believe a valuable educational outcomes are likely simply from doing a remote overnight bushwalk in a national park. I had naively expected that PWS would consider it a good thing to have a bunch of school kids do a remote camp in a national park and that learning outcomes was implied. Yes, it turns out that was naive, but it appeared to be supported by the fact that our FOUR previous years applications contained very little detail and were all approved quickly, with no questions asked. I think it has probably been these multiple accepted SIMPLE applications that led me to believe that PWS were keen to simply get kids into national parks and that kids would simply learn from the experience of camping there and that it was worth waiving their fees for this. NOW, (after my second application for this year), they have told me that these four applications were approved in error.

After my second application, I never got a result... they took so long that we had to change our plans to not use a national park. So I do not know if it would have been accepted or not. However, they did point out the fine print which provides a little more context around their justification for the initial rejection. They say that because we are not a school, they actually require our educational program to be based around "contribution provided to the management of the reserve system". I don't yet know exactly what this means, but it sounds to me like the only kind of education that would be acceptable for the purposes of an exemption for a non-school group of school-aged kids would be a educational program that markets the work of PWS to the kids (which my second application actually DID do).

Yes, I am being facetious - don't try to analyse it too much further than that. :-)

* Actually, I volunteer for two organisations that run youth camps, but the other one just pays for parks fees where required, as they or the families can afford it.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby tastrax » Mon 21 Sep, 2020 10:29 am

Son of a Beach wrote: "contribution provided to the management of the reserve system".


This appears to be 'corporate speak' for ..... 'depends how much work you volunteer to do whilst in the park because we are chronically underfunded by the current government'
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Son of a Beach » Tue 13 Oct, 2020 7:51 am

Thanks to all for their interest in this camp, and in kids getting out bushwalking.

We held the camp at Bay of Fires last Friday to Sunday. It was supposed to also include Thursday, but we decided that a tent-based camp in torrential rain for inexperienced kids in dodgy tents was not a good idea (in fact even for experienced adults in quality tents it would have been somewhat unpleasant).

The camp was a terrific success and the kids all had a fantastic time. It wasn't the "remote" bushwalk that we'd been aiming for, but the kids all still carried full packs for a hour or so to/from the camp site, and did another ~3 hour day walk further up the coast.

The advantage of the revised location was that we were able to deliver large quantities of fresh fruit, a large rain shelter and plenty of camp chairs to the camp site by bus/car, all of which were much appreciated by kids and leaders!
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Son of a Beach » Wed 25 Aug, 2021 1:34 pm

It's that time of year again. And again PWS has rejected my application. This time on the grounds that:

PWS wrote:There is not an exemption from park entry fees for not for profit organisations.


Which I reckon is sad for the kids, and sad for PWS. It still appears as though PWS believe that the only education worth having must be provided by formal education institutions. This did not used to be the case, as they've welcomed this particular group for several years up until last year.

In addition, they won't allow us to camp in the park at all if there are more than 17 of us. With a our usual 6 adult leaders and 4 junior leaders, that would only allow for a maximum of 7 regular signed-up campers. I can understand this restriction, but it makes the camp unviable in a national park.

So I'm back to the drawing board of trying to find a remote bushwalking/camping (relative) "wilderness" location to take the kids to that is a short-ish walk, won't get trashed by a moderately large group, and has a toilet. And preferably within ~2.5 hours drive of Launceston 9 (by car... 3 hours by our bus).

I've been completely unable to find such a place.

I might call the people about Lees Paddocks, but they may not want a large group there either (even if we dig a single shared pit toilet in suitable location - if they would allow such a thing).

Maybe Belvoir Rd to Cradle Rd?

Any other ideas?
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby wildwanderer » Sun 29 Aug, 2021 8:44 am

Thats fairly tough mate.

With COVID making size restrictions strictly enforced the only option may be to split the group.

This will also be a compromise but have you considered joining or partnering with an organisation like scouts etc? They could potentially provide the right paperwork for the fee exemption/park use and other support you may need.

Also maybe have a chat to your local MP or the MP whose electorate is in the camp location. They are well connected to community organisations and could help find a non profit edu partner or even a camp location.
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Re: Tas PWS Deny Edu Exemption to Fees for grade 6-8 kids ca

Postby Son of a Beach » Mon 30 Aug, 2021 1:05 pm

wildwanderer wrote:Thats fairly tough mate.

With COVID making size restrictions strictly enforced the only option may be to split the group.

This will also be a compromise but have you considered joining or partnering with an organisation like scouts etc? They could potentially provide the right paperwork for the fee exemption/park use and other support you may need.

Also maybe have a chat to your local MP or the MP whose electorate is in the camp location. They are well connected to community organisations and could help find a non profit edu partner or even a camp location.


I don't think splitting this group would be feasible (in terms of numbers of leaders, and/or available times), but your ideas of partnering with another organisation may be worth investigating. But from my further correspondence with PWS there are now only TWO ways of getting an educational exemption:

1. Be a school.

2. Be a community group that will use the time in the park to do some sort of work towards the improvement of parks management.

I also do walks (in the same park) with the scouts, and they do not bother trying to get an exemption.
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