Girls being priced out of Guides

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Girl Guiding New Zealand is defending fees increases that a former Oamaru guide says will make the programme unaffordable for some North Otago families.
The increases have come about as the organisation looks to change the way it operates to make sure it is sustainable in the future.
The national organisation claims it is “revitalising” its offer to girls to ensure it is able to fulfil its goal of developing self-esteem, confidence and leadership.
Changes include a simplified structure so girls can express their wishes at local and national level, a panel of rangers to speak out on behalf of all girls, and a centralised business and administration arm to reduce volunteer time spent on administration and financial management.
The changes have meant fees for girls in Oamaru have jumped from $45 a term ($180 a year) to $75 a term ($300 a year).
Former Oamaru Guide Club leader Jennifer Bennett, who has one child in Girl Guides and another in Brownies, believed a lot of families in North Otago would not be able to afford the fee increase.
“For me, I was really annoyed because Girl Guides has always been for all walks of life. I find it’s going to be an elite club; it’s for the rich now.
“For an organisation that is supposed to help others … it just doesn’t make sense to me. There are a lot of people in Oamaru that went through Girl Guides. I’ve talked to a number of people in Oamaru about it and they just can’t believe it.”Girl Guiding New Zealand chief executive Susan Coleman said the increase was necessary to ensure the future of the organisation.
“In some instances, the fees for girls have increased and in others, they have decreased,’ Ms Coleman said.
“Preparing for centralisation meant that we looked at what it actually costs to provide the programme to girls. It’s evident that the $75 fee is reflective of actual costs. The fees were averaged out across the whole of New Zealand and after consultation the fee was set.”The fee covered costs for resources and activities to run the programme each week, badges, sashes and guide books, and costs associated with providing unit meeting places.
It did not include costs for organisational overheads, such as leader costs, programme development, leadership development, staffing or governance.
Parents and caregivers are not asked for additional payments except for camps and events run outside unit time where fundraising does not take place.
Leaders were supplied with uniforms and training, while discounted fees for leader’s daughters had been scrapped, Ms Coleman said.
Last year, 30 girls attended Girl Guide programmes in Oamaru.
That number had dropped by 66%, which Mrs Bennett was “very concerned” about.
However, Ms Coleman had no concerns for the future of the organisation in North Otago.
“Our people on the ground in Oamaru have advised that 10 girls have or will be returning. Guiding will go ahead with this number of girls. However, long-term membership will be revisited in terms of sustainability.
“The changes that have been made are to ensure long-term sustainability of the organisation and indications are that in many smaller areas, membership is not affected.”