Regional Victorians’ appeal to Health Minister calling for consultation on recreational hunting

Media Release

Regional Victorians have written to the Federal Health Minister calling for a robust and independent consultation of the impacts of recreational hunting on the public.

Regarding the recent Federal Dept of Health Report of hunters/shooters, “we are shocked taxpayers money was used seemingly to promote the benefits of a minority (2% of Australians) male dominated activity which can cause much angst to others.”

In their letter to the Health Minister, the group attached an extract of a 2018 online survey they ran which captures impacts of duck shooting on rural families, animals and livelihoods.

It shows the main themes of respondents who lived and worked around the waterways were fears for safety, feelings of anxiety and a belief the activity brought no benefit to their communities.

“It’s one thing for Bridget McKenzie to spend $165,000 of taxpayers money appearing to promote her personal interests, but another to have a Health Minister apparently supporting the notion that happiness lay in the barrel of a gun.”

“Medical experts world-wide are praising the health benefits of bushwalking  and 15-27% of Australians (men, women and children) participate regularly or occasionally.

According to Roy Morgan not only has the proportion of Australians who go hiking/bushwalking skyrocketed over the last five years, but people who hike/bushwalk tend to take holidays where they can enjoy the great outdoors. This means money for rural communities”.

“McKenzies survey backfired big time, as despite its self professed bias it claims a mere $335 million is derived from hunting / shooting sports across the country – not a patch on the $41 billion and 100,000 jobs from nature based tourism hampered by hunting.”

The group says it has no issue with people wanting to shoot in a controlled environment at a shooting range. But it has a major issue with unmonitored recreational hunters “shooting at our wildlife and protected species and close to families”.

“Rural communities are struggling with real issues of drought, mental health and economic woes. We urge the Minister to conduct an independent and far reaching (further reaching than just hunters) consultation of the impacts of this activity before allowing even more public areas to be playgrounds for a minority of hunters.”

Refs:

https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/6638-when-hikers-bushwalkers-go-on-holiday-201601250049

https://www.ausleisure.com.au/news/australias-great-outdoors-needs-to-be-more-accessible-for-nature-based-tour/

For more information contact Kerrie Allen Spokesperson Regional Victorians OTDS Inc

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Dear Mr Hunt,

I write on behalf of Victorians who live and work around the waterways where unmonitored recreational killing of native birds is allowed to occur for three months of the year.
We are shocked that a Health Minister would support the notion that happiness lay in the barrel of a gun (based on a survey of hunters – what better way to obtain factual evidence of the virtues of guns than to listen to the arms industry?)
It appears a gross oversight that the non-shooting community, indeed those who live with shooting nearby, have not been consulted.
Despite more people living in rural areas and more people being interested in nature based activities such as bushwalking and cycling, no-one in government has thought to ask the majority of the public who do not shoot – let alone residents who have to live with it –  about the impacts of unmonitored recreational hunting on their families and businesses.
In the absence of any risk assessments or public consultation, our organisation conducted an online survey of those impacted by duck shooting. Hundreds of people from around the state provided heart felt accounts of adverse impacts to their children, animals and livelihoods. I enclose an extract of the survey. In short;
  • Over 80% had concerns for safety.
  • Over 90% do not believe duck shooting benefits their communities.
  • Over 90% reported suffering stress and anxiety.
Why $165,000 of taxpayers money has been afforded the promotion of a minority and male-dominated recreation (2% of Australians partake in hunting/shooting) is a mystery. Why wasn’t a survey done on the benefits of bushwalking or cycling? These two activities, unlike hunting, are in fact popular as well as safe, socially acceptable activities the whole family can enjoy.
To submit wellbeing is boosted from shooting, is a long shot (and even the survey says this couldn’t be concluded). It is of course likely that bushwalkers would also be healthier than average persons.
Economically the survey has backfired of course. Because despite the survey’s self professed bias, it claims a mere $335 million and 3300 jobs from hunting/shooting across Australia. Conversely, nature-based tourism (hampered by unmonitored men in cammo gear in the bushes nearby killing animals) brings $41 billion and 100,000 jobs to our country (Unlocking The Outdoors – Margy Osmond, Tourism & Transport Forum 2017).
My group has no issue with people wanting to shoot in a controlled environment at a shooting range. But we have a major issue with unmonitored recreational hunters shooting at our wildlife and protected species in close proximity to families.
Rural communities are struggling with real issues of drought, mental health and economic woes. We urge you to undertake a thorough consultation regarding the safety and wellbeing of the majority of Australians who do not partake in hunting including the rural families forced to live with it or those surprised by it in public areas, as a matter of urgency, especially before opening even more public lands to a minority group of recreational hunters.

Yours Faithfully
Kerrie Allen
Regional Victorians OTDS Inc

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.