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January 23, 2022

End of an era as Mullum Scouts fold

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Scout Leader Stephen Oliver with photos spanning 100 years. Photo Jeff Dawson.

For a hundred years, local kids have met at the Mullumbimby Scout Group to learn bush skills, care for the environment, and just generally horse around.

But these simple gatherings are now no more, with the group forced to fold owing to a lack of new leaders.

Stephen Oliver, a 30-year veteran of the Mullumbimby Scout movement, said COVID-19 had ‘put the crunch on local groups’ and the Scouts had been unable to recover.’

‘We virtually had to close down with COVID-19, and I think that’s been a big factor’, Mr Oliver said.

Kids are keen

‘The kids are still keen, but without leaders we can’t run it.’

Mr Oliver has been involved in the Mullum Scouts since the late 1980s, when the movement was thriving.

‘We had a strong youth movement for some years – Guides and the Air League. Then just Scouts from the mid ’90s’, he said.

‘A lot of Mullum people have come through over the years. It’s amazing walking around town and recognising people who’ve come through the movement, and hearing about what they’re doing in the community’.

The Mullum Scout movement was initiated in 1921 by a local vicar, with the first group reportedly meeting in the church hall.

However, since mid 1957, Scout and Guide Groups have met in the Scout Hall in Mullumbimby.

The building originally belonged to the Mullumbimby Bowling Club, and was relocated to its current location on the corner of River Terrace and Brunswick Terrace, to provide a permanent home for the Scout and Guides movements.

Since then, considerable effort and energy has been poured into renovating and maintaining the building, including projects to rebuild the ground floor and the kitchen.

Many long-term locals have volunteered their time and energy on these projects, as well as working as Scout Leaders.

So grateful to Stephen Oliver

‘We are so grateful to Stephen Oliver for the hours each week that he volunteered to support and teach our kids all manner of survival and bush skills’, said Rita Price, who has also been involved in the local Scout movement in a number of capacities.

‘And there is a long history of many families still living and working in Mullum that were also Scout Leaders and volunteers over the years.

‘There have also been generations of local families that have repaired and painted the hall, and participated in projects such as Clean Up Australia Day events, graffiti removal work and collaborated with loads of other community services.

‘It was a breed of locals that just got on with things’. 

Building up for lease

The building is now up for lease, with an Expression of Interest (EOI) process underway.

Among the community groups that have thrown their hats in the ring is Mullum Cares – the group which runs the Mullum Library of Stuff, among other projects.

The Library of Stuff, which provides a wide range of useful household and other items to locals for a minimal yearly subscription fee, has been using the space since October 2019.

Creative Mullumbimby has also applied to use the space.

A decision regarding the future tenant for the building will be made by the new members of Byron Council. 

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  1. For more a hundred years, local kids have met at the Mullumbimby Scout Group to learn bush skills, care for the environment, and to learn that cooperation gets things done. Scouting is about teamwork, working as a group and as they did this, they learned the pecking order of where they stood in the group and therefore in society
    To scout is to go out and test yourself and gain information and to bring that information back to the group. It was and is a social learning process to work in a group and also to work as an individual as each scout worked to gain badges of recognition. .At the head of the group was a leader and they learned that leaders led and everyone else followed. There are formal leaders and informal leaders. The formal leader is chosen and deligated to lead but informal leaders just lead without formality.
    So … no one has stood up to lead Mullumbimby Scout Group without being told to do that? Why not? The strength of character of a community is when certain sections or individuals want to lead without being deligated to do so.
    Stephen Oliver, lead the young troop to be responsible citizens or they will fall by the wayside.

    • Emily: My childhood and youth were spent in the cubs and scouts, and I can assure you that many of my scouting peers still managed to fall by the wayside – not to mention the many scout leaders who were, er, compromised.

      I think Mr Oliver has done his share of community service. Give him a break (and a pat on the back).

  2. Steve, you are a legend mate. I am so sorry to hear this news. Thank you for everything you have done for Scouting over such a long time. Thank you also for what you gave to me and Alyssa. Mullum is a better place for your efforts. Best wishes for your future.


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