The Special Interest Areas (SIAs) encourage Scouts from all sections to try new things and pursue existing interests. Scouts set their own goals, enabling them to design a project that interests and challenges them personally.

They are broad, encouraging Scouts to pursue a diversity of interests and to ensure any activity a Scout could possibly think of can be included.

Outcomes are always measured against an individuals personal best.

Scouts use Plan>Do>Review> to set and achieve their goals.

When proposing an SIA project, Scouts take into account:

    • their existing level of knowledge
    • skills
    • experiences
    • personal interests
    • new challenges they want to explore

A completed project could be taken further with a new set of goals to achieve.

Scouts must consider if they need a Subject Matter Expert (SME) to help them set goals and reflect on their achievements, as well as what steps they will need to take to achieve their goals.

  • SIAs give young people ownership of their own development.
  • Research tells us that this is important to learning success.
  • SIAs build upon the skills outlined in the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum, skills such as creativity, independence, and problem-solving.

We are setting young people up for success in life. We are supporting them to achieve the Purpose and Mission Outcomes are always measured against an individual’s of Scouting! personal best.


At the conclusion of an SIA project, Scouts take the opportunity to review their progressions against the goals they set at the commencement of the task, and against the SPICES.

By taking a moment to reflect, Scouts can identify their personal development and celebrate their successes.

Scouts may feel that they did not achieve their goals or reach their personal best. They may realise that their goals were not challenging enough, or too challenging for their current abilities. This is not a failure of the individual, rather it is an important lesson in how to set and reflect on their goals.

The Six Special Interest Areas

• Adventure & Sport

• Arts & Literature

• Creating a Better World

• Environment

• Growth & Development

• STEM & Innovation

Experiential Learning

Scouting is about personal growth and development through experiential learning. That is why the Scout Method element learning-by-doing is crucial.

Except for the Outdoor Adventure Skills (which promote the development of very specific skills in order to be competent and safe in certain outdoor pursuits), being awarded a badge is no longer about ticking boxes and conforming to pre-determined standards set by someone else. SIA projects are deliberately open-ended and designed to meet the individual needs of each Scout.

The SIAs provide scope for adaptability and future proofing of the Achievement Pathways. For example, when new and emerging technologies are developed, they can easily be pursued by Scouts without having to create new SIAs.

Not achieving goals

If a Scout fails to reach their SIA project goal, this doesn’t mean they can’t be recognised for their achievements. This is where the Review> phase is extra important.

If a genuine learning experience has still occurred, there should be no qualms about recognising personal progression with the awarding of the SIA badge. The Unit Council should consider this carefully.

An Example

Here’s a example of how an SIA project might evolve:

1. Tom plays baseball for a local club;

2. Tom tries out for, and is subsequently accepted into the regional baseball development program;

3. Tom considers what he wants to achieve through the development program, and writes them down as goals in his SIA Planning Template;

4. Tom seeks the support of one of the coaches on the development program, as his subject matter expert. The coach helps him set realistic goals that relate to

Tom’s own personal progression;

5. Tom proposes his Adventure and Sport Special Interest Area to the Unit Council for approval;

6. Tom commences working on his goals, through his involvement in the regional development program;

7. After spending two months in the program, running two hours each week, Tom realises he can achieve two of his goals, but is unlikely to achieve his third goal, as this will take more time. He reflects on this, with his coach;

8. After three months, Tom presents his update to the Unit Council, along with comments from his coach;

9. If he was a Scout, Venturer Scout, or Rover Scout, The Unit Council may have asked Tom to keep a simple logbook of his hours of work towards his goals. However, they would have set this expectation at the commencement of the project.

10. The Unit Council decides that Tom has demonstrated an appropriate level of personal growth and progression in baseball. They award him an Adventure and Sport Special Interest Area badge.


1. A Special Interest Area Planning Template is available for each section to support Scouts to develop their SIA project using the Plan>Do>Review> process.

2. An SIA project may be completed individually, in pairs, in Patrols, or as a whole Unit. No matter how the goals are being pursued, it should continue to be about each individual doing their best and measuring their success against their own starting point.

The six SIAs are available to all sections, but the goals become developmentally more challenging as a Scout progresses through the age Sections. Always consider what is developmentally right for the individual Scout.

1. How a Scout completes an SIA project, and when they might do it, will differ depending on how many, and who is involved.

2. As a unit starts learning about the SIAs, it may be easier to complete projects as a whole Unit, gradually progressing in confidence until individuals are self setting goals and completing projects independently.

    • Project Patrols could be set up, with Scouts with similar interests together
    • An adult could assist Project Patrols to set their goals
    • The SIA can still be completed as individuals (especially younger sections) or, collectively as long as each scout contributes the correct hours.
    • Time can be given to get things started during a meeting and then the rest of it might be finished at home.

3. SIA projects could start on a camp. Or the majority of the project might be completed on camp and finished at the next meeting night of the Unit.

4. SIA projects might develop from brainstorming program ideas that did not get included in the main Unit program cycle. Just sharing an idea during times when the unit is developing a new program can lead to the beginnings of an idea for an SIA project.

5. Other community interests, like Sports clubs, language schools, dance academies, travel, and so on, might lead to new SIA projects.

In summary, SIA project ideas can be generated at any time and from anywhere.

The Role of the Unit Council

• Unit Council approval should occur at the commencement and at the conclusion of an SIA project.

• What this looks like will depend on the Unit.

» It might be a brief gathering of the Unit Council at the beginning or conclusion of a regular night.

» It might be that the Unit decides to have monthly Unit Council meetings dedicated to Achievement Pathways elements.

» A member of the Unit Council could take on the responsibility for the SIAs

• The Unit Council is there to support and encourage members in their SIA project endeavours.

• If the Scout is in Scouts, Venturer Scouts, or Rover Scouts, the Unit Council may request that the Scout keep a simple log book of their times towards meeting the minimum requirements of a project. An alternative approach is that the Scout reflects on the time taken for the project, in their project Review>. The Unit Council must set the expectation before commencement.

• Unit Councils might help find an appropriate subject matter expert.

• Unit Councils might support a Scout to adjust their goals when they find they are having difficulty with the original ones.

• If the Unit Council doesn’t feel that a Scout has achieved to the best they can, they offer encouraging guidance

• The Unit Council should present the SIA badge to the successful Scout at the very next opportunity.

The Role of Unit Members, Adults, and Parents

Other Scouts in the Unit, youth and adult leaders, and parents all have a supporting role to play in Special Interest Area projects.

• The rest of the Unit, or at least a Scout’s home patrol members, should be aware of who is working on an SIA, and what they are doing.

• Sometimes it might be helpful for a patrol to meet together for a Scout to give an update on their progress, and seek some support, assistance, or feedback.

• Adult and youth leaders have an important supporting role in all phases of an SIA. They must be available and approachable.

• Adults and youth leaders offer guidance with goal setting, finding a subject matter expert, and reviewing their project. When a Scout gets stuck, they are there to suggest ways forward, and generally be encouraging.

• Parents are welcome to help out with SIA projects; however, their role is once again about supporting their Scout – in the same way other adults support SIA projects.

• The Scout should still reach the minimum time requirement of their own effort.

In Summary:

Individual Scouts need to…

    • be on the look-out for project ideas
    • have a desire for personal progression
    • be open to suggestions from others
    • be prepared to set goals that push them a bit beyond their comfort zone

Patrols and Patrol Leaders need to…

    • be proactive to support their members
    • help their members with ideas, and finding subject matter experts
    • be encouraging and positive
    • ask good questions that help their Scout to set goals and review their project

Units need to…

    • be a support network for their members
    • be prompt at recognising SIA achievements

Unit Leaders need to…

    • ensure that the Unit Council meets often enough
    • ask good questions that help their Scout to set goals and review their project
    • be proactive to support their members
    • help their members with ideas, and finding subject matter experts
    • be encouraging and positive
    • help ensure goals are specific, achievable, and measurable

Unit Councils need to…

    • meet often enough to ensure that they are able to review SIA projects
    • build a database of project ideas and supporters that can be called upon
    • be encouraging and supportive to all members

Adult Leaders need to…

    • be approachable
    • consider the different needs of different Scouts, and act accordingly
    • ask good questions that help their Scout to set goals and review their project
    • help ensure goals are specific, achievable, and measurable

Getting started with the SIAs

There are many different ways to implement Special Interest Areas in your Unit.

A Unit may initially decide to start doing SIA projects by designing a project as a whole Unit. Once they have built up some experience, they might be ready to encourage each other to try out individual projects. Each person still needs to list their goals and action plan (even if they might neatly be identical)

A Unit Project

This is a great way to introduce the concept of SIAs. For example, a Cub Scout Unit might be investigating the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They do some activities, such as those found here: sustainabledevelopment/student-resources/

As part of a Review> of the night’s activities, the Unit agrees they would like to do an SIA project based on the SDGs.

• They vote on one that they found most interesting.

• They have learnt that some children across the globe do not have food to eat or clothes to wear, when they themselves have so much food and clothing to choose from. They feel this inequality is unfair.

• At the next meeting of the Unit, they come up with three goals to work towards over the next program cycle, with a desire to achieve the Creating a Better

World Special Interest Area. Their Goals are

» Help cook at a local homeless shelter

» Run a collection point for children’s clothing at the Scout Hall

» Collect non-perishable food items for families in need

• However, you realise that even though the Cub Scouts have come up with some amazing goals, they are probably too large for everyone to do as a Special interest Area. They would take much more than the 4 hours of work required for this SIA.

• You suggest that the Unit split into three Project Patrols for this SIA and each Patrol can focus on a different SIA goal.

• Each Patrol is supported by a different adult. They could be an adult leader, a parent, a leader from another section, or even a community member.

• With their adult supporter, each patrol makes a list of the tasks that need to happen to achieve their goal. give each person a job. At this age, the adult supporter may need to communicate with parents and provide extra support to achieve success.

• As each patrol is working independently of the rest, they can perform their Review>, as a patrol, as soon as they have completed their goal. The project patrol leader would report the successes of their patrol to the Unit Council at the next opportunity, and the Unit Council is proud to award the Creating A Better World SIA badge to each active participant (with 4 hours of contribution) of the project patrol.

An Individual Project

As Scouts begin to see the possibilities that SIAs offer, they should be encouraged to consider possibilities for their own projects and goals.

• The Unit might theme some meeting nights around the Areas – an Arts & Literature night and an Environment night, for instance.

• Scouts could meet in patrols near the end of these nights to look through the Matrix of Project Suggestions (see below)

• Using these suggestions, or ideas of their own, Scouts could start formulating goals. They might take the planning template home to work on, or pick it up again the following meeting.

• Having many Scouts beginning at one time will be onerous on the Unit Council. A fair way of sorting through the commencement goals might be needed. The Unit Council may need to take 15 minutes during a normal meeting, over a few weeks, to review each application.

• It will be important for youth and adult leaders to support and encourage Scouts to give SIAs a go independently, and ensure that the Unit Council is quick to review the commencement goals, and the completion review, and have the badges awarded to the Scout promptly, to build momentum around the Special Interest Areas.