Fire and Ice: reframing the narrative for effective leadership

Lily Brown1
1Parks Victoria


Current global leadership is failing to address our climate emergency, so what if we changed the narrative? With nearly 10 years’ experience as a forest fire fighter in Victoria, I’ve seen firsthand the impact of climate change on our National Parks. As a woman in fire, I’ve seen the positive impact women can make in a team and in leadership. Our planet is in crisis, we need everyone to work together to address the climate challenges we all face as a community, but often women’s voices are missing from leadership. I have just returned from the largest all-women expedition to Antarctica by 100 women in science from 33 countries. As part of the Homeward Bound program I learned about a new type of leadership, one that is collaborative, inclusive, legacy-minded, and trustworthy. It is vital that we work towards more proactive and inclusive leadership to help address our climate emergency.

Lily is a Community Engagement Ranger and Forest Firefighter with Parks Victoria. After training as a science teacher, she moved to a remote community in the NT and observed firsthand the benefits of learning in nature. Lily’s current role combines her passion in conservation education, and fire and emergency response. She is also passionate about climate action, and was trained by Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader in 2019. Lily’s ongoing pursuit to inspire change sees her participating in Homeward Bound, a global training program for women in STEMM, to help her become a more courageous, authentic leader, and to help lead us into a sustainable future.

The role of academic identity and the creation of outdoor fieldwork curriculum: A discussion of the initial findings from a cross-discipline research project

Mr Brendon Munge1, Dr Glyn Thomas1, Associate Professor Debbie Heck1
1University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Australia


Outdoor fieldwork (OFW) is considered a fundamental pedagogical method for connecting theory and practise amongst many disciplines including outdoor education, the geosciences, archaeology and environmental education. However, within universities, the choice to utilise OFW has come under pressure. These pressures include the reduction in funding for OFW activities; questions about the validity of educational outcomes; implications for the inclusion of non-traditional students; and academics’ ability to undertake OFW activities while also meeting their other obligations. However, OFW persists, for instance: academics continue to support and facilitate OFW; undergraduate courses still include a variety of OFW activities; employers seek evidence of OFW proficiency when employing graduates; disciplines recommend the use of OFW within degrees, and universities still promote their institutions and degrees via the OFW offered. How academics create, maintain, and facilitate an OFW curriculum within these constrains has had little attention thus far within the academic literature.

This presentation will discuss the role of individual academic identities and how they shape the creation of an OFW curriculum. The presentation will initially focus on the concepts of academic identity and how academic identities are developed and maintained at an individual, disciplinary and institutional level. The presentation will then focus on the initial findings from interviews with academics from across a range of disciplines that utilise OFW within their undergraduate programs. Key aspects of this discussion will be how the individual, discipline, and institutional environments enable or constrains the development of OFW curriculum.

This presentation will be beneficial for academics, teachers and disciplinary leaders as it will aid in understanding the different levels of constraints and opportunities that have implications for the creation of an OFW curriculum.

Brendon Munge is an associate lecturer in Outdoor and Environmental Studies in the School of Education at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. His teaching focuses on providing the foundational practical and theoretical experiences for new outdoor educators as they prepare to work in the profession. He is a current PhD candidate with a focus on outdoor fieldwork pedagogy in higher education.

Gender Inclusive Leadership in University Outdoor Education; It’s Not Just Women’s Business

Ms Rylie Charles1, Professor Tonia Gray1, Dr. Son Truong1
1Western Sydney University , Sydney, Australia


Progress for gender equality within Outdoor Education (OE) is currently growing. However, the current landscape reveals efforts to implement egalitarian approaches and practices have only been partially attained (Gray, 2018). To address this issue, I embarked on a masters research project to increase awareness of gender inclusive leadership to improve the implementation of these approaches with those who deliver OE university courses. Despite the surrounding literature, studies focusing specifically on the influence of the application of gender inclusive strategies are noticeably absent.

This presentation intends to inspire discussion and action regarding gender inclusive leadership to assist delegates to engage in their own reflexive practice to undertake this critical work. Details surrounding the interpretative methods of journaling and content analysis will be explored. These methods seek understanding of lived experiences and the theoretical perspective is supported by a critical education lens incorporating feminist, post-structural and neo-Marxist (intersectional) notions (Lather, 1991). The concept of the Rhizome (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) will be weaved throughout the presentation and will be explored as to how it has been applied as a theoretical framework to map the multiple influences and aspects of this project.

This research acts as a platform for gender inclusive leadership to be revisited to continue adaptation to ensure OE continues to address inequalities. New perspectives to the existing literature are explored and provides further expansion and refinement for recommendations for future practice.

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). Introduction: Rhizome A Thousand Plateaus; Capitalism and Schizophrenia (pp. 3-25). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Gray, T. (2018). Thirty Years on, and Has the Gendered Landscape Changed in Outdoor Learning. In The Palgrave international handbook of women and outdoor learning (pp. 35-53). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Lather, P. (1991). Getting smart: Feminist research and pedagogy within/in the postmodern. New York, NY: Routledge

Rylie Charles is an Outdoor Education graduate from the Australian Catholic University and is currently studying a Master of Philosophy (Education) at Western Sydney University. Her research topic focuses on gender inclusive leadership in higher degree Outdoor Education. She also works as a freelance outdoor leader and loves to share her experiences in the outdoors with others.

Underrepresented Representatives – diverse truths for an inclusive future

Ms Pei Ting Tham1
1Freelance, Alexandra, Australia


PT will be celebrating her 10th year anniversary as an outdoor educator, with 7 of those years spent in Australia. Even though the outdoor industry is generally a positive and egalitarian one, she still encountered various challenges in her career as a non-white, foreign born, female. She will attempt to dissect some of these experiences through the lenses of race, culture, gender and intersectionality. PT hopes to share insights that will be relevant for both field operators and employers in order to navigate an Australia that is undergoing rapid social and demographic changes.


PT is a Chinese Malaysian who grew up in Kuala Lumpur. She came to Australia in 2009 to complete a Cert IV in Outdoor Recreation. She has since worked for various organisations in Australia, Hong Kong, USA and Malaysia. She also holds a Bachelor of Psychology. She has spent most of her time leading or coordinating programs, but she is most passionate about teaching and training new outdoor leaders.

Am I “ready to learn”?: Integrating Outdoor Education with School wide Learning models to improve outcomes and better communicate the value of experiential learning opportunities amidst old fashion views of Outdoor activities.

Mr David Gemmell1, Mr Nathan O’Malley1
1Brighton Grammar School, Brighton, Australia


The purpose of a learning model is to align many of the processes at the school. The Brighton Grammar School (BGS)- Effective Learner Model (ELM) includes the principles required to help boys become good learners and good men. It is a product of the Evidence Informed Decision Making process and includes work from Jim Knight, John Hattie and input from our school community. The model is also supported by a culture of instructional coaching and strong community links.

As a non-teaching department we are often challenged to justify our existence in a community that does not immediately recognise alternative educational approaches, especially given our significant draw on financial and academic time resources. At Brighton Grammar School, we have increased the profile and regard of Outdoor Education quickly by complimenting and championing the learning and well being initiatives that grow from the Effective Learner Model and extending the school culture into the great outdoors.

If students can demonstrate proficiency in all the areas of the effective learner model, they can take these skills beyond the school into their future endeavours. The model covers four areas of learning and the PROSPER model for well being. The beauty of the model is that it is highly adaptable into the various curriculum situations.

1. Learning architecture: “I know where I am, where I am going and what my next steps are”
2. Learning processes: “I know how to learn”
3. Learning dispositions “I am ready to learn”
4. Feedback “I seek, act upon and give feedback”

This will be a fast paced presentation around the foundation research that forms the ELM and offers up some lessons (positive and negative) from our experiences over the past three years for you to take away and smoosh into your own learning contexts. Are YOU ready to learn?

Nathan is a systems guy and enjoys finding better ways to do things. Nathan spent over a decade freelancing around the country before finding opportunities to move into program coordinating with The Outdoor Education Group and then moving to Brighton Grammar School as deputy head of department. During his time with these organisations he has worked hard to improve the regard of Outdoor Education in the school communities and put his energy into creating clear systems and processes to allow for greater focus on the student’s experience. Nathan is a qualified secondary teacher and this drives his passion for rigorous outcomes in outdoor programming and he believes wholeheartedly in the benefits of experiential learning and student centered program design.

David is currently the Head of Outdoor Education at Brighton Grammar School in Victoria. He has worked in the outdoor industry around the world, within K-12 and tertiary education plus not-for-profit and commercial sectors since 2001. Passionate about all water based activities it is both a joy and a terror waiting to see how his students respond to paddling adventures. One of his biggest challenges is convincing his toddlers that the woods ‘won’t eat them’!

Psychosocial risks managed with UPLOADS PriME

Mr Graham Pringle1, Dr Scott McLean2, Ms Andrea Newton3, Professor Paul Salmon2, Dr Clare Dallat4
1Youth Flourish Outdoors, , Australia; 2University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Australia; 3Stanley River Environmental Education Centre, Kilcoy, Australia; 4The Outdoor Education Group, Australia


Psychosocial incidents in led outdoor activities (LOA) are reported to the UPLOADS incident reporting and learning tool. At present there is only small number of ‘psychosocial’ incidents recorded which may indicate under-reporting. There may be a lack of clarity about what constitutes psychological and emotional risks. Complex Trauma is recognised as the driver of psychosocial concerns in many states. Education Queensland schools have been directed to find ways to engage students whom were previously suspended and expelled. This requires a change in how we understand and deal with behaviour. Outdoor education can be stressful, yet it is a significant aspect of the learning experience. How do we cater for the well-being of young people while maintaining our values and processes?

In this workshop, Graham Pringle (Youth Flourish Outdoors) will provide a model for this process of change. Andrea Newton (Stanley River EEC) will demonstrate a trauma model pedagogy and speak to the impact this has had on program delivery. Clare Dallat (OEG) will illustrate how that organisation has recognised psychosocial incidents and what impact that has had on program design and administrative burden. Scott McLean and Paul Salmon (UPLOADS research project) will demonstrate the latest phase of UPLOADS, a process called UPLOADS PriME which enables organisations to develop their own interventions identified within their own UPLOADS data.

Graham, Andrea, and Clare will present a review of their experience and knowledge, and the UPLOADS research team will present an overview of PriME. Participants will then work through a case study, in different outdoor education scenarios, using PriME to understand how to develop interventions to cater for complex students. Groups will report their insights back to the group. This workshop will help centres and programs to understand how they can enable complex students to benefit from ‘going to camp’.

Graham Pringle is the Program Director of Youth Flourish Outdoors, a youth mental health charity and is a PhD Candidate at Griffith University..

Scott McLean is the leader for the Sport and Outdoor Recreation them at the Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems at USC

Paul Salmon founded the Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems at USC and holds an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship

Andrea Newton is a Teacher and Acting Principal of an Education Queensland Environmental Education Centre.

Claire Dallat is an Executive Director with OEG specialising in risk management and recieved the international Reb Gregg Wilderness Risk Management Award for 2018

Maniapure Community Camp – A short history of community development in the Amazon

Dr Simon Sambrano1
1Iguanas Outdoor Education, Caracas, Venezuela; 2Maniapure Foundation (Fundacion Proyecto Maniapure), Caracas, Venezuela; 3Asociacion de Damas Salesianas, Caracas, Venezuela


The Maniapure Community Camp is a program for underprivileged and Indigenous communities in southern Venezuela, right where the Amazon jungle begins. In this rural region youth faces high risks given the presence of illegal miners, drug traffickers and guerrilla fighters (illegal paramilitary forces) who quarrel for close to free and subjugated hand labor.

The program strives to keep children and young adults in the school (through a series of endeavours), offer medical and dental services and provide experiential learning through activities and sports. Year round and specially in the summer a safe environment where children can grow and learn from adult role models is offered, while guaranteeing meals and transportation.

During this presentatiion, the program and its successes and failures, as well as the 2021-2023 plan will be discussed. The aim is to offer some guidelines/better practices for proffesionals and NGOs that are undertaking similar programs with indigenous communities or facing similiar conditions whitin their programs

I’ve been involved in camps and Outdoor Education for over 35 years, as a camper, CIT, counselor, coordinator, program director, director and owner. In addition to my job as Iguanas Outdoor Education Director/Owner, I’m an Organizational Leadership Consultant/Trainer, as well as an International Camping Fellowship ICDC Lead Trainer and a former member of the Venezuelan Camp Association Board of Directors. I’ve developed and ran camps and outdoor education programs in 5 countries in 4 different continents. Since 2008 I’ve worked together with +50 different Camps and Outdoor Education organizations around the world. Last summer (2019), I collaborated with Reset Summer Camp in Santa Barbara California – USA. I’m a Medical Dr. (General Surgeon) and I hold a Master in Organisational Leadership from Monash University Au.

Moving Beyond the Talkfest: Advocating for Equity and Diversity in Outdoor Learning

Tom Potter1, Hoya Lynne Thomas4, Son Truong2, Teresa Socha1, Glyn Thomas3, Tonia Gray4
1Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Canada; 2Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada; 3University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Australia; 4Western Sydney University, Penrith, Australia


Outdoor educators generally pride themselves on challenge. This workshop unlocks a unique opportunity for us to challenge ourselves to move beyond talkfests, and together, develop individual and collective steps to advance equity and diversity in outdoor learning. While important research and initiatives in equity and diversity have informed the field, we have reached a point where unified action is essential. Based on this premise, we need to step outside our comfort zones and work together for real and lasting change in the outdoor profession. But, to accomplish this we need you.
Bringing together outdoor professionals with diverse perspectives, experiences and practices, we seek to facilitate an action-oriented process by creating a space for all voices to be heard. We aim to ask the profession to turn the microscope on itself and engage in a process of self-reflective practice to help effect change for equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in outdoor education and learning. More importantly, we invite participants to share experiences, questions, and difficulties or successes – no matter how new or experienced you may be to discussions of EDI in outdoor learning – to join this conversation towards action. We seek to unpack the Aussie “Fair–go” aspiration and ask: Is it reality or mythology? Can it help us to find real transformative change?
While the workshop presenters have varied professional journeys and diverse viewpoints, we recognize that positive change is about mobilizing knowledge and being allies. By sharing our pivotal encounters we will explore our ongoing awakening to equity and diversity issues. Finally, through our collaborative efforts we will examine some successful strategies underway to advance our profession to a renewed level of reflection and action for equity and diversity. Redressing inequities and working together as a cohesive group will activate organisational and cultural change in the outdoor sector.

Tom teaches in the School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism at Lakehead University where he shares much time in the field with students. His teaching and research interests blend to include the pedagogy of outdoor education, outdoor leadership, risk management, social justice, transportation safety and nature-based therapy.
Lynne is a proud Aboriginal woman from Wallaga Lake Yuin (Black Duck, Umbarra), Taree Biripi (White Pointer Shark) as well as Nagarigo Monaro Highlands (Maneroo, Black Cockatoo). Braidwood. Lynne’s rich culture from all grandparents and ancestries include South American (The Andes, South America), Chinese and French (Braidwood area), Irish and Full blood Aboriginal trackers of the highlands.
Son teaches in the Community Wellbeing and Therapeutic Recreation at Dalhousie University. He has extensive experience working with young people in educational settings, therapeutic programming, and outdoor learning. His interdisciplinary research focuses on children’s play and environments, and recreation to enhance wellbeing in vulnerable communities.
Teresa is recently retired from the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University where she served as the Undergraduate Chair for seven years. Informed by feminist and sociocultural theories and anti-oppression education, Teresa’s research and teaching interests include health and physical education teacher education, fat studies, gender issues, and initial teacher education.
Glyn teaches in the Bachelor of Recreation and Outdoor Environmental Studies program at the University of the Sunshine Coast. His research interests focus on teaching and learning in outdoor environmental education. In the outdoors, he enjoys seeing and learning more about birds.
Tonia’s transdisciplinary research explores human-nature relationships and its impact on health and wellbeing. She is co-editor-in-chief of JOEE, and chair of the Australian Tertiary Outdoor Education Network. In 2019, Tonia journeyed to Antarctica with the Homeward Bound Project to elevate Women and Climate Action and was also the Association of Experiential Education’s Distinguished Researcher of the Year.

Uncertainty in Outdoor Education

Mr Peter Smith1
1University of Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs , Australia; 2University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia; 3Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Perth, Australia; 4Coefficient Pty Ltd, Brisbane, Australia


Preston B Cline (2007) states
‘We know why outdoor education is critical, because the experiences that we offer allow students to interact with uncertainty that few other methodologies allow.’ p 7

Cline’s observation is further supported by evidence gathered while teaching outdoor education, programs which have elements of uncertainty built into curriculum tend to be successful. Students learn through not knowing outcomes, therefore developing skills of problem solving, resilience and divergent thinking to name but a few.

This interactive workshop will involve a conversation around using the element of uncertainty to enhance student learning in the outdoors.

A few discussion talking points
1 Uncertainty in Outdoor Learning – Definition, measurement?
2 Strategies for enabling future generations to manage change and uncertainty
3 Risk Management
4 Adventure

Obviously, risk management is paramount in OE programming and there is no part of me that wishes it compromised, But I firmly believe that to implement factors of unpredictability, chance and uncertainty into our teaching objectives is beneficial for outdoor education as a collective.

Come by to be part of this lively debate about the future direction of OE pedagogy.

Reference List
Cline, P (2007) Learning to Interact with Uncertainty Inaugural Outdoor Education Australia Risk Management Conference, Ballarat Victoria 20 September 2007

Peter has been facilitating outdoor learning for a diverse range of learners for 3 decades. Currently he can be found inspiring students at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Paddle Queensland and The Outdoor Education Consultants. This work is balanced with doctoral studies at University of Western Sydney, where he is interesting in the pedagogy of outdoor education. Pete believes that OE needs to be taught more widely and more often, because the unique pedagogy leads to monumental changes in peoples lives. It is more that mere education it is a societal change agent, leading to integrated and diverse communities.

A passionate telemark skier, paddler and #twitter poet Pete is happiest when undertaking a journey outdoors.

Is Bush Adventure Therapy just glorified Outdoor Education?

Dr Anita Pryor1
1Adventure Works Australia, Hobart , Australia


This presentation points to the roots and influences of two fields of endeavour through the personal tales of people who have straddled both.

But are they two fields, or the same thing? Are Outdoor Education and Bush Adventure Therapy more similar than different? Is one just a medicalised version of the other? Is one just claiming to work with higher needs target groups, or claim special status?

Through the eyes of educators and practitioners, and a sharing of cross-disciplinary frameworks, practices and research, attendees will be invited to look at similarities, differences and synergies between these two approaches.

The way these two fields are the “same same but different” offers unique opportunities for learning and growth. This presentation will carve out time to explore ways that these two siblings can grow together and compliment each other’s efforts.

Anita Pryor trained in Outdoor Education at LaTrobe University, Bendigo (1990-1992) and worked as an outdoor educator and adventure guide in Victoria, NSW and Austria. Observing first hand the importance of early exposure to outdoor education, she conducted an Honours research project on the effects of Mittagundi Outdoor Education Centre (1995-1996) and began working with at-risk groups. Her time working at The Outdoor Experience, a bush-based drug treatment program for young people, led her from roles of outdoor educator to outdoor practitioner, manager, then researcher. During this time, Anita trained in mental health, solution focused therapy, narrative therapy and family therapy, and worked hard to form a BAT network of outdoor practitioners working therapeutically (1997-2004). Noticing the need for research evidence to support funding submissions, Anita undertook a PhD in Public Health (2005-2009). Since then, Anita has worked in policy, research and training. She currently supports BAT in Australia as co-director of Adventure Works Australia and co-leader of a newly-formed policy unit of the Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy.


About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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