A District covers a designated geographical area and comprises a number of Units. In city and metropolitan locations the geography is often fairly tight but in rural and remote areas a District could cover many square kilometres. Districts will also vary in terms of how concentrated Guiding is within them – there might be many Units or just one.
The flexibility of the AGP allows for Unit structure to meet the changing needs of the District, the available Leaders and the needs of the girls. Depending on the rate of change, Unit structure and the ‘mix’ of Units may need to be reviewed on a regular basis at District meetings. Regardless of the age groupings within Units, Guides should still be encouraged to interact with other Units (for example through visits, joint activities and camps) to appreciate the bigger picture of Guiding in the District and the Region.
Roles in the District
The District Manager leads the Unit Leaders in her District and offers advice and guidance. The District Manager and the Assistant District Manager, Unit Leaders, Assistant Unit Leaders, and any Outdoors Leaders and Resource Leaders constitute the core District Team. If there is a District Secretary she will also be part of the team. The wider team includes parents and community members (ideally forming a Support Group) and Trefoil Guild and Olaves. [Please note that in some parts of Australia the core team may also consist of Trefoil and Olave Program representatives.]
Should I have an Assistant District Manager?
District Managers with large Districts are encouraged to appoint Assistant District Managers to share the workload. An assistant provides other advantages too – cover for holidays and other absences, reduces the feeling of being on your own, means you can play to your own strengths and provides a talent route for a volunteer who may ultimately want to be a District Manager. The Assistant must have achieved or be working towards the District Management qualification.
If you are unsure about having an Assistant, the first step might be to have a District Secretary who prepares meeting agendas, takes minutes and follows-up on actions. The District Secretary is not normally a Leader but a parent or other supporter.
Example of District Agenda: District Team agenda
What do non-member volunteers do?
Non-member volunteers are men and women who actively support Guiding but don’t pay a membership fee. They fulfil a wide range of roles, from helping fundraising, to being part of a Support Group (see below) or assisting with events and activities. They can support at Unit meetings, through a parent roster or help maintain properties, keep accounts, cater, mow lawns or assist at camps. A Volunteer Information Kit has been developed to help with the recruitment and deployment of volunteers and this is available on the GGA website. As the District Manager one of your most important functions is to keep these non-member volunteers informed and excited about Guiding.
Managing The District
The Guide District must be managed according to Guide Lines and the State Girl Guide Organisation policies. There are two models which can be used to manage the District. First, a Guide leadership team with a separate Support Group of parents and supporters. Second a District Management Team where the Leaders, parents and other volunteers meet together. The most common model is the first, the Guide leadership team with a separate Support Group, roughly 75 % of Districts having these. It is also the preferred model as it allows a clear separation of responsibility, spreads the workload more efficiently and allows Leaders to focus on their core role. However, it may not be possible to have a separate Support Group if the District is very small and/or very new. One of the priorities of the District Manager should be to develop the District to a point where it is possible to have a separate Support Group. Occasionally where Units share the Scout Hall or are co-located the ‘Support Group’ may be an amalgamation of the Guide and Scout parents.
Very occasionally it is necessary to move from having a separate Support Group to a District Management Team if Units have closed in the District and / or there simply are not enough parents to be office bearers. In this situation the decision to move to a District Management Team structure needs to be made at a meeting involving Leaders and Support Group members prior to the AGM of the Support Group. This timing enables office bearers to be elected to the new structure. As a District Manager considering moving to a District Management Team, it is important to discuss the options with your Region Manager.
Restructuring the District
Managing waiting lists
Sometimes there will be girls wanting to join Guides but there may be no vacancies in existing Units in the District. It is normally the District Manager’s responsibility to maintain a waiting list with the girl’s name and birth date, her parents’/guardians’/carers’ names, contact phone number and address. Normally new girls are invited to join in order of their place on the list. The District meeting is the ideal place to discuss and decide who should be taken in from the waiting list and the most appropriate Unit to join. You should also check if adjacent Districts have a vacancy (if distance is not a problem).
If a parent of a new girl volunteers to become a Unit Leader/Helper, thus allowing the number of girls in the Unit to increase in line with the supervision ratios in Guide Lines, the most ethical thing to do is to allow the daughter to join the Unit ahead of others on the list.
Opening a new Unit
The opening of a Unit is the responsibility of the District Manager. Opening a new Unit not only makes Guiding available to new girls and their families but contributes to the overall sustainability of the District. A new Unit might be needed because the existing one has reached capacity and / or there is an option to grow numbers further by meeting at a different time or day. Alternatively a Unit might be needed in another town or area either because of population growth or maybe because you have decided to target a particular ethnic group. Keep a close eye on waiting lists and enquiries as these are the best indication of potential demand. If the waiting list is large consider holding a meeting with parents to discuss the option of opening a new Unit.
There is no right number of girls to start a new Unit with. It could start in a small way, possibly with up to six girls or it could start with many more. When membership activities have been very successful, Units have started with 30 girls on the first night! If the numbers are large, you will need to make sure there are adequate adults to ensure compliance with supervision ratios. If you start with large numbers it will also be a priority to get the Patrol system up and running quickly. Until the Guides get to know each other, the role of Patrol Leader could rotate.
Just like other aspects of your role, opening a new Unit requires planning – see the Chapter on Building for the Future for information on planning. Some of the things you will need to consider are the meeting day/time, venue, resources and equipment (although these can be built up over time), the opening of a bank account and signatories. The most important consideration is having a qualified Unit Leader and adequate adults to meet the supervision ratios. If the Unit Leader is new and not yet qualified they can be appointed as long as they:
- have been accepted as an adult member
- have made/renewed their Promise as an adult or, are working towards it
- have met the relevant State / Territory Working with Children and police checks
- are teamed with a Learning Partner
- have completed the Induction phase of the Leadership Qualification
- are actively working towards completion of the Leadership Qualification.
- Have relevant First Aid Qualification or, someone in attendance with First Aid
Having an unqualified Unit Leader must be viewed as a temporary measure only. As the District Manager your responsibility is to ensure any unqualified Leaders have very good support from their Learning Partner and are having ample opportunity to complete Passport activities. Attendance at training should also be prioritised. The Unit Leader will need to be supported by an Assistant Unit Leader or Unit Helper and / or effective parent roster, also making sure that first aid requirements are met. There may be older Guides in other Units who can become Junior Leaders. Guide Lines sets out the supervision ratios required.
If you are a Region Manager, have regular conversations with your District Managers about when their next Unit will open so this becomes a normal way of thinking rather than something out of the ordinary. Opportunities for new Units should also feature on the agenda of the Support Group as their assistance will be important to stimulate interest in the community and if meeting in a new meeting place, additional insurance and other costs. When a new Unit does open, take the opportunity to have a celebratory meal or social gathering for the District and remember to thank all those in the State Office, Support Group and elsewhere in the Region who helped to get the new Unit off the ground. The State Office / Support Centre must be notified using a Unit Registration form. Guide Lines provides further information on the policy and procedures for opening new Units.
How are Units closed?
The decision to close a Unit is only be done after all other avenues have been exhausted, for example, membership drive, appeal for Leaders, different meeting time and finding assistance for the Leaders. The District Manager must consult with the Region Manager and inform the Region Manager prior to the closure decision being communicated to the girls and parents in that District. If the girls from the closed Unit transfer then the Unit funds and equipment are passed onto the Units involved (at the discretion of the District Manager and Region Manager). If the girls do not transfer then all Unit funds and equipment are disbursed according to State policy.
Last Modified: 07/07/16 at 5:39 PM