School operations


including camps and adventure activities

Overseas travel

In addition to the requirements set out in relation to all excursions (such as approvals, risk management planning, consent) there are additional steps when planning and conducting overseas excursions. When planning and conducting overseas excursions, schools are required to:

  • comply with DFAT travel advice
  • ensure all participants have appropriate travel insurance
  • ensure copies of appropriate documentation are available on the excursion and left at the school
  • a School Staff Travel Application has been completed and approved within the correct timelines
  • complete a post-travel report on the School Staff Travel Applications (staff login required) page
  • ensure staffing arrangements are sufficient in the event of an emergency
  • ensure excursion planning and risk management planning considers the school’s child safety responsibilities. This is especially important if there are any times where students are not under the direct supervision of school staff (such as homestay arrangements).  For more information refer to Child Safe Standards.

Schools should also:

  • ensure there are appropriate contingency funds available for staff on the excursion to access in the event of an emergency
  • develop a communications plan, including assigning a designated school contact
  • conduct a pre-trip briefing for staff, students and the parents/carers of students attending the excursion.

DFAT travel advice

Schools must confirm that the locations and activities planned comply with any current Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade travel advice. Risk and emergency management plans must be developed in consideration of the location, students, activities planned, types of travel undertaken and any relevant advice from DFAT.

The Smartraveller website is the DFAT travel advisory and consular assistance service. This site also provides useful travel information and tips. Before travelling overseas, schools should check the Smartraveller website to ensure that they have the most up-to-date travel advice for the proposed countries and locations to be visited.

Schools planning and conducting overseas excursions must ensure that they:

  • comply with any DFAT travel advice current for the proposed location 
  • subscribe to receive automatic travel advice updates from the Smartraveller website both prior to the excursion and when overseas
  • review their risk assessment if there are any changes to the DFAT travel advice. This will require the Principal to consider whether there is a need to cancel, recall or alter excursion arrangements.

This section describes the 4levels of DFAT travel advice with the required actions and considerations:

  • Level 1: Exercise normal safety precautions.
  • Level 2: ‘Exercise a high degree of caution’ — requires additional attention to planning and assessment of risk.
  • Level 3: ‘Reconsider your need to travel’ — would generally mean excursions should be postponed or cancelled as the educational goals are unlikely to justify the risks.  Any decision to continue would require consultation with the Security and Emergency Management Division (, a detailed risk assessment and treatment plan together with detailed contingency planning.
  • Level 4: ‘Do not travel’ — principals must cancel or postpone the excursion.

For a sample overseas travel risk register refer to: Sample Overseas Travel Risk Register (staff login required).

Travel insurance for overseas excursions

The cost of medical and hospital treatment is high in some countries; therefore, all students and staff must take out travel and medical insurance for the entire overseas trip.

The Department prefers that schools arrange travel insurance through the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA). The Department has arranged a cost-effective travel insurance facility for students and accompanying teachers on international excursions which provides generally broader cover than most commercial insurers. 

Travel insurance purchased through VMIA also provides the travellers access to AHI Assist, a 24/7 medical assistance company and emergency hotline, which includes services such as:

  • immediate access to doctors and nurses
  • case management if hospitalised
  • assistance in replacing a lost or stolen passport
  • legal assistance
  • the arrangement for transport by road, aircraft or special air ambulance to an appropriate medical centre if this is required for treatment, accompanied if necessary by a doctor or nurse
  • arrangements for evacuation and transportation home if necessary
  • civil unrest evacuation
  • natural disaster evacuation
  • immediate access to safety and security experts.

Refer to Insurance for Schools for further information on VMIA travel insurance.


The teacher in charge of the excursion must have access to the following documentation while overseas:

  • the front page (the photo page) of each participant’s passport and any visas
  • medical information/ relevant health management plans for all participants
  • risk management plan
  • emergency management plan (including details for in-country emergency assistance)
  • communications plan (if applicable)
  • contact details of families
  • contact details for students (if applicable)
  • contact details for host school (if applicable)
  • contact details for host families(if applicable)
  • each student’s consent form (paper copy preferred)
  • detailed itinerary
  • details of travel insurance for all participants.

A copy of these documents must also be left at the school. 

Contingency funds

Teachers accompanying students on overseas excursions should have access to sufficient contingency funds provided by the school to be used in the event of an emergency. Contingency funds must be approved by school council. 

Travel application process

Schools must read the Department’s Travel Policy including the Travel Rules of Use — School-based Staff before completing a travel application.

Schools must complete the DET School Staff Travel Application form located on the School Staff Travel Applications (staff login required) intranet page. The DET Travel Tracker — Admin/User Guide is a useful resource throughout the application process.

International travel applications must be completed at least three weeks advance.

The information included in the travel application will be reviewed by the region’s travel registrar, and will determine whether the travel is approved by the regional director. The application is then forwarded to the central travel registrar for a quality assurance check and approval by the Assistant Deputy Secretary, Schools and Regional Services.

For further details regarding the travel application form, please contact your region’s travel registrar.


When conducting an overseas excursion, a communications plan should be developed. This should consider the type of communication, the responsible party, timing of communication in response to a variety of situations (including emergencies).

Any overseas excursion must have a teacher in charge, who is the central point of contact for the group on the excursion. It is also recommended that schools assign a designated school contact. This should be a senior staff member who is not travelling with the group, and can be contacted in the event of an emergency. The designated school contact should be used as a key liaison between the travelling group and the Department, parents/carers and the school community. 

Pre-trip briefing

Schools should undertake a pre-trip briefing for students attending the overseas excursion and their parents.

Attention should be given to the following topics:

  • educational purpose
  • code of conduct for students while on the trip
  • cultural considerations
  • emergency response procedures (including communications)
  • risks associated with specific activities
  • logistics
  • travel SIM cards
  • passports/visas and security measures
  • money
  • recommended packing lists (including weather considerations).

Post-travel reporting

Upon return of the overseas trip, a staff travel report must be submitted to the regional travel registrar to within 14 days of return from trip. The template for the travel report can be found on the School Staff Travel Applications (staff login required) intranet page. The completed report musty be uploaded to the existing online form. Change the tracking status to: 'Submit Travel Report' and assign to your regional travel registrar. Please see the Department's the Department's Travel Policy for further details.

Chapter in the Excursion Guidelines outlining specific requirements for overseas travel with students

Reviewed 24 November 2021

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