Guideline review date: August 2017

The CARA planner (DOC, 423KB) must be used in conjunction with this guideline to determine additional risk hazards and controls within school-specific circumstances.

Activity scope

This guideline relates to student participation in orienteering as a curriculum activity, including skills development, training and competitions.

Orienteering is an activity in which participants navigate their way through an area using a map and compass. The aim is to find a series of control markers at natural and man-made features located on the map. Students can treat orienteering as a race to test their navigational skill or as a recreational activity.

For activities beyond the scope of this activity a separate risk assessment must be undertaken using the CARA generic template.

Medium risk: Orienteering in modified, semi-natural or managed terrain with clearly defined containment features (e.g. parkland).
High risk: Orienteering in natural, generally unmodified terrain with little, poorly-defined or no containment features (e.g. bushland).

All requirements are necessary for the activity to be conducted.

Mandatory requirements
Supervision requirements
Qualifications for supervisors

Medium risk level

  • A registered teacher with competence (knowledge and skills) in the teaching of orienteering.


  • An adult supervisor, working under established safety procedures and the direct supervision of a registered teacher, with Level 0 coaching accreditation from Orienteering Queensland.

High risk level

  • A registered teacher or an adult (working under the direct supervision of a registered teacher) with Level 1 coaching accreditation from Orienteering Queensland.

Note: Adult supervisors must have demonstrated current skills in leadership and group management, the technical components and safety requirement of orienteering and familiarity with the environment/course and its specific emergency procedures.

Requirements for facilities and equipment
  • First aid equipment and emergency management plan.
  • Equipment for each student/group of students and the activity leader, including:
    • an accurate orienteering map (i.e. larger scale (PDF, 65KB) appropriate for the age group)
    • a whistle or airhorn for an emergency signal
    • an orienteering compass (for bush orienteering)
    • timekeeping device (e.g. watch, mobile phone, stop watch).
  • Drinking water available (e.g. start/finish areas, individual water bottles).
  • Comfortable covered footwear and clothing appropriate to the terrain and weather conditions (e.g. shoes that can get wet, long pants, leg protectors, hat).

Hazards and controls

If any listed control measure below cannot be met:

  • modify the activity (or elements of it)


  • identify and implement alternative control measures to meet or exceed the level of safety.

Alternative or additional considerations, hazards and control measures must be included in the planning process.

Hazards Control measures
Considering environmental conditions

Seek permission and/or relevant permits from landowners and land-management agencies to enter their property and adhere to the requirements specified by the owner/agency

Survey the area and update the map where necessary

Access weather conditions (Bureau of Meteorology) for any relevant alerts in the area

Avoid setting controls at the top of cliffs or on steep slopes

Be aware of hazards when setting courses and monitor throughout the activity

Avoid setting courses that cross dangerous/deep water

Be aware of potential hazards from rising water

Provide students and supervisors with information about the risk associated with animals and vegetation that may be present on the course (e.g. cattle, native animals, poisonous plants, fallen trees) and how to navigate these

Recommend having staff roving the site/course, positioned at control points and/or on the extremities of the course, especially when students are beginners or where the area contains uncontrollable risks

Accessing facilities and using equipment

Ensure the teacher responsible for the activity has a copy of all courses to be used, including any updates made during the initial survey. These should be on-hand and available for the duration of the orienteering activity

When courses expose students to traffic and/or roads, ensure they have been instructed to be aware of vehicles and adhere to pedestrian road rules

Adhere to established practices regarding the use of insect repellent, outlined in insect viruses and allergies

Carry electronic and other equipment that can be damaged by water in water resistant containers

Managing student considerations

Ensure students are briefed on what to do if they become lost or injured

Ensure appropriate warm-up activities are conducted prior to the start of an event

Instruct students to proceed 'at their own pace' to avoid over exertion

Cease the activity if the conditions become unfavourable (e.g. extreme temperatures, thunderstorms)

Ensure the suitability and competency of students participating in the activity

Organise beginners to work in pairs or small groups

Follow a program of graded development in:

  • map and compass work
  • basic physical fitness
  • navigation skills including the use of handrails, attack points, aiming off, collecting features and catching features

Brief students on basic first aid procedures for biological hazards they may encounter

Include instruction to participants regarding:

  • relocation techniques
  • predetermined safety bearings (e.g. easily identifiable geographic feature) and how to use them
  • use of the emergency whistle
  • the set finishing time and the requirement to return at that time, whether or not they have completed the course
  • areas that are out of bounds

Ensure all start times are recorded and that all students report in to the finish, even if they have not completed their course

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Last updated 12 September 2019