Helen Gear, Chief Commissioner of Girl Guides Australia announced that the World Association for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) has ratified the Promise and Law for Guiding in Australia.
WAGGGS has previously supported Australia and other countries to explore their Promise and Law to ensure it remains relevant to the girls and members of today. Guiding promotes diversity and equality. It encourages all girls and young women to be their best and to reach their potential, whatever their ability or background.
The Promise and Law was last tweaked in the 1980s, and last changed in 1969. Over a 12 month period, thousands of members contributed to the Promise and Law Review process. Our members asked for the wording to be updated to be relevant and meaningful to all girls and young women who make up the Australian community.
The result is a Promise and Law that reflects our community and the fundamental values of Guiding. The values and fundamental principles on which the Promise and Law are based have not changed. What has changed is the language used to ensure the words of the Promise and Law are meaningful and relevant to girls and women in 21st century Australia.
State Commissioner for Girl Guides Victoria
Published in the Herald Sun on July 06, 2012
I WAS seven in the 1950s when I started my Guiding as a Brownie. On one night a week from then on as I grew, I joined my other Guiding friends for fun and friendship.
I carried pennies for a phone call in my pouch so I was always “prepared” and we went camping and hiking, and enjoyed good times together.
We went to the old people’s home where we sang Christmas carols and we did “service” at the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind accommodation where we wrote letters for the children, and we marched down the street on Anzac Day and poured tea for the Diggers after.
In retrospect, I learnt through the games and the many other wonderful experiences I was offered, about the need to share; I learnt about community and commitment.
I learnt that you had to work hard sometimes to achieve your goals and I was always supported by wonderful leaders in all my efforts. I developed resilience and independence.
Guiding gave me the opportunity to develop leadership skills. Subtly at first, but as I grew older and understood the responsibilities of leadership, I was elected by my peers into more senior positions within the unit initially, then the district and now I lead the state.
I have had the opportunity to travel to some of the 145 countries that belong to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and have made friendships that cross state and cultural borders.
So although some things change, some remain the same. The fundamentals of guiding remain. Some meet regularly in a hall while others meet on Skype. They are challenged today far more, to look and consider their role in depth in their local, national and international communities. Australian Guides have the opportunity to attend United Nations conferences on the environment and speak up on violence against women.
They still play fun games with a purpose. They still make lots of friends and are imbued with the “recipe for life”, which Guiding provided me. But the games are played on laptops or iPads or iPhone apps.
But to ensure our program remains relevant to girls in our changing world, where our country has become significantly more multicultural than it was when I was a girl, we must ensure that the way we express our values rings true to the girls and young women, as well as our dedicated volunteers.
It is for this reason we have changed the way our values are expressed in our promise and law.
When I had my four pennies in my pouch to make a phone call in a telephone box, I would never have dreamt about the concept of having a phone in my handbag on which I could play games, communicate instantly with others without talking to them, and photograph activities as well as keep a diary.
I am still “prepared” in that I carry the phone and ensure it is charged, but it is preparedness in a modern context.
So it is with our latest change. I made my promise as a seven-year-old and I had an understanding of what it meant at seven.
As I have grown and as I have remade my promise over the years, it has had a quite different meaning to me. It, along with the Guide law, have been the values on which I have built my life.
This week we announced a change to the words of the promise and law to ensure they remain relevant to the girls and young women whom we wish to attract to Guiding today. It loses nothing of the fundamentals on which the previous promise was based, it merely states them in words that will have greater relevance to today’s youth.
It still acknowledges a search for spiritual meaning and the development of spiritual values, but it will be inclusive in our modern, more multicultural society.
Our commitment to the Queen still lives on in many ways, whether it is local, national or global as Australians.