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OPEN LETTER

The Australian Outdoor Industry calls for National attention and action

as we head into the most important

Federal election for the industry’s future


MAY 2022


Since COVID, Australians have had a wonder-filled re-engagement with their environments and are recognising the benefits the Outdoors provides - whether in recreation, education, tourism or physical or mental health activities. But the effects of COVID have impacted the sector greatly, as the workforce is 60% of what it was in 2019, while demand growth is now 130% of what it was in 2019.


The Outdoor Council of Australia makes up the state peak bodies and national partners in the Outdoor industry - they are calling on the government to recognise the contribution this industry makes to the economy, to the education of our youth, to communities across the country and to health and wellbeing of Australians. At 1% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product, an industry worth $20Billion, Federal issues must be recognised and policy makers must work in partnership with the industry for solutions. The sustainability of Australia’s outdoor industry contributes directly to the health and wellbeing of our communities.


National Challenges


The industry led the formulation of a standard and guidelines (the Australian Adventure Activity Standard and Good Practice Guides {AAAS}) that served to provide a tool to industry that ensured good practice in the industry. Led of its own accord, distributing through the industry, and educating on the adoption of the recommendations, State and Territory landowners and land/water managers are recognising the AAAS as essential tools for responsible and credible adventure leaders. Federal authorities must also recognise the value of the AAAS and commit funding to the outdoor industry to facilitate regular reviews and upgrades of these standards. This will deliver consistency across the nation, while increasing safety standards and allowing the industry to working in partnership with land/water owners and managers for sustainable outcomes.

As a mostly unregulated industry, market conditions across the world have not helped our industry in gaining suitable insurance for our needs. Increased support and recognition of the AAAS provides an opportunity to assist in gaining more support for the industry when it comes to gaining certainty with insurers.


Workforce attraction, acquisition, and retention of staff in the outdoors is at an all-time low as we come out of COVID. The Outdoor Industry is emerging in Australia, thus not largely understood in comparison to the nations that have a mature industry; United States of America, Spain, Argentina and even our small neighbour New Zealand has nearly as many graduates annually in Outdoor Leadership than we do in Australia. In 2019, our industry relied on up to 45% of its paid workforce coming from other countries as skilled workers on temporary or working visas. As borders shut our industry lost approximately half of its paid workforce. As we are emerging from COVID, the demand for outdoor activities has never been bigger. The importance of mental health and resilience has been realised, the importance of nature is more understood in the many ways nature provides solutions to these challenges, and the desire of Australian communities for more outdoor experiences and adventures has grown since we emerged from lockdowns.

Outdoor industry training and qualifications are not widely available in Australia because registered training organisations (including TAFEs) and universities have wound back investment. Quality outdoor trainin