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education.vic.gov.au

School operations

Excursions

including camps and adventure activities

Adventure activities

The following information is additional to the requirements relating to all excursions. Mandatory guidelines are also provided in relation to specific adventure activities, under each activity name below.

An adventure activity is an activity that involves greater than normal risk which may include:

  • physical activities beyond the scope of the regular physical education curriculum
  • travel into a relatively undeveloped area of the country in which vehicle contact is difficult and/or uncertain
  • confrontation with natural environmental challenges requiring greater reliance upon personal resources than would normally be required in day-to-day life
  • less than normal contact by person or by telephone, with medical and other public services available in normal day-to-day life
  • exposure to the natural elements with less than the normal physical protection provided in day-to-day life
  • theme parks, fun parks and trampoline centres
  • an activity listed under the Adventure Activities Guidelines, outlined below

If a principal does not have detailed knowledge of an adventure activity as listed in the Adventure Activities Guidelines below, it is recommended that further information and advice is sought from:

  • activity peak bodies (see activity specific guidelines)  
  • teachers or other qualified person with recent experience instructing the activity, who can offer an understanding of both the technical requirements and the educational context

Pre-activity Check Statement

Prior to any adventure activity, the teacher in charge of the activity must undertake a pre-activity check (see template Pre-Activity Check). The pre-activity check aims to identify any reasonably foreseeable issues that could possibly affect the planned activity negatively particularly in regards to the safety of the participants and staff.

A pre-activity check must include establishing:

  • the current weather, warnings and forecast conditions
  • the fire danger index and current fire conditions and warnings
  • the conditions and nature of the environment in which the activity is being undertaken and the impact on the activity
  • the psychological and physical health and wellbeing of participants and staff on the activity
  • the condition of the activity specific and safety equipment being used in conducting of the activity e.g. helmets, life jackets, bikes etc

A decision to proceed with the activity, modify it, cancel it or implement contingency plans should be made based on the pre-activity check and any issues that could reasonably be considered to negatively affect the activity and/ or the health and wellbeing of the participants and staff.

Adventure activity guidelines

The safe running of outdoor and adventure activities requires:

  • appropriate planning
  • the identification of potential risks and difficulties
  • active decision making

These adventure activity guidelines are for developing a risk register specific to the location, activity and group participating. They support teachers’ professional judgement and experience. These may be incorporated into the risk register for the overall excursion or developed separately, using the risk registers available in Resources tab – under Activity Specific Risk Registers. 

If the excursion has an overnight camping component, the camping guidelines are relevant in addition to any planned specific activities. The length and difficulty of an overnight route should be selected so that groups generally arrive at the camp well before dark, with sufficient energy left to make camp and prepare a meal.  This may not, however, be appropriate in all situations, for example, when it is preferable to walk at cooler times of the day.

These adventure activity guidelines are agreed minimum activity standards for adventure operators and they do not necessarily reflect the greater duty of care owed to students.

Specific activities guidelines

Adventure activities without guidelines

Schools may consider adventure-based activities for which specific guidelines have not been provided. A thorough risk assessment is critical when undertaking an activity for which guidelines have not been provided.

For these activities schools need to comply with the Australian Adventure Activity Standards, and consider the greater duty of care that is required for students.

Before undertaking these activities, principals must satisfy themselves that the activities:

  • are of education value
  • are supervised and instructed by appropriately experienced and/or qualified staff
  • when offered by an external provider, have appropriate insurance cover

Further information and advice should also be gathered from more than one source. This may be obtained through:

  • peak bodies
  • professional associations
  • colleagues with experience instructing the activity with students

Flying Foxes

Flying Foxes are covered under the Challenge Ropes Course Guidelines

Caving

Caving activities must only be conducted under the following circumstances:

  • novices must only attempt the simplest caves
  • only teachers and other adults with extensive caving experience lead and supervise students
  • there is a ratio of no more than five students to one instructor
  • permission to enter caves is obtained from the appropriate land manager

Flying or hot air ballooning

Only commercial operators licensed to carry passengers can be used for school organised activities.

Unsuitable activities

These activities are unsuitable for school students because of the potential risks involved:

  • bungee jumping
  • hang gliding or other gliding activities
  • parachuting or skydiving
  • flying ultra-light aircraft
Chapter in the Excursion Guidelines providing policy and guidance on conducting adventure activities, including guidance on specific adventure activities

Reviewed 25 November 2020

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