The decision to hand out free drink bottles to primary school students, provided by the Game Council NSW, has evoked a strong response from unhappy parents, environmentalists and, at the other end of the spectrum, the hunting regulator that has defended the organisation’s actions.
While the Game Council says it is spreading a safety message by donating hundreds of drink bottles urging people to wear the colour orange while hunting, for many households, hunting is not part of their conversation, and is often something to which they are passionately opposed.
So having their child arrive home from school telling their parents they have a drink bottle to take with them when they hunt, has obviously got some parents offside.
While the Game Council NSW is responsible for the delivery of education programs to accompany changes in legislation that open up more areas to hunters, it seems this time the message is off-target.
Hunting has already divided the community and has a particular relevance to Orange, with areas such as Mount Canobolas and the Mullion Ranges affected by legislation that allows hunting to take place, albeit under what the Game Council says are strict conditions.
However, the debate over that decision is due to be reignited on a local level, in the newly-elected council, with environmentalist and Greens councillor Neil Jones seeking council’s support to have the state government’s decision reversed.
The Game Council in Orange says the response from the parents of primary school children is the first negative response it has received and it will continue with its campaign.
However, in hindsight, the decision to hand out the bottles to very young children, who are not able to put the message into context needs a rethink.