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Hazelwood and Churchill (Victoria, Australia) local Girl Guide information noticeboard.

Our Unit Uniforms

Organisations need a public facade representing who, what and where the organisation came from, what they represent and are part of their history..  Their Uniforms with colors and insignia represent the united front of that organisation. Sometimes the uniforms alter when significant happenings occur within that organisation.

Guiding Uniforms have changed at least four times that I have known.  There was the long sleeved blue Girl Guide Uniform that was worn in England, Australia and New Zealand in the 1970’s when I was a Girl Guide. And of course their Unit Scarves, white socks and black shoes. The Brownies had a brown long sleeve uniform with yellow tie thing brown socks and black or brown shoes. In the 1950s the Brownie Guide Uniform had a brown scarf.

When gumnuts were introduced into Australia in the very early 1990’s the Uniforms changed once again.  All the other sections [Brownies (7 to 10 .5 yrs], Girl Guides (10 to 15 yrs), Ranger Guides (14 to 18 years)  Rangers *(18 to 25 ( the 30 yrs)) and leaders (18 plus)] had a mid blue skirt or collots.  Sections were color coded.  Yellow T shirt for  Brownies, light blue for Guides,  Blue cotton (in Victoria White Cotton) for the Ranger Guides.  The Rangers, (who when the age changed so to had the name to Olave Program) wore a cotton blue shirt, and the Leaders a white shirt with a Guide Leaders print all over it [ AKA the where’s wally shirt]

For the Brownies and Guides the sash was a handy place to sew on the badges as bodies of this age just grew in every direction.  Once into the Ranger Guide section the badges were basically sewn onto the sleeves or pinned onto the chest area. The Olave Program and the leaders wore a tab where most of the relevant badges were placed.

In the middle 1990’s the then Victorian State Leader (Jane Scarlet) made several interesting public comments.  The first was that the only uniform the Guides were expected to actually wear was their Guiding smile and the clock of the Guides Promise and Law around her. [Would have made interesting wearing in our Australian weather!].  However on a practical scale the public expected a uniform to be worn.  So the next statement was that each Unit could have a Unit Uniform along with a camp uniform.

Basically our problem was that at the time the girls culture was one of not wearing uniforms anywhere..not to school, clubs, groups etc.  The youth wanted to fit in and be one as other.  The mass choice of having no individual identify meant less rejection from your peers in the turbulent time of social, financial, educational, technological and mass media change. In their eyes something had to remain stable.  This choice of being non-uniform was one way of believing they were having a say in their lives.

As society changes so do do the communities that are laced through out them. Uniform changes were coming though. Firstly State Primary Schools were in the process of introducing school colors.  After a few years all the school colors became enforceable as school uniforms. Then the local Collage brought through school colors which in turn became school uniform.  The T shirt tops became a choice of cotton or t shirt.  Blazers and cardigans, jumpers all had the schools logos sewn into them. A few years later the girls were reintroduced to a more up to fashion kilt that was available to wear as part of the local high school uniform.

In this Hazelwood and Churchill District it was known that not all parents could not afford a uniform. Uniform money was going into school wear.  Other Units either held a uniform bank or insisted that before the Girls could make their Guide Promise there uniform had to be purchased from the Guide shop. those who could not afford the uniforms simpily left believing that a uniform was necessary to be a Guide.

The Churchill Unit was different.  The then District Leader (Mrs Kath Tanian) wanted to explore “The New Way” of Guiding. The encouragement was full fold and unconditional as long as the essence of the Girl Guide promise and laws were taught and lived to each persons best…. including the Leaders.

What was found was that as the Guides got out and did things, their confidence grew.  They felt happy and looked after.  The parents trusted that their girls were in good care.  Slowly the uniforms were being wanted to be worn by the Guides and support came from families.  If old uniforms could be found in cupboards or second hand shops they were handed out to the Guides. Even today the Guides are happy to recieve these tops and sashes as most fear that their parents are unable / unwilling to afford their girls these Uniform luxarys of ‘belonging’.  When Uniforms are recieved  they were usually clean and ready to go by the next meeting time or event. Or a similar top is found. The Guides are gaining self respect and pride in what they can and are doing as individuals, as a team and as part of the wider Guiding world. Therefore they earn their merit as an individual through giving back into their Patrol and Unit.

From past experience no badges are given out now unless they are safety pinned onto the sash.  It is expected that these badges be sewn onto the sash by the very next week. Gradually a Uniformed presence was seen as the Guides made their way to various events in Melbourne or around this area.

It is now the 100th birthday of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the World. The Australian uniform has changed one again.  Posters were sent out and are now on display where the Guides of the Hazelwood and Churchill District  meet.  There have been discussions as to which uniform each girl would like to have.  Some want the collar ones others the V necked ones.  But which uniform will accommodate the metal badges of the 14 to 18 year olds?

At a  Hazelwood and Churchill District meeting a Gipp’s Guide offered to form a sub-committee to fund raise through the local Woolworth’s fundraising ‘tent’ towards the new Uniforms. Dates are being set and updates posted on this as things progress. The subcommittee will involve members of both the Gipps Guides, the District team and others that Jess knows who are willing to help.

The Guides are now once again having pride in their presentation.  They want to bee seen to help fund raise for the new uniform. Currently the Hazelwood and Churchill District Guides are standing on the precipis of an ownership energy flow from the Guides, the families and District team.  One that is moving forward revitalization of the guiding spirit in the  with all this activity.  It’s a good feeling to be around too.

April 29, 2010 Posted by | Gipps Guides, Help, Leaders, Sub Committees, Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment