Victorian Rover Scouts and Swords
In Victoria, swords are classed as a ‘prohibited’ weapon under the Control of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic). Possession or use of swords in contravention of the Act in Victoria could result in a $12,000 fine or six months in jail.
The Scouts Association of Australia was granted an exemption by the Governor in Council to bring into Victoria, display, advertise, purchase, sell, possess, use or carry a sword for the purposes of keeping and displaying a sword or participating in ceremonial activities. This exemption applies to any active member of the Scouts Association of Australia who is 18 years or older. An active member is a member who has been a member for at least 6 months.
There are strict storage requirements imposed upon the exemption, requiring the sword to be ‘stored safely and securely’. This means that the sword is stored in a way that ensures it is not readily accessible to persons other than those covered by the exemption.
When being transported between its usual place of storage and places it is being used for legitimate purposes under the exemption, it must still be stored in a way that ensures it is not readily accessible to persons other than those covered by the exemption and is concealed from plain sight during any such transportation.
The exemption also requires a record of possession, which is held by the Victorian Rover Council as well as the Crew in direct possession of the sword.
What this means for Crews is that when possessing and using a sword for Crew ceremonies, there are important regulations and responsibilities to be adhered to. When looking to acquire a sword the Crew should consider the following:
Where do I get a sword from?
There are businesses that legally sell swords to those with exemptions under the Act. Though it could be worth your time to approach your local Freemason Lodge and ask them if they have any swords that they could let you have. The local historical society may also be a good start. There are even some Crews that take on the challenge of making a sword out of wood or even learn how to work with metal!
Where will it be stored?
The sword will need to be stored in a safe manner, in a locked storage box that is secure in your den or hall. It also needs to have a means to be transported to where you will be using the sword and remain safe and secured.
Who will have access?
With the sword locked away, there should be a key that can provide access to only those that should have access. This means that no one under 18 should have access. It is also a good rule to have that Squires are not to handle the sword. This falls in line with the ‘active member’ rule, which requires a 6-month period within the movement before being covered by the exemption, which is the length that it should ordinarily take someone to complete their Squire training after joining the Crew.
When will it be used?
Swords are a great addition to your ceremonies and provide a unique aspect to the symbolic framework of Rovers. They should be used during relevant ceremonies such as a knighting or a booting and not carried around on the average Crew night for fun. As in all things in relation to the public and Scouting, be respectful and if questioned as to what you’re doing with a sword answer politely and factually.
We have a sword we don’t want anymore, what do we do?
When a Crew becomes defunct or doesn’t want to hold onto a sword anymore, someone still needs to responsible for the sword. If this happens, please get in contact with the Deputy Chairman and organise for the sword to be handed over. The VRC can hold the sword on trust for future incarnations of your Crew or if you don’t want the responsibility anymore, we can find a Crew to adopt your sword and keep it within the movement.
If you don’t hand the sword off to the VRC to accept responsibility for the sword, it needs to be disposed of in a responsible manner. This generally means surrendering the sword to the police.
What does the Crew need to do?