​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 document relates to student participation in orienteering, including skills development, training and competitions, an activity to support curriculum delivery.

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.

Depending on the scope of this activity, other risk assessments may be required when planning. Curriculum activities encompassing more than 1 CARA guideline (e.g. orienteering while cycling: mountain bike, off road​) 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.

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).

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 hierarc​hy of controls​ to implement alternative control measures to meet or exceed the minimum safety standard.

Reference to Australian Adventure Activity Standard, Bushwalking Australian adventure activity good practice guide (PDF, 486KB) is required when planning this activity.

Prior consultation is required with local authority (e.g. Department of Environment and Sc​ience [for track closures] and Rural Fire Service) 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. Department of Environment and Science​, local councils or private landholders), if applicable.​​


Parent consent (DOCX, 306KB) is required for all activities conducted off-site.

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).

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 (PDF, 486KB) 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)
  • must roam 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.

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

  • a registered teacher with competence (knowledge and skills) in the teaching of orienteering; or
  • an adult supervisor, working under the direct supervision of a registered teacher, with Orienteering Instructor coaching accreditation from Orienteering Queensland or equivalent.

High risk level

  • a registered teacher, or other adult supervisor working under the direct supervision of a registered teacher, with Learn and Play coaching accreditation from Orienteering Queensland or equivalent.

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. Survey the area and update the map where necessary.

Consider the geography when planning the route to avoid walking along cliff edges (slipping hazard) and below cliff faces (falling rocks). Avoid setting controls at the top of cliffs or on steep slopes or that cross dangerous/deep water. Be aware of hazards when setting courses (e.g. potential hazards from rising water) and monitor throughout the activity. Plan alternative routes in case of emergency situations (e.g. bushfire, thunderstorm, extreme temperature, king tide).

Ensure a copy of all courses to be used, including any updates made during the initial survey, are available for the duration of the orienteering activity.

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:

  • drinking water in individual drinking containers (e.g. available at start/finish areas)
  • insect repellent, sunscreen and personal hygiene items as necessary
  • toileting equipment (if applicable)
  • a plastic (or reusable) bag for rubbish
  • waterproof containers for all equipment that can be damaged by water.

Equipment for each student/group of students and the activity leader, including:

  • an accurate orienteering map (i.e. larger scale (PDF, 66KB) 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).

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.

 Common 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
Stings, poisoning, infection

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
Weather, surfaces, surrounds

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.

Facilities and equipment hazards Control measures

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.

Student considerations Control measures

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

Physical exertion
Exhaustion and fatigue

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

Ensure drink breaks occur regularly.

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

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

Conduct appropriate lead-up activities (e.g. map and compass work; basic physical fitness; and 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 (e.g. ticks, leeches)
  • appropriate behaviours to help keep themselves safe during the activity, including procedures if they become lost or injured
  • appropriate toileting procedures for the duration of the event
  • 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.

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 when participating off-site.

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

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


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.


This information is developed and distributed on this website by the State of Queensland for use by Queensland state schools only.

Use or adaptation of, or reliance on, this information by persons or organisations other than the State of Queensland is at their sole risk. All users who use, adapt or rely on this information are responsible for ensuring by independent verification its accuracy, currency and appropriateness to their particular circumstances. The State of Queensland makes no representations, either express or implied, as to the suitability of this information to a user's particular circumstances.

To the full extent permitted by law, the State of Queensland disclaims all responsibility and liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages and costs arising from the use or adaptation of, or reliance on, this information.

Links to external websites are for convenience only and the State of Queensland has not independently verified the information on the linked websites. It is the responsibility of users to make their own decisions about the accuracy, currency, reliability and correctness of the information at these external websites.

Last updated 14 July 2022