Frequently Asked Questions

What does YPR mean?

YPR” stands for “Youth Program Review” – a project being undertaken by Scouts Australia to review all elements of the youth program and other areas of the organisation that interrelate to it. It is the first time in 40 years that Scouts Australia has looked at the program from beginning to end, from the youngest youth member, to the oldest.

What’s included in the YPR?

…Lots! If it’s something that young people do in Scouting, something that supports them to do it, or something fundamental to our organisation (which is, after all, about delivering a program to youth), then it’s in scope and could be up for review. If it’s not related to these things, then it may not be under review at the moment, but it might be up for review in the future or need to be tweaked once the YPR’s outcomes are being implemented.

To work out what things we most needed to review we asked the National Youth Council, who ran an open nation-wide online survey asking people what they thought were the “burning issues” in Scouting today. We asked people like the Branch Commissioners for sections and Branch Chief Commissioners; many of the Branches also ran discussions within their own teams. We’ve been listening to people’s feedback to all of our consultation strategies, including attendance at major events, focus groups and online surveys, as well as collected and carefully considered submissions on our website. We’ve commissioned professional research companies to conduct research for us, including talking to young people and their parents who have left Scouting recently, plus surveying the wider community and our own member families. We’ve come up with a whole range of different avenues to investigate, whilst still keeping our eyes and ears open for more things that may need review. The review is certainly taking us along on its journey.

You can see some of the areas we’ve already reviewed or are still reviewing by looking at the About, Research and Outcomes sections of our website.

Got something you think we need to look at? Drop us a line.

What’s “One Program”? Don’t we have five programs? Will the YPR get rid of sections?

Scouting should be thought of as one program: we offer one Scouting journey, we have one Scouting Aim, we use one Scout Method. We group the program into developmentally-appropriate sections in order to meet the individual needs of young people, to support personal progression, whilst still delivering one program. Over the past century however, we have fragmented our program by reviewing the sections independently, and we find ourselves today with a system that is internally inconsistent and does not always meet the needs of young people.

We are reviewing all of Scouting’s program together, as one, to try to return consistency, coherence, continuity and an appreciation of the developing needs of young people to our program. We have no intentions of getting rid of the idea of sections or of making them all the same. Young people are not the same at the age of 8 as at the age of 18, but we need to ensure that the one program journey of Scouting is the best it can be for each individual young person.

Is the YPR going to change sections?

Maybe! We’re not really sure yet. We’re reviewing our sections to make sure they’re appropriate for young people and their development in contemporary Australia, but we’re not sure what the answer will be just yet. It’s not a foregone conclusion that we’ll change them, we’re doing just as much research on the current system to see how it performs as on potential different ones, but it could happen. Watch this space! We’ll give you the opportunity to provide input on the different models, keep checking out our communication channels.

Will the Review be expensive?

To ensure success it is important that we invest the appropriate resources into the process. This includes completing the appropriate market research to determine the needs and desires of our wider community, engaging as many of our members as possible, and promoting our work to Scouting and the wider community. Due to the size of our country our biggest inhibitor is distance. The YPR has regular online meetings but ‘face-to-face’ meetings are critical at key planning and reporting times.

How is the YPR being funded?

Funding for the YPR will continue to evolve and change during the life of the review. The long-term goal is for the review is to fund itself, meaning that a successful review will retain members longer and motivate others to join Scouting; increased membership means increased revenue. Key funding strategies include –

  • The YPR is run by volunteers with the support of one paid project officer. Meetings have been combined to save travel costs and meeting locations are determined around impact on the budget.
  • Current National budgets are being used to fund aspects of the YPR. Other budgets (like our market research budget) have been reprioritised and thus used for the review.
  • Sponsorship and donations are being sought from the wider community. Already external support has covered some of our travel costs, and other forms of financial support for the review are being organised. Developing a program that supports over 60,000 Australian youth annually creates engagement with different companies and trust funds.

If you have any contacts with large corporations or philanthropists that may be able to support the YPR, then please contact the team immediately!

Will the YPR include Rovers?

The Review is about the entirety of Scouting’s youth program – everything we aim to do and everything we already do with young people who come to Scouts – so yes, of course it will include Rovers! Scouting should be thought of as one program: we offer one Scouting journey, we have one Scouting Aim, we use one Scout Method. We group the program into developmentally-appropriate sections in order to meet the needs of young people, but we are still delivering one program. If we’re going to review what our program is and what it looks like, then we need to make sure we consider everyone!

The YPR team is well aware that the Rover Review just occurred and a new award scheme is being rolled out (in fact, one member of our Coordinating Team has already earned his Baden-Powell Scout Award under the new system!). We are keen to support the implementation of all of the recommendations of the Rover Review, and to use the research and recommendations in the ongoing work of the YPR. We don’t know what the new program at the end of the YPR will look like; it might have a new award scheme for Rovers and other changes, but these won’t be ready to be rolled out for a couple of years. For the time being, Rovers should continue working toward the successful implementation of their new award scheme and other recommendations, but keep a sharp eye out for ways to engage with the YPR!

Is the YPR going to change Badges and Major Awards?

The award scheme for each section is just one component of the youth program, but as it is indeed a component, it definitely is included in the YPR. We need to ensure that the award scheme fits with one program, that it is developmentally-appropriate to young people, and that the award schemes of the various sections form a coherent, continuous whole as part of the youth program.

We don’t know exactly what the new award schemes or badges will look like as we’re not up to that stage yet in the review. There will be opportunities for Scouting members to provide feedback on what the award schemes should look like, what should be included, and what isn’t working currently – keep your eyes on the YPR’s updates to keep up-to-date with what’s happening and how you can be involved.

A central idea to our award scheme is that it should encourage and support personal progression, so it must allow youth of all ages to be recognised for their personal development no matter what age or section they are in.

Are we going to get another new uniform?

The uniform is one area of Scouts Australia that does not really have much to do with directly supporting the delivery of the program, so we have no plans to review it as part of the YPR at this stage.

Are we going to get a new Promise and Law? Is the YPR getting rid of God and Queen?

We don’t know for sure just yet! The fundamentals, including the Promise and Law, have already undergone a significant review as part of the YPR, but we’re not yet certain what the answer will be. We’ve talked to our members, investigated what other countries are doing, and investigated what’s appropriate for contemporary Australia. It seems likely that some change is coming, and the key message has been to make sure our organisation is as inclusive as it can be.

Will the YPR change training?

Training is there to support the delivery of Scouting and more specifically the delivery of the youth program. If we change what’s in the youth program, then we need to change what we’re teaching in training! We’re not reviewing this yet as we’re still working on the youth program, but it’s definitely on the national radar for the future. The National Training Commissioner is thinking about this now, in readiness for what needs to change – it will be eLearning and it will be face-to-face!

Will the YPR get rid of major events?

Probably not, but they may look different in the future! Are they all working? Are they developmentally appropriate and helping us to fulfil our Aim of youth development? If other things change in the youth program, will major events have to change too? We don’t really know yet! We’ll have to think about major events when we get to thinking about what one program looks and feels like in each of the sections, but we’re not at that stage yet. We’ll definitely be talking to our membership when we are up to this stage, so keep yourself informed of our consultation opportunities if you’re interested.

“The YPR’s just copying Canada and Ireland!”

Canada and Ireland have both reviewed their programs in recent years, following the same WOSM (World Organization of the Scout Movement) document we are – the Renewed Approach to Program (RAP). This document lays out steps for how to review the program and some of the areas you need to think about it, but it doesn’t provide the answers – we need to decide what young people in contemporary Australia need and what will work for Scouts Australia. We’re looking to Canada and Ireland for inspiration and support on the journey ahead. If they have fantastic ideas that are the best thing for us too then there’s no point reinventing the wheel, but we’re also not going to just take their ideas and implement them straight away.

We’re doing research of our own, offering our members both the opportunity to suggest their own ideas and to provide feedback on Canada and Ireland’s, and thinking critically about how these ideas may work in Australia. We’re also looking at other countries for their great ideas too, including New Zealand and the UK. All of these countries have been doing different things to each other, so we couldn’t follow them all at once – we have to do our own thing sometimes too!

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” – Is the YPR removing all of Scouting’s traditions? Will the YPR get rid of the Jungle Book?

We think it’s important to review all aspects of the Scouting youth program and ensure that we’re keeping the best bits that still help us to fulfil our aim of developing young people. This may mean not keeping things simply because we’ve ‘always’ done them (which we often actually haven’t!). But that doesn’t mean we’re going to scrap everything that’s good about Scouting right now! We’re keen for everyone to have their say on what elements are still helping us and which ones need to be changed, so keep your eyes peeled on our communication channels for information about when we’re looking at the elements you’re passionate about.

It’s important to remember that just because we think we need to look at something, like the Jungle Book being mentioned in the Burning Issues report, doesn’t mean that we know what the answer will be. We may review it and decide it’s still the best tool for the job and helps us to deliver a quality youth program, in which case – great! There are likely to be elements that we’re currently doing that we realise aren’t the best fit for Scouting in modern Australia, but we don’t know which ones these will be yet – that’s why we’re reviewing them all!

As one of our focus group participants said, B-P changed and adapted Scouting a lot throughout his lifetime, it was only once he died that many of his approaches started to be considered as “unchangeable” for tradition’s sake. So we’re going to critically assess everything, even the traditions, but it doesn’t mean we’re definitely going to change them all.

“What research are you using?”

All kinds! We’re running consultations with our members, looking at academic research and have even commissioned some social research of our own. We’re also looking at best practice from WOSM (the World Organization of the Scout Movement) and other National Scout Organisations (NSOs), as well as learning from their mistakes and successes. If you know of any great research we should have a look at, we’d love to hear about it! Feel free to drop us a line.

“This is just a bunch of old men making decisions in a back room in Sydney!”

Actually, this review is the most intergenerational and open review we’ve done in years, maybe ever! Our coordinating team has 66% of its members under-30 (4 of the 6 members), and we’ve been aiming for every team we appoint to be led by someone under-30 – so far we’ve pretty much achieved that! A great deal of our people are also involved in different roles at the local level.

We’ve advertised positions to be on our research teams openly and widely and have been very excited to see how many great people have ‘come out of the woodwork’. We’re sharing our results as we get them, offering our members many opportunities to be involved in different ways through our consultation strategies at every stage of the review, and we’re keen for everyone to feel that they have had their opportunity to be involved. We’re also learning by doing, we’re not going to get every strategy right the first time and we’re constantly reviewing how we run this review and how we support our people. We’d love for you to be involved; you can find out how to be as involved as you’d like through the “Get Involved” tab of our website.

Nearly 100 people have been directly involved in some aspect of the review to date!

Nothing real will come of this, it’s pointless

There are a lot of people putting in a lot of work to make sure that doesn’t happen! We’re aiming to communicate our findings as we go along, to get feedback along the way of what we’re thinking, and to implement as many things as we can as soon as we can so it’s not drawn out. The new One Program will have to all come in as a whole, and we don’t yet know what that will look like or quite how long it will take us to be able to implement it, but there are many other changes we’ll be looking to implement as soon as we can.

The National Executive Committee, including all of the Branch Chief Commissioners, are on board and behind us along this journey, and they want to see that the important changes that are recommended from this process are implemented too. We’ll keep letting you know how we’re going, when you can provide feedback on what, and how we’re going with implementing changes. Rest assured, this review isn’t going to go away without an outcome!

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

Unfortunately, our research tells us that it is broke, or at least some of it. In 2012 we recruited 19,105 young people, but we lost 18,858! . In 1990, Australia had a population of 17 million people and there were 93,000 young people in Scouting; in 2014, Australia had a population of 23 million but Scouting only had 52, 000 youth members. Young people vote with their feet, and unfortunately it seems that many of them don’t want to vote for Scouting anymore.

Our research tells us that some of our biggest issues are that society has changed… but we haven’t…that we aren’t getting outdoors enough, that young people want to see the purpose behind what they’re doing, and many aren’t, that we’re very inconsistent in our delivery of Scouting, that Scouting is falling as an increasingly lower priority below school and/or other extra-curricular activities, and that ineffective Leaders were the second biggest reason for young people leaving the Movement.

We want to review what it is that we do (our youth program!) to try to arrest our membership decline and to ensure that we are delivering the best youth development program we can. We want to be good at what we do, so we need to review to make sure we are catering for today’s youth and their needs, and that we’re prepared for the future.

It looks a little broke, but with your help we can all work together to fix it!

What resources will be produced as part of the Review?

The Youth Program Review will provide resources for youth in each Section. For adult members, there will be one book that covers all Sections. An Aim of the YPR is to consolidate program practices so that all of our Sections work together, which will strengthen our organisation and provide a better Scouting experiences to the youth. Due to all the similarities between Sections, adult Leaders can all use the same handbook with a chapter dedicated to each Section’s symbolic framework. Additionally, resources to assist with programming and personal progression will be developed for Scouts.