Herald Sun - - NEWS - ALEX WHITE

WOMEN are putting on their boots and get­ting into the great out­doors with a new bushwalking group.

Mel­bourne Girls Out­side founder Ta­mara Hutchins, 29, says more women are look­ing to gain na­ture skills and are hit­ting the tracks across Vic­to­ria. Launched last month, mem­ber­ship has al­ready surged past 350.

“Our group formed be­cause we saw a gap in so­ci­ety for girls look­ing to get ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said. “If vol­un­teer groups like ours didn’t ex­ist, many (women) may not get out­side be­cause they don’t feel com­fort­able on the track by them­selves.”

She called on the state gov­ern­ment to pro­tect small vol­un­teer groups af­ter changes to the Aus­tralian Ad­ven­ture Ac­tiv­ity Stan­dards raised con­cerns vol­un­teer groups could face red tape in the fu­ture.

The changes are de­signed for com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors and are vol­un­tary for non­profit groups — but Ms Hutchins warned any fu­ture changes should not af­fect small groups.

“Cur­rently, we are able to ex­ist be­cause we don’t charge our mem­bers fees for things like public li­a­bil­ity,” she said.

Sports Min­is­ter John Eren said the vol­un­tary guide­lines were to en­sure that “peo­ple are pre­pared and have the right safe­guards in place to en­joy them­selves”.

Pic­ture: TONY GOUGH

Ta­mara Hutchins, Leesa Maree Smith, Nik Ger­schwitz, El­iza Sum and Emily Rayner.

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