Australia's New Scouting Award Scheme - an overview

As all groups are moving across to the new award scheme, there have been many questions asked, and many poeple worried about how it works. This page is a loose outline to show that it all does make sense and will be good for scouting in Australia once understood and implemented.

The new Scouting award system journey is designed to be a continuous flow across all the sections, focusing on an individual's personal progression throughout the movement. While new experiences are a focus, the one program model makes sure it's all familiar. Each section uses the Patrol system, the language is the same, and the Achievement Pathways have common features.

The Outdoor Adventure Skills

The Challenge Areas are:

outdoors creative personal growth community
Some ideas are:
  • Environment
  • Camping
  • Time in nature
  • Water activities
  • Adventurous activities
  • Journeys
  • Expression
  • Arts
  • Making
  • Creating
  • Inventing
  • Designing
  • Planning
  • Leadership
  • Beliefs & Values
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Growth
  • Interests
  • Skills
  • Engagement
  • Involvement
  • Getting out into the community
  • Projects
  • Partnerships
  • Visits
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Environment

There are 3 Milestones in each section of the program. Of course, if a Scout starts part-way through the section age-range, they're not necessarily expected to start at Milestone 1. For details of these, refer to the OAS Handbook, available from Scouts Australia.

Outdoor Adventure Skills

The Outdoor Adventure Skills are structured under a true one program approach - the stages span the whole program. The OAS are encouraged for all sections and all youth members. There are no age restrictions on achievement, except where required by Australian Legal frameworks or Outdoor Industry developed Australian Adventure Standards. For example, some of the outdoor areas (eg Bushwalking -see below) include having achieved official 1st Aid qualification, which has a minimum age requirement.

These are considered the CORE scouting Skills -
  • Campcraft - campcraft, Standing/base camping
  • Bushcraft - scoutcraft, Pioneering and Survival
  • Bushwalking - bushwalking, navigation, lightweight camping

In addition there are several specialist areas -

  • Aquatic - Lifesaving, rescue, snorkelling, SCUBA, surfing
  • Alpine - Cross country sking, snow shoeing, snow camping
  • Cycling - cycle touring, mountain biking
  • Paddling - canoeing, kayaking, rafting
  • Boating - sailing, rowing
  • Vertical - abseiling, caving, canyoning, climbing

Each OAS is split into 9 stages, with each stage involving a series of competencies. The earliest stages involve basic skill development and are designed to be achievable for the younger age groups. By the later stages of each OAS area, Scouts will be considered very advanced in that area.
As progression through the OAS is quite individual, Scouts will probably be developing at a range of different OAS stages at the same time.


Stages 5 - 9 in most of the skill areas have been developed to link into relevant Units of competency in the Vocational Education Training packages (VET). Simple mapping is still required to gain a formal qualification, and Scouts should seek advice and guidance around keeping record and evidence of their experience and abilities. It is probably worthwhile for even Joeys to get in the habit of keeping a log (digital versions are available, or simply keep a spreadsheet loogbook) for every hike/camp/canoe-day etc, which can be expanded to cover additional skills as they progress through the sections.

Progression in the Outdoor Adventure Skills can go towards the achievement of the Peak Award for that scouting section.

Special Interest Areas (SIAs)

There are six Special Interest Areas, which are designed to be adapted to the different skill levels of each individual. The areas are the same for each age section, but one completed by a Scout from one age section will normally involve different challenges than one from another.
It's important that Scouts are challenged and progress to a reasonable level based on their capabilities.

The SIA's are -

  • Adventure & Sport
  • Arts & Literature
  • Creating a better world
  • Environment
  • Growth & development
  • Stem & innovation

As a sample of the I... statements, this is a rough copy of the Stage 5 Intermediate Bushwalking OAS, which would usually be able to be achieved in the scout section, since it includes achieving a 1st Aid qualification which can generally only be done from the age of 14.

  • I know how to identify food and water requirements for multi-day bushwalks.
  • I know how to purify water for drinking
  • I can assist Stage 3 Scouts to select appropriate footwear for various bushwalks.
  • I can minimise damage to the environment while bushwalking.
  • I can (with support ) develop a risk management plan for a two-night bushwalking
  • I can identify possible hazards associated with bushwalking and procedures and can minimise these risks.
  • I can plan an overnight or weekend bushwalk using a topographical map and understand Naismith's rule
  • I can properly select appropriate clothing required for bushwalking
  • I have appropriately briefed all relevant people about our journey
  • I have successfully completed a Provide First Aid course (including CPR).
  • I can find directions without a compass.
  • I can use a map and compass to find my position.
  • I can be an active member of my team while bushwalking.
  • I can bushwalk rough terrain safely.
  • I can look after group safety and morale on a bushwalk
  • I can use a minimum of three communication devices
  • I have taken part in and logged two bushwalking activities at this stage, at least one of which is a two-night bushwalk that I have led without Leaders attending.
  • I have given a presentation to our Sectional Council on the journey that I have led
  • I can reflect on the journey that I led and what I learnt about myself in the experience
  • My logbook is up to date at the end of this stage.

Programming should include activities and events that regularly allow the following aspects of development of scouting members-

These are referred to as the "SPICES" (based on the forst letter of each item). Assessing individual SPICES progress is done using the I... statements, as per the sample list above.

For the leaders in each of the younger sections, there is a chunk of mapping to be done to work out what their scouting members have achieved in the "old" award system, in order to be sure of where they already fit into the new award system. I am advised that mapping tools are available to simplify this process. In the older age groups, the scoutsing members should be able to complete the process themselves, although I am sure leaders will want to check - to make sure they have not missed acheived skills (or misread some).

© 2020 Ian Moggs, all rights reserved.

Last updated 8th May 2021.

Email me anytime - i2 @ robian .net (without the spaces).