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School operations

Excursions

including camps and adventure activities

Risk management planning

Schools must assess risk for all excursions (including local excursions) and identify measures to reduce reasonably foreseeable risk to students wherever possible. The type and level of risk, and possible consequences, will differ depending on a range of factors including the location, activity and cohort of students.

The type of excursion will determine the type of risk assessment required.

Risk assessment process

The risk assessment will inform the planning of the event and help decide what resources, staff and equipment will be required. The assessment should cover the entire excursion including:

  • all activities to be undertaken
  • excursion location or venue (including environment)
  • student behaviour, safety or illness
  • staff safety, illness or other specific needs.
  • transportation  (for example public transport cancellations, travelling in hazardous areas, student behaviour, travel sickness).

Where appropriate, the risk assessment should also address:

  • risk to intended educational objectives
  • any significant financial risks to the school and/or parents (for example if an excursion needs to be cancelled)
  • reputational risk (the risk that the general community might lose confidence or trust in the school or the Department if a reasonably foreseeable risk is not identified or if inappropriate steps are taken to minimise that risk and this results in injury, loss or damage).

The risk assessment must be completed during the planning of the excursions, reviewed before the commencement of the excursion and where appropriate or required, during the excursion.

Responsibilities and processes for treating risks must be communicated to all excursion staff before departing on the excursion.

Risk assessment for local and day excursions (not including adventure activities)

For local and day excursions (not including adventure activities), schools are strongly encouraged to document their risk assessment. Documenting risk is important for a number of reasons, including:

  • it allows staff to have a clear record of the risks they have identified and the measures they have put in place, and gives them greater ability to identify any possible gaps in their risk assessment that need to be addressed
  • it is a useful way of communicating roles and responsibilities relating to risk to all relevant staff
  • it can become important evidence in the event that someone is injured during the excursion and the school’s actions regarding risk planning and management are scrutinised.

A template Risk Assessment for Local and Day Excursions (login required) is available to support schools in documenting their risk assessments for local and day excursions that do not involve adventure activities.

Alternatively, schools may wish to use the same risk register as required for all other excursions.

All other excursions

For excursions that involve:

  • overnight stays
  • interstate travel
  • overseas travel
  • adventure activities
  • travel via water or air
  • weekends or school holidays.

a risk register assessing risks across the entire excursion must be completed and submitted to the principal when seeking approval for the excursion (refer to Risk Register and Emergency Management Plan template).

All risks need to be evaluated using the Department’s risk rating matrix. Risks rated:

  • low or medium do not necessarily require further treatments and are considered acceptable. These risks should be reviewed periodically.
  • high or extreme will require further treatment to reduce their level of risk to a more acceptable level.

If planning a camp that involves multiple adventure activities, a risk assessment for each adventure activity must be conducted. Schools may choose to place all risks associated with each activity on the one camp risk register, or complete a risk register for each activity.

Consultation with external providers

Schools should consider whether to consult with external providers during the preparation of the excursion risk register. Schools should also consider whether using an accredited provider and/or appropriately trained staff to lead activities (such as adventure activities) is sufficient mitigation for some activity specific risks. If so, the excursion risk register should not focus on treating risks relating to technical aspects of an activity (e.g. ropes or harnesses used in abseiling). Instead, these risks should be identified and include ‘the use of external provider’ as a control.

Sample risk registers for excursions, camps, overseas travel and specific adventure activities can be found in the Resources tab.

For further information on risk management more generally, refer to the Department’s policy Risk Management — Schools.

Chapter in the Excursion Guidelines outlining the requirements in relation to excursion risk management planning

Reviewed 21 July 2021

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