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School Policy & Advisory Guide

Safety, Emergency and Risk Management

Purpose of this policy

To ensure school excursions are conducted safely.

Prerequisite policy

Policy

Principals must ensure that appropriate emergency and risk management planning is undertaken for excursions.

Emergency planning

The emergency management planning in schools extends to and incorporates school excursions.

All excursion staff and where appropriate, students, must be familiar with emergency procedures for each excursion.

Planning must cover arrangements if the excursion needs to be cancelled or recalled (for example, due to forecast severe weather conditions).

School council approved excursions must have an emergency response plan see: Department resources.

When staying at a residential campsite emergency procedures should be explained as soon as practicable after arrival and a trial evacuation exercise should be carried out immediately to ensure that procedures are appropriate and staff and students are familiar with them.

Overseas Travel Requirements

The Smartraveller website is the Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), travel advisory and consular assistance service. This site also provides useful travel information and tips see: Smartraveller

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 table describes the four levels of DFAT travel advice with the required actions and considerations.

Level     Required Actions and Considerations
exercise normal safety precautions.
2 ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ - requires additional attention to planning and assessment of risk.
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 a detailed risk assessment and treatment plan together with detailed contingency planning.
4 ‘do not travel’ – schools must cancel or postpone the excursion.

Note: Before travelling overseas, schools should check the Smartraveller website itself to ensure that they have the most up-to-date travel advice for the proposed countries and locations to be visited.

For overseas travel risk management guidelines and a downloadable sample risk assessment register see: Risk Management in Outdoor Education

Emergency notifications

In the event of an emergency, to ensure information is provided to emergency services, schools must notify the:

Communications

Parents or carers should be advised of the telephone numbers (both during and outside school hours) for the designated school contact person in the event of an emergency. 

During the excursion, if parents have reason to believe an emergency may have occurred (such as a media report) they should be informed that in the first instance they should call the contact person and not personnel on the excursion as this will keep the telephone lines free at the excursion site.

Arrangements for communicating with parents in the event of an emergency, cancellation or recall of the excursion must be made.

Consent forms must remain at the school with the designated school contact person and copies of each form must be taken on the excursion by the teacher in charge.

In the event of an emergency, accident or injury:

  • staff on the excursion should:
    • take emergency action
    • immediately notify the school principal.  
  • the principal should make arrangements for the Department’s Security Services Unit to be telephoned on 9589 6266.

See: Emergency and Management Support within Related policies

Medical insurance for overseas excursions

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

Supervision

Emergency procedures should include the effects of an emergency on student supervision in the event of excursion staff being required to assist injured students or to go for help.

Students who may have difficulty communicating in an emergency because of age or disability should wear identity tags on excursions.

Fire danger or ban

Principals may need to cancel excursions at short notice on days of extreme fire danger or total fire ban.  On such days, the Security Services Unit liaises with fire authorities to obtain up to date information for communication to schools that may be affected by wildfire, including schools who may have students attending camps or other venues in areas affected by wildfire. If an excursion is not cancelled, special fire safety precautions will be required.

When required, schools must follow the Department’s emergency management (bushfires) procedures for off-site activities for all excursions.

Additional excursion equipment

School councils and principals:

  • must supply smoke detectors if indoor accommodation facilities do not have them
  • should consider providing communication equipment to be used in emergencies.

First aid

At least one staff member responsible for each group of students must have a first aid qualifications.

Staff must also have a first aid kit appropriate to the excursion location and activities undertaken.

Risk management

An assessment of excursion risks must be undertaken.

For excursions requiring school council approval, an excursion risk assessment plan must be provided which includes consideration of risks across the entire excursion (including transportation, activities undertaken and excursion venues). Venue managers and activity providers should be consulted in the preparation of the school’s risk management plan and where appropriate, the risk management plans of venues or activity providers should be used to inform the school risk assessment process.

Related policies

Department resource

See: