The Australian Government has decided to pause the planned introduction of new registration and accreditation requirements for drones weighing more than 250 grams that are used for recreational and educational purposes, which was due to commence on 1 July 2023. This page will be updated once the new requirements are finalised.
This policy explains when drones can be used on school grounds.
- There are different rules that apply to drone use on school grounds depending on who is using the drone, and why the drone is being used.
- School community members (including staff and students) can use drones on school grounds for recreational and educational purposes with permission from the principal, provided they comply with the requirements set out in this policy.
- Schools can operate drones for commercial purposes (for example, creating promotional footage for the school) subject to additional accreditation and registration requirements. Schools can also engage third parties to operate drones for commercial purposes.
- Members of the public must not fly drones within or above school grounds or take pictures of school buildings or grounds without prior permission from the principal.
- Schools must obtain consent from parents or carers before collecting or using photographs and film of students.
- Schools must not use drones for surveillance purposes and any school considering this must seek advice from the department’s Security Unit by emailing
There are different rules that apply to drone use on school grounds depending on who is using the drone, and why the drone is being used. Refer to the relevant subheadings below.
Recreational and educational use of drones by school community members
School community members can use drones on school grounds for recreational and educational purposes with permission from the principal, provided they comply with the following requirements. School community members are people with a legitimate, ongoing relationship with a school, including:
- school employees
- signed-in visitors (for example, parents)
- department employees.
The following regulations are prescribed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), which is the government body that regulates Australian aviation safety.
Drones must be operated:
- by visual line of sight only (not using goggles or a screen) and in weather conditions that permit unaided visibility, that is, close enough to see, maintain orientation and achieve accurate flight and tracking
- no higher than 400 ft/120 m above ground level.
Drones must not be operated:
- at night
- through cloud, fog or smoke
- any closer to than 30 m to vehicles, boats, buildings or people (other than those helping to control or navigate the drone)
- over people or populous areas, including school events or sports games
- within 5.5 km of an airfield (airfields include helicopter landing sites in locations such as hospitals) – drones weighing 250 g or less are excepted
- during emergency situations such as bushfires, floods and traffic accidents, as they may pose a major safety risk to emergency personnel in the air and on the ground
- to drop or discharge an object that poses a risk to another aircraft, person or property.
You can check how close your school is to controlled airports by using a . These apps also provide information about other airspace restrictions (temporary and permanent) that may limit drone use at schools.
More information about CASA regulations for recreational and educational use of drones is available at . CASA has also produced a short video about drone safety rules. Watch or download the transcript .
Other rules and considerations
School community members must not operate drones weighing more than 2 kg. Drones must not be flown beyond the perimeter of school grounds.
When deciding whether to approve recreational or educational drone use by students, principals must consider appropriate supervision measures. Students aged under 16 years must not operate drones without direct supervision. Direct supervision requirements may also apply to students aged 16 years or older, depending on the type of drone and how it will be used. Refer to the for guidance on determining appropriate supervision arrangements.
Schools must obtain consent from parents or carers before collecting or using student photographs and film. In some instances, such as if the content includes student art or other work, additional consent may be required to ensure compliance with copyright law. Refer to the department's policy on and for more information.
When deciding whether to approve recreational or educational drone use, principals are encouraged to consider appropriate materials, shape and size for a drone to minimise injury or potential damage to the school or neighbouring property.
Commercial use of drones
If a drone is used to make money or advertise a school, this is considered commercial flying. Commercial use of drones on school grounds is subject to additional rules, depending on whether the drone is operated by a school community member or by a third-party contractor.
Commercial use of drones by school community members
In addition to complying with the rules for recreational and educational use of drones, school community members using drones on school grounds for commercial purposes must:
- obtain a remotely piloted aircraft operator accreditation
- ensure their drone is registered with CASA.
Use of drones by a commercial drone operator engaged by the school
Principals may engage the services of a commercial drone operator to undertake aerial photography of school buildings and grounds. For safety and security reasons, principals must and check and record:
- the operator’s aviation reference number
- that the operator has the required credentials and approvals to carry out the desired services (including holding a drone operator’s certificate and CASA approval)
- that the contractor has appropriate insurance
- if students may be photographed or videoed and, if so, that arrangements are in place to comply with the privacy requirements outlined in the department's policy on and
- that copyright ownership of any photographs, sound recordings or video footage is addressed in any agreement.
Commercial operators of drones on Victorian school grounds must have insurance covering their operations. Evidence of insurance coverage should be included in access requests.
Responding to use of drones by members of the public
Members of the public (people who are not school community members or otherwise engaged by the school or the department) must not fly drones within or above school grounds or photograph school buildings or grounds without prior approval from the principal. Additionally, members of the public are not permitted to photograph or video students. This applies to members of the public using drones for recreational or commercial purposes.
Approval requests should provide details of the size of aircraft to be used, evidence of the required pilot licences and operator’s certifications, flight plans, insurance coverage and evidence of CASA notification.
Under certain circumstances, an unauthorised drone flying over government school airspace may constitute a trespass on the minister’s land. Schools can report unapproved drone use by lodging a complaint via the and calling the Victorian Police Assistance Line on .
Surveillance use of drones
Responding to safety incidents
Schools are required to manage all safety incidents in accordance with the . Safety incidents include actual or alleged events or situations that cause or create a risk of causing personal harm, property damage or a breach of school security. This may include situations that are not considered emergencies.
Reviewed 19 July 2023