1.1 Introduction to the adventure activity standard
The Australian Adventure Activity Standard (AAAS) and associated Good Practice Guides (GPG’s) provides essential information relating to the safe and responsible planning and delivery of adventure activities with dependent participants. The documents are designed as a voluntary good-practice framework for adventure activity providers and include guidance on matters of safety, compliance and service delivery as well as environmental and cultural protections.
Within the AAAS and GPG’s, a provider refers to any organisation, business, community group, government agency, school or others who organise and lead adventure activities with dependent participants.
Dependent participants are those who are reliant on the activity leaders to support their participation in an adventure activity. The degree of dependence of participants may vary based on, for example, the participants age, maturity, competence or skill; and/or the challenges and circumstances of the activity and/or the environment. Each provider needs to determine if they are working with dependent participants.
The guidance for adventure activities is comprised of several documents:
The adventure activity documents are developed to present cumulatively more specific information. Providers, managers or those responsible and accountable for the design, planning and delivery of adventure activities should determine how they use the AAAS and GPG’s based on an understanding of appropriate practices, individual circumstances, and need. Where applicable, it is recommended that providers periodically check the AAAS, and GPG’s and draw on these in the development and review of their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s).
Activity providers are encouraged to obtain independent professional and legal advice in relation to their obligations and duties in delivering adventure activities and should reference the relevant laws to the area in which they intend to undertake the adventure activity.
1.2 Guidance for using the Australian Adventure Activity Standard
This Standard and the Good Practice Guides identify essential considerations that help providers apply a systematic approach to the management, planning and delivery of adventure activities. They do this through a structured framework that outlines the importance of:
Developing contextually relevant risk management processes and procedures
Undertaking planning to design, prepare and support adventure activity delivery
Identifying and understanding the abilities and needs of participants and the importance of timely communications
Ensuring that equipment and environments are appropriate and fit for purpose, and
Selecting leaders with appropriate skills and experience to lead the activity.
While the components of the AAAS framework are discussed separately in the documents, they are all inter-related. Providers are encouraged to consider how they address each component of the framework, and how these work together in their own adventure activity management system/s.
Risk is defined as the ‘effect of uncertainty on objectives’ and can result in positive and negative outcomes. The management of risk involves systematically:
identifying the range of factors and influences that might impact on achieving objectives, and
putting in place coordinated activities to direct and/or control these factors (adapted from AS/NZS ISO 31000: 2018 Risk Management Guidelines).
The management of risk and the development of safety systems must focus on all stages of the design, planning, preparation and delivery of adventure activities.
Risk management systems must
be flexible, adaptive and responsive.
While the AAAS identify a range of potential risks, these
may not be fully comprehensive. The management of risk may include addressing
aspects not identified in the Standard. These could include, but not be limited
to such things as additional site-specific hazards.
2.2 Risk management requirements
Risk management is a commitment and process that must be integrated into all aspects of the providers’ governance, management and operations. This ensures risk management is embedded into the policies and practices of the provider and covers all the factors that contribute to risk, not just those occurring during the delivery of the adventure activity itself.
A risk management plan identifies hazards and assesses risks for an activity and specifies how these will be managed. Risk management plans must be documented for each activity.
The development and implementation of risk management involves several steps. These include:
Specifying the context of the adventure
Identifying people, equipment and environmental hazards
Assessing who or what might be harmed, how and
to what extent
Determining the level of risk considered
acceptable to the participants or client organisation and the activity provider
Analysing the risks and selecting appropriate
risk controls. This informs decisions on what risk management controls are
required for the context and objectives
Implementing the controls
Having a communication structure to inform
people of their relevant responsibilities
Actively monitoring risks and the effectiveness
Modifying risk controls as and when necessary.
Effective risk management also includes ensuring compliance
with all relevant laws and/or regulations that apply to the activity and the
context. It should be noted these may
change over time.
2.3 Incident reporting
There must be a process for reporting incidents and near misses.
Some incidents will also need to be reported to relevant government authorities
(e.g. Police, local Work Health and Safety, Insurers, Land/Water managers).
Information on incidents and near misses should be collected and assessed.
Providers should also periodically review other incidents related to adventure
activities they conduct.
Incident and near miss information should be used to develop risk management
strategies and to inform risk treatment, program design and delivery.
Whether preparing for one, or a series of activities, the
management, design and delivery of adventure activities requires good planning.
Planning allows providers to:
meet their own objectives (e.g. to comply with
laws, provide enjoyable/ educative experiences, sustain financial viability);
contribute to the objectives of their members,
clients or partners (e.g. achieve personal goals, social interaction,
leadership/ skill development).
There must be a process
in place for the development and approval of activity plans that suit the
context and purpose.
3.2 Activity plans
Activity plans help bring to life the purpose and objectives
of the activity. They also inform decisions made before, during and after the
Inclusions in the activity plan will vary but should include:
Purpose: What is the purpose of the activity?
Participants: Who are the participants and why
is this activity relevant?
Location/s: Are the location and conditions
suitable for the activity?
Risk: What are the risks involved and how will
these be managed?
Emergency Management: How to respond in case of
Logistics: What needs to be organised (e.g.
permission, transport, equipment)?
Leaders: Who will lead the activity and what competencies
and currency do they need?
Contingency: How to respond if things change?
3.3 Cultural, historical and environmental values
Consideration and respect for the cultural, spiritual and historical significance of sites, places and people should be factored into adventure providers’ planning and delivery of services. Considerations may include:
recognising and giving due regard to the
feelings, wishes or rights of others
seeking information and/or permission from
native title holders, Traditional Owners and/or other land managers
respecting and applying appropriate cultural
The needs and abilities of participants must be considered at every stage of adventure
activity design, management, planning and delivery.
Considerations relating to participants should include:
taking reasonable steps to understand the abilities
and needs of individual participants, group and/or client organisation
using understanding of participants to design,
plan and deliver an appropriate program
effectively communicating timely information
about the activity or program and its requirements
implementing a process to obtain relevant details
on pre-existing health or personal conditions, informed consent and acceptance
of risk to participate before the activity begins
meeting any legislative or legal compliance
expectations relating to participant health and safety. Some examples:
vulnerable person and child safety protection laws and regulations, privacy
laws, anti-smoking/ drug laws, sex discrimination laws and regulations, allergy
and anaphylaxis safety for minors’ laws etc.
Providers have a responsibility to understand the
environments in which they are operating. Further, they have a responsibility
to implement practices that address principles of environmental sustainability.
To maximise safety, relevant environmental conditions and
impacts must be considered in risk
management and activity plans.
These conditions include:
weather and emerging weather variations
local flora and/or fauna hazards or impacts
severe weather and fire weather warnings
bushfire and fire danger rating.
identify and monitor weather and environmental conditions that might trigger modification,
evacuation or other relevant response.
This Standard provides requirements and recommendations relating to the safe and responsible delivery of adventure activities with dependent participants. Further information, description and detail can be found in the Core Good Practice Guide and Activity Specific Good Practice Guides. It is recommended that providers refer to these for additional support.