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Visitors to Crown reserves

An important part of your role as a Crown land manager (CLM) is managing the rights and responsibilities of visitors to your reserve. This means encouraging public use of your reserve while ensuring the safety of visitors and minimising impact to natural environments.

Who visits Crown reserves?

Crown reserves have been established for a broad range of purposes, with an equally broad range of visitors who use them.

Visitors might include:

  • clubs (pony, pigeon, rugby league, cricket, etc) – members and supporters
  • shows – exhibitors, competitors and visitors
  • caravan parks – residents and visitors
  • public halls – function organisers, attendees and club members
  • recreational facilities – general users of sportsgrounds, tennis and netball courts and other similar facilities
  • cemeteries – visitors and families of the deceased
  • conservation areas – walkers, riders, runners, and people caring for flora and fauna.

These visitors have different expectations based on their needs and how often they visit. Expectations may include:

  • safe, clean, well-maintained facilities – roads, paths, fences, grounds and grandstands
  • access (where access is otherwise restricted) by particular visitors or groups of visitors where agreement has been reached with the CLM
  • no conflicts over access with other users
  • reasonable fees for access and services – where appropriate
  • prompt and polite responses to questions and concerns
  • no interruptions to basic services such as electricity, water and sewerage
  • maintenance of the reserve to achieve its primary purpose.

Visitor relationships

Word of mouth is a powerful way of telling the local community that your reserve is well-managed and worth visiting. Visitors can be a great source of good publicity if they have a positive experience visiting the reserve.

Visitors will provide positive feedback about their experience if their expectations are met. An important part of this is receiving good service from CLM employees, contractors and members. With this in mind, try to keep your interactions with visitors positive, and consider the impression the visitor will take away from the experience.

Visitor rights and restrictions

Although it is important to remember that visitors represent the wider community and have certain rights of access to reserves, there are also some restrictions that exist to protect both the visitor and the reserve.

Rights and responsibilities

Generally, the public has right of access to many types of reserve, particularly reserves for public recreation. There are exceptions to this rule where a reserve has been set aside for a specific purpose, such as a fire station or hospital, or if access is restricted for health and safety reasons.

Visitors’ activities should be safe and socially acceptable, and be conducted in a way that does not affect other users of the reserve.

Any activities should also be in line with the notified reserve purpose and should comply with all relevant policies and protocols. For example, a motor rally in an environmentally sensitive area would be unacceptable.

Restrictions

Clear signage or other action regarding restrictions, such as speed limit signs and speed bumps, can help make visitors  aware of restrictions that apply to their use of the reserve. Maintaining good working relationships with the local police and council rangers will also help you when enforcing relevant restrictions.

Situations that may require management include:

  • illegal car races
  • bonfires – particularly in environmentally sensitive areas or during fire bans
  • damage to reserve trust property
  • trail-bike riding
  • removal of native flora or fauna
  • dumping of rubbish
  • building of unauthorised structures
  • residing or camping illegally on the reserve
  • grazing stock
  • removal of warning signs or other signage.

Graffiti

Under the Graffiti Control Act 2008, a local council may, without the agreement of the owner or occupier of any land, carry out graffiti removal work on that land if the graffiti concerned is visible from a public place (which includes Crown reserves). The graffiti removal may only be carried out from a public place.

The local council bears the cost of removing graffiti and must, within a reasonable period, give the owner or occupier of the land concerned written notice that the work has occurred.  A local council must pay compensation for any damage it may cause when removing graffiti.

Equal provision of services and access for all visitors

CLMs should ensure that the services, facilities and general access arrangements it provides are designed as far as possible to cater for all types of visitors, including those who may have an impairment or disability.

The National Construction Code provides requirements for access to physical infrastructure, such as buildings, walkways and toilets, including for someone with an impairment or disability. Generally these requirements refer to the design standards in the Australian Standards.

CLMs should be aware that any person may take action under the (Commonwealth) Disability Discrimination Act 1992 if they feel they have been treated less fairly than people without a disability.

For more information on this and other legislation, and on discrimination generally, see:

The NSW Public Service Commission has information on making workplace adjustments to cater for people with a disability, and it will also help CLMs meet the needs of visitors with a disability.

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