Guideline review date: 28 October 2021

This guideline is provided to support schools in implementing the managing risks in school curriculum activities procedure.

The CARA planner must be used for the specific school context in conjunction with this guideline considering additional risks, hazards and controls and including environmental, facility, equipment and student considerations.

For activities beyond the scope of this guideline, complete a CARA record using the CARA generic template.

Activity scope

This guideline relates to student participation in bushwalking in mainly natural areas as an activity to support curriculum delivery during daylight hours.

Depending on the scope of this activity, other risk assessments may be required when planning. Curriculum activities encompassing more than one CARA guideline (e.g. bushwalking while camping) must comply with the requirements of all CARA guidelines appropriate to the activity.

Schools should consider conducting this activity at a Department of Education Outdoor and Environmental Education Centre (OEEC) and consult with OEEC centre staff for risk assessment requirements.

For activities conducted at a non-Department of Education venue, and/or when engaging external expertise, request written risk assessment advice and attach it to this CARA record. For activities conducted off-site, schools must comply with the school excursions procedure.

Risk level

Medium risk level
Bushwalking activities in controlled areas up to and including class 3 tracks as defined in the Australian Standards 2156.1-2001: walking tracks—classification and signage.

Class 1

Tracks provide opportunities for a large number of visitors, including those with reduced mobility, to traverse the natural environment easily. They provide high level of interpretation and facilities. Steps allowed only with ramp access. Users need no previous experience and are expected to exercise normal care regarding their personal safety.

Class 2

Tracks provide opportunities for large numbers of visitors to walk easily in natural environments. They provide moderate to high level interpretation and facilities. They are generally on low gradients. Users need no previous experience and are expected to exercise normal care regarding their personal safety.

Class 3

Tracks provide opportunities for visitors to walk in slightly modified natural environments requiring a moderate level of fitness. They provide low level of interpretation and facilities. Users need no bush walking experience and a minimum level of specialised skills. Users may encounter natural hazards such as steps and slopes, unstable surfaces and minor water crossings. They are responsible for their own safety.

High risk level
Bushwalking activities in intermediate areas and uncontrolled areas (class 4 to class 6 tracks as defined in the Australian Standard 2156.1-2001: walking tracks—classification and signage).

Class 4

Tracks provide opportunities for visitors to explore and discover relatively undisturbed natural environments along defined and distinct tracks with minimal (if any) facilities. They provide minimal interpretation and facilities. Users can expect opportunities for solitude and few encounters with others. Users require a moderate level of specialised skills such as navigation skills. Users may require maps and navigation equipment to successfully complete the track. Users need to be self-reliant, particularly in regard to emergency first aid and possible weather hazards.

Class 5

Tracks provide opportunities for visitors with outdoor skills to discover the natural environment. Visitors require a higher degree of specialised skills such as navigation skills. Users may require maps and navigation equipment to successfully complete the track. Users need to be self-reliant, particularly in regard to emergency first aid and possible weather hazards.

Class 6

Users require previous experience in the outdoors and a high level of specialised skills such as navigational skills. Users will generally require a map and navigation equipment to complete the track or route, which are usually mountainous or in remote areas. Users need to be self-reliant, particularly in regard to emergency first aid and possible weather hazards.

Activity requirements

If any requirement cannot be met, the activity must not occur.

If any other safety recommendation cannot be met, modify the activity (or elements of it) and/or identify and use the hierarchy of controls to implement alternative control measures to meet or exceed the minimum safety standard.

All risk levels

Reference to Australian adventure activity standard, bushwalking Australian adventure activity good practice guide is required when planning this activity.

Prior consultation is required with local authority (e.g. Department of Environment and Science [for track closures] and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services) for local advice, emergency support mechanisms and additional supervision requirements to ensure participant and public safety.

Permission/permits are required to be obtained from land managers (e.g. QGPF, local councils or private landholders), if applicable.>



Principals make final supervision decisions for the activity. Sufficient adult supervision must be provided to manage the activity safely (including emergency situations).

For activities with students with a medical condition or disability that may impact on safety during the activity, consultation with parents is required prior to allocating supervision to determine the impact of students’ medical condition or disability on safety during the activity.

The number of adult supervisors required to fulfil emergency and supervision roles must consider the nature of the activity, students’ ages, abilities and specialised learning, access and/or health needs. The bushwalking Australian adventure activity good practice guide should be consulted for supervision ratios.

Before the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be familiar with the contents of the CARA record
  • must assess weather conditions, and obtain accurate information on tides, depths, currents and other expected water conditions (if applicable) and conditions of the terrain prior to undertaking the activity, inspecting the intended location in order to identify variable risks, hazards and potential dangers (e.g. fire or flash flooding susceptibility and potential flying items during strong winds).

During the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be readily identifiable
  • must closely monitor students with health support needs
  • must comply with control measures from the CARA record and adapt as hazards arise
  • must suspend the activity if the conditions become unfavourable (e.g. poor visibility, extreme temperatures, thunderstorms).

Supervisor qualifications

Principals make final decisions in determining supervisor capability (competence, relevance and currency) and are responsible for encouraging and enabling school-based activity supervisors to raise their qualifications to improve safety standards.

All adult supervisors must comply with the working with children authority—blue cards procedure and be able to identify, and respond to, risks or hazards that may emerge during the activity.

A registered teacher must be appointed to maintain overall responsibility for the activity.

At least one adult supervisor is required to be:

Medium risk level

High risk level

Facilities and equipment

The qualified adult supervisor of the activity, in consultation with the principal, determines the requirements for facilities and equipment appropriate to the local context.

Location must be suitable for the activity being undertaken. Undertake a reconnaissance of new or infrequently used locations to ascertain suitability. Consider the geography when planning the route, to avoid walking along cliff edges (slipping hazard) and below cliff faces (falling rocks). Plan alternative routes in case of emergency situations (e.g. bushfire, thunderstorm, extreme temperature, king tide).

Participants must wear personal protective equipment as relevant (e.g. long-sleeved shirt and pants for all weather extremes, wind and rain jacket and suitable enclosed footwear).

Personal equipment for all participants required including, but not limited to:

  • individual drinking containers with each participant carrying 2–3 litres of water for each day
  • personal food supplies in excess of the requirements of the planned walk, including emergency rations for 24 hours more than the initial planned duration
  • insect repellent, sunscreen and personal hygiene items as necessary
  • toileting equipment (if applicable)
  • a bag for rubbish and
  • waterproof containers for all equipment that can be damaged by water.

All equipment must be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Establish and employ a process for checking for damage for all equipment used in the activity.

A retirement schedule must be developed to replace equipment by manufacturers' nominated expiry date or when significant wear causes a hazard.

If privately owned equipment is being used, Principal approval, owner consent/insurance details must be obtained prior to the activity.

Hazards and controls

Further to those listed, include any additional hazards and control measures considering the local context of the activity.

Environmental hazards Control measures
Animal bites/diseases

Observe wildlife from a safe distance.

Instruct students not to feed wildlife and how to respond to approaching wildlife.

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

Environmental conditions

The school's sun safety strategy must be followed.

Brief all participants on the potential hazards (e.g. thorned flora, steep slopes).

Constantly monitor surroundings for weather, terrain and wildlife hazards during the bushwalk.

Follow the managing excessive heat in schools guidelines when participating in very hot or extreme heat conditions.

Monitor participants for cold related illness (e.g. hypothermia) in cold weather conditions.

Ensure drink breaks occur regularly. Make water available for individual participants between drink breaks.

Student considerations Control measures
Injury Students aware of the location of emergency and first-aid equipment.
Physical exertion
Exhaustion and fatigue

Conduct appropriate lead-up activities.

Participants able to easily carry the overall backpack weight.

Establish rest stops, considering the age and fitness level of students.

Continually monitor participants for signs of fatigue and exhaustion.

Adopt system of signals to clearly communicate the need for assistance if in difficulty.

Student issues
Separation from the group
High risk behaviours

Maintain contact between all group members through regular checks on group numbers.

Implement procedures (e.g. buddy system, roll marking mechanisms) to account for all participants.

Appoint designated group roles (e.g. leader, group member, tail end).


Have students wear easily identifiable clothing (e.g. high visibility rash vest).

Ensure staff can easily recognise those students with health support needs and are familiar with their needs.​​


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Last updated 06 September 2023