President’s Report Outdoor Education Australia 2021/2022
The last 2.5 years have presented challenges to all organisations including those supporting Outdoor Education in our schools. Here’s an update from our Chair, Peter McKenna.
The executive body of Outdoor Education Australia is run by volunteers drawn from those working across Outdoor Education in Australia. The Outdoor education sector and our suppliers have been severely impacted by Covid-19 closures and regulations related to school excursions and the like. In this environment, maintaining the organisation has been a major challenge, let alone undertaking any new projects. As such, OEA has focussed on maintenance rather than development for 2021/2022 and has quietly gone about the business of providing important national infrastructure for the practice of Outdoor Education in our schools.
- maintaining the connection between State Outdoor Education Associations
- providing a national resource for Outdoor Education via the website and facebook site
- providing support where it can to the National Outdoor Education Conference organising committee
- ensuring the Australian Journal of Outdoor Environmental Education journal receives the support it needs to carry on their good work,
- plan and implement national awards
- manage finances to ensure viability of OEA
- providing advice to ACARA for the revised national curriculum
- providing other support to State bodies on request
- providing representation to the Outdoor Council of Australia
THE GOOD NEWS!
Each state continues to have 2 representatives but only one vote (or full membership) per state organisation as per the OEA constitution. OEA also has an associate membership.One representative must be a current or past practitioner. The current representatives are below. Please raise any concerns you have about Outdoor Education nationally with them to feed into to the quarterly meetings.
- Qld – Peter McKenna and Brendon Munge/Glyn Thomas.
- Vic– Richard Thornton and Sandy Allen-Craig
- SA – Chris Hodgson and Scott Polley/Nick Glover
- NSW & ACT – Peter Kent and Mark Brackenreg
- Tas – Kaylah Rataj and Robert Tuck
- WA – Colin Thurlow and Peter Treeby
- NT – Constantin Gerasimon and David Atkins (pic)
- JOEE rep – John Quay.
Each state association takes on a role to support the operation of OEA:
- WA – Manage the awards
- OEASA – Oversee web site and social media with Action Communications
- OEAQ – Chair and Finances, including sponsorship
- Vic – Journal
Other states make spot contributions as the need arises.
At the AGM on 12/05/2022 the Executive was elected for 2022/2023 as follows:
- President – Peter McKenna (pic at bottom)
- Vice President – Peter Kent
- Treasurer – Phil Noble
- Secretary – Kim Wood (pic right)
Organisations with full membership are eligible for reduced fees for members subscription to the national journal. Thanks to the great work of John Quay, Glyn Thomas and Tonia Gray the Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education has continued to provide 3 journals per year (21 articles). The journal now has an international reputation for excellence with the result that submissions are increasingly of international attraction and relevance. This is having the impact of further advancing Australian Outdoor Education ideas, research and practices both locally and internationally. The journal recently increased its ranking from Q3 to Q1 in the quality rankings resulting in a ranking higher than our British, European and American counterparts.
The National Curriculum 9.0 has now been released (see here) with OEA contributing to increased attention to outdoor learning in the Health and Physical Education curriculum. OEA representatives will work with ACARA to update the current ‘Curriculum Connections: Outdoor Learning’ site that has been accessed and utilized by hundreds of schools and organisations to help shape Outdoor Education offerings that successfully include the learning areas of Health and Physical Education, Science and Humanities and Social Science, as well as cross-curricular priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Sustainability, and general capabilities of Critical and Creative Thinking and Personal and Social Capability.
Thanks to the hard work of many within the Outdoors NSW & ACT team the National Outdoor Education Conference looks set to finally take place in the Blue Mountains on 26-28 September. The challenges that the organising team have faced as a result of COVID-19 restrictions have been enormous. The conference provides an opportunity to rebuild that essential national face-to-face connection, take stock and continue to build towards the future.
Outdoor Education Australia awards were conducted for the first time in 2021 to recognised the inspirational and transformative programs and educators across Australia, with sponsorship support from Wilderness Equipment. All the details can be found here on our website. Awards have now opened for 2022 with award nominations closing 15 July with a new award category added ‘Emerging Practitioner’ that is to acknowledge excellence in those that are 25 or under. Entry details can be found here.
Finances & Sponsorship
Up until recently, Outdoor Education has received sponsorship from Wilderness Equipment and Macpac. However, Wilderness Equipment sponsorship has been re-directed to the National Outdoor Education Conference that experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19 and Macpac appear unlikely to continue. OEA would like to sincerely thank these companies for their sponsorship of OEA over the years that has greatly impacted our capacity to support Outdoor Education nationally.
Currently the Journal fees and subscriptions cover the shortfall between the costs of publication of the Journal with Springer Nature and the royalties received. However, a shortfall remains with the cost of running the OEA website, awards, communications as well as other expenses.
OEA will need to source additional funding and is looking at sustainable ways of doing this, including sponsorship of the Journal of Outdoor Environmental Education and a return to profit share with the next National Conference. If you are aware of sponsors that seek to be associated with Outdoor Education Australia please get in touch and a sponsorship agreement document can be sent.
After 10 years in the role of Chair/President of OEA I am also looking to step back a little in the role. Although I remain passionate and hope to stay on as a State representative it is time for new leadership and energy! I look forward to working with the next President of OEA.