Important links and resources for use when planning outdoor school activities.
Your communication strategy should enable you to: receive weather forecasts and warnings, communicate with the school, and engage support in the case of an incident or emergency.
- Choose communication equipment based on current communication technology.
- Develop a communication strategy for the group during the program that also enable communication with outside parties including the school and emergency services.
- Be aware of the limitations of your communication strategy.
Communication during an emergency
In the event of an emergency, an accident or an injury to a student or staff member, the principal should immediately telephone the Department's 24-hour Emergency and Security Management Branch on
(03) 9603 7999.
For information about policy development regarding mobile phones use, see:
School Policy and Advisory Guide
Students Using Mobile Phones
At least one member of staff responsible for each group of students must hold an appropriate first aid qualification. For adventure activities, the minimum acceptable level of first aid training is the senior first aid certificate (often referred to as a level 2 first aid qualification) or its competency based equivalent HLTAID003 Apply First Aid.
For remote, isolated or mobile activities, a higher level of first aid training is required appropriate to the setting, such as Wilderness First Aid or its competency based equivalent THHGHS11A Manage casualty in a remote and/or isolated area.
A first aid kit must be carried with the group that is appropriate to the activity, the location, the group and the applicable level of first aid training.
Staff members must consider carefully the nature and location of the excursion as well as medical history of the students to determine the level of first aid training required by staff.
First aid training
The extent of the first aid training required by staff will be determined by:
- the environment in which the group will operate
- the remoteness of the location
- length of time the staff are required to provide patient support before definitive medical help arrives
- the resources available to support a patient in these conditions
- the known medical history of students and staff
Given the group’s communication strategy and taking into account the location of the excursion, could medical care and treatment be obtained within a reasonable period of time in the event of an emergency?
First aid providers
For more information about first-aid, see:
School Policy and Advisory Guide
A teacher owes students a duty to take reasonable steps to protect them from any injury that the teacher should have reasonably foreseen. This requires teachers and principals not just to react to situations as they arise but to engage in appropriate risk management to reduce the risks of injury.
Principals should implement risk management processes for identifying and controlling hazards and risks .They should also ensure that sufficient members of staff are trained in first-aid to an appropriate level of competency to enable first aid to be given when necessary .
School personnel have common law responsibilities and occupational health and safety obligations to conduct adventure activities safely. In a recently reported 2006 case brought against the NSW Department of Education and Training (Inspector Kilpatrick v State of NSW), the Department was found to have breached the Occupational Health and Safety Act in a number of ways including failing to ensure that an adequate risk assessment was conducted for a school swimming excursion.
The risk assessment which had been undertaken by the teacher was inadequate having regard to the specific circumstances of the school excursion. There was also a failure to follow the Departmental guidelines for conducting such an activity. A significant fine was imposed by the court. This case highlights why, as a minimum, staff need to carefully comply with these Safety Guidelines. To discharge their duty of care, staff must proactively undertake risk management for all aspects of the activity.
For more information about:
Involvement in excursions and outdoor adventure activities is frequently a new and challenging experience for students. Generally these outdoor and adventure experiences take place outside the school grounds and in the natural environment.
Therefore, it is essential that prior to their involvement in such activities, students are prepared educationally, physically and psychologically so that their experiences are safe, enjoyable and educationally rewarding.
It is essential that school staff who are familiar with students’ abilities and disabilities are involved in the planning of the entire excursion program to ensure that, as far as practicable, all students are able to participate successfully. While students may need to be prepared in advance for particular activities, some modifications to activities may be needed to enable those with disabilities and impairments to participate.
Well in advance of a school program that is to involve excursions or outdoor adventure activities, the students and their parents should be provided with information about the program’s educational objectives, the nature of the activities, the venue, any particular clothing and equipment requirements, and the cost.
Prior to the program and before each activity, students need to be briefed about the organisational arrangements that will apply during the excursion/program, the specific requirements for their participation, environmental impact considerations for the area to be visited, potential hazards and risks, safety arrangements and procedures to be followed in an emergency. Where particular skills and knowledge are a prerequisite to safe participation (such as lighting and refuelling a stove), evidence that students have these skills and knowledge should be documented.
For more information, see:
Documentation of participation preparation, pre-requisite skills, knowledge (doc - 139kb)
Student medical information
Supervision is a critical factor in managing risk.
For excursions involving overnight excursions, camps, interstate and overseas travel, excursions involving travel via sea or air, excursions involving weekends and vacations and adventure activities, the teacher-in-charge is responsible for documenting the supervision strategy as part of the approval process. Staff members will supervise students according to that strategy.
For further information about supervision, see:
School Policy and Advisory Guide
Staffing and Supervision
- Vehicles used to transport students must comply with
VicRoads registration requirements.
- Drivers must comply with all licensing requirements.
- Occupational Health and Safety laws require employers and employees to take all reasonably practicable steps to manage driver fatigue.
- Equipment carried inside vehicles must be securely stowed and not create a risk of injury or damage.
In circumstances where a teacher or staff member is to drive a vehicle transporting students, particular care should be taken to ensure that they have adequate rest prior to driving. This is especially the case where the activity includes an overnight component.
VicRoads offers further advice on driver fatigue management and legislation at
Drivers of vehicles with up to and including 12 seats (including the driver) require a current drivers licence.
Drivers of vehicles with 13 or more seats (including the driver) require a current licence appropriate for the vehicle and must:
Hazardous areas (snowfields)
Buses with a capacity of 13 or more seats entering prescribed hazardous areas must have an annual hazardous areas inspection and a current certificate. The driver must also hold a current Hazardous Areas Authority and carry the required equipment for hazardous areas.
Further information about requirements for travelling in Victorian Hazardous Areas can be found in the School Policy and Advisory Guide,
Information can also be obtained from
Equipment stowage in vehicles
No loose equipment should be carried in the passenger area of a vehicle that could cause injury in the event of a vehicle accident. Equipment and luggage should be carried and secured as appropriate in trailers, roof racks or behind luggage barriers. VicRoads offers advice on load restraint at
Secure your load
See School Policy and Advisory Guide,
The weather forecast for the location you are visiting should be checked in the days leading up to the program and on the day the program commences. If the program extends overnight, monitor and assess the weather throughout and based on that information access daily weather forecasts and warnings.
Information about Victorian weather conditions is available from local radio reports or the
Bureau of Meteorology
Weather conditions can change rapidly. Monitor and assess the weather throughout the activity and be prepared to cancel, modify or relocate at anytime.
Weather warning telephone services:
- Bureau of Meteorology Warning Service: 1300 659 210
- Full State Telephone Weather Service: 1900 955 363 (call charge applies)
- Coastal Waters Telephone Service: 1900 969 930 (call charge applies)
- VicEmergency Hotline: 1800 226 226
For more information, see:
Fuel stove use
Most camping stoves use fuels such as shellite, kerosene, methylated spirits or gas, all of which are highly flammable. They are potentially dangerous if not operated correctly. Stoves that use methylated spirits are the most suitable for use by students because methylated spirits has a low volatility.
Safety with fuels
All fuel containers must be clearly labelled so as not to be confused with other liquids.
- The stove must not be fuelled or used anywhere near naked flames and other heat sources or when it is too hot to touch.
- Stoves must always be fuelled and / or primed outside tents or buildings.
- Fuel bottles must be securely sealed and kept well away from the lighted stove and other heat sources.
- Methylated spirits is a low volatility fuel and does not always light straight away, and burns with an invisible flame. As such care should be taken to determine if the stove is alight.
- Only refill the burner when it is completely out, and has cooled sufficiently to be picked up with bare hands.
Student briefing prior to use
Proper instruction in the use of fuel stoves must be given to students, and the following safety precautions should be given and strictly observed:
- a designated ‘cooking area’ should be established
- setup of the stove should be demonstrated to first time users
- the stove must only be used in a stable position where it will not tip-over or move around
- fuelling, lighting and extinguishing the burner should be demonstrated to first time users
- lighted stoves must never be left unattended
- students must not walk across the area where stoves are in operation
- students should avoid passing hot liquids and hot food over the stove and other people
- demonstrate the use of ‘billy grips’ for removing the lid and pots
- demonstrate the refuelling procedure
- demonstrate using the temperature controlling device (including how to put out the flame)
- staff must carefully supervise students while stoves are being used.
Use in tents
- If possible, stoves should not be used in or close to tents. There are dangers in having a flame and fumes in such a confined space.
- If weather conditions are so poor that students must cook from their tent then the stove should be placed outside the tent, or in an annexe or vestibule of the tent.
- Tent doors and vents should be open to ensure good ventilation.
- Movement in the tent should be kept to a minimum, with legs positioned away from the stove.
- Stoves must be positioned away from flammable objects-particularly plastic groundsheets, rucksacks, tent flaps and sleeping bags.
- Lit stoves must not be left unattended or allowed to overheat - for example by using over-large billies or pans.
Australian Camps Association
Australian Climbing Instructors Association
Australian Professional Snowsports Instructors
Australian Ski Areas Association
Australian Ski Patrollers Association
Australian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation
Bus Association of Victoria
Council of Professional Teaching Associations of Victoria
Country Fire Authority
Department of Education and Training
Emergency and Security Management Unit
Equip Wilderness First Aid Institute
Life Saving Victoria
Maritime Safety - Transport Safety Victoria
Metropolitan Fire Brigade
St Johns Ambulance (Victoria)
State Emergency Service
Victorian Curriculum & Assessment Authority
Victorian Institute of Teaching