Welcome to the first ACE blog post. We aim to have a regular post keeping you informed and even entertained!
Today we are proud to announce that ACE now has access to ForestrySA sites with many other dive sites in the final stages of negotiation.
This has been a huge undertaking with the support and enthusiasm of cave divers, locals and landowners to support our endeavour being pivotal to our success.
I want to answer some questions, to give you some information on what we’re all about.
Why create a new cave diving Association?
All founding Directors are passionate cave divers and agreed there was a need for freedom of choice on who represents them, who provides access and under which agency they gain their cave diving certifications.
We were further encouraged when landowners and Council representatives expressed their desire to have more international and interstate guests visit this region, providing valuable tourism income (covid notwithstanding).
What training do you offer?
All ACE training and certifications are through internationally recognised training agencies and provided by independent Instructors registered with
ACE which ensure our divers are prepared for diving internationally, the training remains relevant, up to date and universally recognised. At the time of writing we have officially recognised Technical Diving International (TDI) training programs and instructors, the call is out to all other internationally recognised diver training agencies with cave diving programs to contact us and have their programs and Instructors added to our recognised list.
I’m a cave diving instructor, can I teach cave diving courses using ACE access?
There are a few steps involved to be registered to teach using ACE access.
First, the training agency you teach for needs to be recognised by us to allow its instructors to teach under our access.
Some of the criteria they have to prove is instructor course minimum experience requirements, topics covered and quality control processes.
Second you need to apply to be a registered instructor. You will need to provide evidence of certification as a cave diving instructor, third party liability insurance covering cave diving, a minimum of 20 cave dives in the region you wish to teach and proof of authority to work in Australia, such as a working visa or permanent residency/citizenship.
In all it’s a simple and streamlined process.
I am already a cave diver; will my certifications be recognised?
We recognise the certifications provided by almost all training agencies that offer cave diving training and are World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC) members. We also recognise some certifications by agencies that are not, such as the NACD and CDAA.
This means that if you have a certification issued by one of the recognised agencies, you can join up and be a member. We do not mandate crossover courses or assessments, but we do require all members to pass a short online quiz on our Constitution, Regulations and site access rules. This ensures that you are aware of the regionally specific diving conditions and our rules governing our conduct and safety practices to provide safe and equitable cave diving site access to as many persons as possible.
I’m an international or interstate diver and only want to visit the region once a year at the most, do you have visitor permits?
We have based our organisation on visiting divers, in reality there’s only a handful of local cave divers. We don’t have a visitor permit as we believe that all members should have equal rights.
That is why we have created the one year and one-month membership terms.
For interstate or international divers, you can sign up for one month just before your trip to cave country and enjoy all the benefits of full membership during your stay, but not have to pay for it for the rest of the time when you’re not using it. There is no limit to how many one-month memberships you purchase in a lifetime, or even in a year, but it is about half that of a full year to cover administration and insurance costs.
Do I receive a membership or certification card?
We are looking towards a sustainable future and in this pursuit we have endeavoured to reduce or eliminate the environmentally unsustainable use of hardcopy for applications, memberships and membership/certification cards. This is why all indemnities, applications and forms are in a digital format and your membership card is in the form of a digital card. This has opened up some new opportunities, such as the ability to check other members have the correct credentials to dive a particular site or if you allow it, for your contact details to be searched by other members to arrange dives!
What happens if a Member doesn’t follow the rules?
We are very serious about ensuring our members abide by our Constitution and Regulations which were written to maintain safety, access and general behaviour standards. We do not however see ourselves as a policing authority, we encourage our members to self regulate and solve issues at the lowest possible level. If the organisation is involved, our processes for investigation and deliberation follow best practice and give all members ample opportunity to represent themselves, or to be represented. Our matrix for penalties is designed around the premise of re-education and re-offence minimisation, only in the most serious safety or conservation breaches are suspension or exclusion considered.
Explorers is in the name, is it just a name?
Our founding directors are passionate cave explorers. We have formed our Association around the premise that exploration feeds new diving opportunities. It is so engrained into our beliefs that the second objective of the Association (after provide dive site access) is to promote the exploration, and conservation of caves. Stay tuned for public invitations to exploration projects and some really exciting announcements on what we have recently discovered!
We can now offer an alternative, forward-looking and contemporary organisation that has had its constitution and regulations deliberately written to ensure inclusivity, fairness, openness and above all that the organisation remains focused on providing access to cave diving sites to its Members.
It is only looking positive for the future of cave diving in Australia and we welcome you to join us and make a contribution!