Dance, drama


​​​​​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 (DOCX, 600KB) 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 (DOCX, 488KB)​.

Activity scope

This guideline relates to student participation in dance and/or drama as an activity to support curriculum delivery. This may include lighting and sound, sets and props and special effects devices, including strobe lights and smoke/fog machines. All other pyrotechnics are prohibited.

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

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.

Low risk
Drama activities involving the teaching and performing of vocal and most physical drama activities.
Medium risk
Dance activities involving the teaching of dance skills, practicing, training and performing.
High risk
Dance or drama activities involving the use of lighting, special effects and some higher-risk props.

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.

Advice must be provided to parents, participants and students if a fog machine and/or strobe lighting is used for performances. Exposure to these may result in adverse reactions (e.g. asthma, epilepsy). The supporting students with asthma and/or at risk of anaphylaxis at school procedure must be consulted.

Compliance with the department’s guide to managing electrical equipment in departmental schools and workplaces​ is required if using electrical equipment.

The i​nfection control guideline​, industry standard hygiene practices and manufacturer instructions must be complied with to manage hair and make-up equipment safely and hygienically.​


Parent consent (DOCX, 306KB) is required for all activities conducted off-site and strongly recommended for high risk activities conducted on-site.


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

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.

Before the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be familiar with the contents of the CARA record
  • must inspect the intended location in order to identify variable risks, hazards and potential dangers.

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.

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.

For low risk activities:

  • At least one adult supervisor is required to be a registered teacher with knowledge of drama and its potential hazards or an adult supervisor, working under the direct supervision of a registered teacher, with competence (knowledge and skills) in drama.

For medium risk activities:

  • At least one adult supervisor is required to be a registered teacher with competence (knowledge and skills) in teaching dance or an adult supervisor, working under the direct supervision of a registered teacher, with CUA10113 – Certificate I in Dance or similar.

For high risk drama activities:

  • At least one adult supervisor is required to be a registered teacher with qualifications in drama (or equivalent demonstrated capability) and competence (knowledge and skills) in teaching drama or an adult supervisor, working under the direct supervision of a registered teacher, with qualification or current accreditation in 10192NAT – Certificate II in Performing Arts or similar, and competence (knowledge and skills) in teaching drama.

For high risk dance activities:

  • At least one adult supervisor is required to be a registered teacher with CUA10113 – Certificate I in Dance or similar and competence (knowledge and skills) in teaching dance or an adult supervisor, working under the direct supervision of a registered teacher, with CUA20113 – Certificate II in Dance or similar and competence (knowledge and skills) in teaching dance.

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, including sufficient space, adequate lighting and ventilation to ensure safe participation and that safety rules and procedures can be followed. This may be in a specialised facility (e.g. dance studio) or other suitable location. Undertake a reconnaissance of new or infrequently used locations to ascertain suitability.

A performance space that is flat, free from stones and loose objects, with even, firm and non-slip floors, which is large enough to accommodate the activity safely must be used. For dance activities, use a spring wooden floor if available.

Barres, if used, must be firmly secured and arranged to avoid congestion. Barre height must be appropriate to the abilities and physiques of the students.

Ceiling height must be adequate and free from obstruction/s (e.g. lighting, ceiling fans) if practicing lifting techniques.

Mirrors, if used, must be firmly attached (e.g. either fixed to the wall/s or securely supported).

Stage edges must be clearly visible and delineated, regardless of lighting.

Ensure props do not impede entry and exit to the stage.

For curriculum activities involving chemicals, consult the chemicals in curriculum activities notes. Note that all chemicals in schools must be managed in accordance with the department’s chemical management procedure.

If a CARA record is required in OneSchool, a summary of chemicals, plant, equipment and/or materials used in the activity must be provided by entering directly onto the CARA record in OneSchool or by attaching a summary document. For chemicals, see sample template on page 2 of the chemicals in curriculum activities notes.

Adhere to safe operating procedures for special effects and props (e.g. lighting, fog machine).

Ensure special effects and props (e.g. lighting, fog machine) consider the location and hazards (e.g. ventilation, proximity to flammable materials [e.g. stage curtains], volume of fog and overflow into depressions [e.g. stage pits], positioning [e.g. secure from being bumped]).

Participants must wear personal protective equipment as relevant (e.g. enclosed footwear when dancing on non-sprung wooden floors).

Equipment must be sized to match the ability and strength of students.

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

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

Ensure all equipment (e.g. costumes, lighting) is clean and safe to use.

A process for checking for damage for all equipment used in the activity must be established and employed.

If privately owned equipment is being used, principal approval and 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

Environmental conditions
Weather, surfaces, surrounds

The school's sun safet​y strategy must be followed.

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

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

Loud and/or continuous

Ensure the music volume is at a reasonable level for the supervisor’s instruction to be heard.

Implement strategies to minimise voice strain.

Facilities and equipment hazards Control measures


Remove any broken equipment from the activity surface immediately.


If power is required, ensure electrical or extension leads do not pose a tripping hazard, are tangle-free and connected correctly.

Ensure the power supply to the dimmers is turned off before undertaking the rigging and patching of lighting equipment.

Use safety chains/wires on all hung lights and strong secure stands for spotlights.

Faulty or dangerous equipment

Check performance area for splinters, rough edges, slippery surfaces and loose nails or screws.

Remove or fix broken props and/or sets before being put into storage.

Heights/falling objects

Assess and manage risks associated with working at heights.

Ensure ladders are industrial rated to more than 120 kgs, if used. Extension ladders should not be left in a vertical position after use and have a second person hold the bottom of the ladder.

Ensure equipment is stored safely (e.g. not piled too high).

Use mats when teaching lifting techniques.

Stage lighting and special effects

Ensure smoke machines are carefully managed to avoid allergic reactions to fog (smoke) and damage to voice from prolonged exposure. The risks associated with artificial fog may be increased by lack of ventilation and/or strenuous movement. Do not position smoke machines to blow directly at people.

Ensure participants are aware of the risk associated with flashing lights (e.g. strobes) especially to people prone to epilepsy.

Allow lights to cool before moving.

Student considerations Control measures


Students aware of the location of emergency and first-aid equipment.

Manual handling
Lifting equipment

Use correct manual handling processes when lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying.

Ensure sets are safe to move on and around.

Ensure students are aware of safety when selecting and using props (e.g. prop weight and using ropes).

Ensure appropriate equipment is used to lift heavy objects or materials (e.g. use of ramps).

Physical contact

Provide sufficient space for participants to reduce the risk of collisions.

Student issues
Student numbers, special needs, high risk behaviours, medical conditions

Ensure activities match students’ strength, flexibility and coordination.

Conduct warm-up/cool-down activities.

Continually monitor participants for signs of fatigue and exhaustion.

Students should wear appropriate clothing and footwear suitable to the dance activity and the floor surface.

Forward-plan to ensure rehearsal workload is not increased dramatically in preparation for performances to avoid the risk of overuse injury.

Reinforce the need for spatial awareness in relation to the stage edge, choir stands, working at heights and near stairs during rehearsals/performances to minimise the risk of trips and falls.


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Last updated 13 July 2022