Scouts NT

Scouting for Youth with Special Needs 

Scouting provides a broad range of adventurous and challenging opportunities for young people. The Scout program is adapted to meet the needs of individuals to enable them to participate and achieve. It enables young people to be accepted and to develop in a safe environment, under the guidance of volunteer leaders. 
For these reasons Scouting is popular for many young people with special needs. Where possible, we support the integration of young people (aged between 6-26 years) with special needs into regular Scout Groups. Reasonable accommodations to the Scouting program will be employed within the capacity of available volunteer youth leaders and existing building facilities. 

Parent responsibilities 

  • It's important for the parents of a child with special needs to communicate openly with the Leader and to encourage their child to be involved as much as possible in the Scouting program
  • Parents may be requested to provide additional assistance when required 
  • Our leaders are all volunteers: they need your support in order to make Scouting fun for all young people in the youth section. 

Joining a Scout Group 

Before attending a youth section at a Scout Group, parents should arrange to meet with the Group Leader and Section Leader. This provides time to discuss the child’s needs and any medical issues. Leaders who have youth with a special need in their youth section will prepare their programs, to include suitable activities and games. It may be necessary to modify some activities to include youth with special needs but there may also be some times when the youth with the special need has to withdraw from an activity or game. In some games the special needs youth can participate in a role such as a time keeper or referee. 
Please note, however, that: 
  • Scouting cannot cater for all situations. In some cases a request to join may be denied 
  • Not all Leaders are confident to look after a youth with a special need 
  • Not all Scout Groups or youth sections have sufficient Leaders to provide additional attention to a youth with a special need 
  • Not all Scout Halls have suitable facilities to cater for specific special needs 

Specialised Groups 

An alternative to the integration of a youth with special needs into a Scout Group is participation in a specialised Scout Group or Youth section. For example: a Scout Group or Youth Section dedicated to youth who are deaf or blind or wheelchair based. There are currently no Specialised Scout Groups or Youth Sections within the Northern Territory. 

Award Scheme for Youth Members with Special Needs 

The expectation of Scouting is that all youth members participate in the scout program, do their best and extend themselves. 
  • All youth members can aspire to the top award in each section. 
  • Within the structure of the current award scheme there is flexibility to enable all youth members to be challenged, to demonstrate their achievements of new skills and to gain the top award. 
  • Adaptations and accommodations may be required to enable youth with special needs to progress through the award scheme. 
  • The youth with special needs must complete as many of the regular requirements of the award scheme as his/her ability, condition and circumstances permits. Any alternative must continue to be challenging of effort and aligned to the intent of the award scheme. 
  • It is important that the youth member (where relevant) and the section leader identify any obstacles that would prevent the youth from attaining any aspect of the award scheme. 
  • Accommodations and adaptations that could address these obstacles should be developed and resolved. 
  • Where accommodations and adaptations are required for youth with special needs who are attempting the top award in their section, it is important the relevant sectional Branch Commissioner and Branch Commissioner Special Needs approve such changes. These should be documented prior to the youth member commencing that level and copies of the approved plan provided to the Group Leader and other relevant personnel. 

More Information 

Contact - Scouts NT Headquarters on 8948 0994 or bc.sn@nthq.scouts.com.au about Scouting with Youth with Special Needs.