Water polo


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​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 water polo as an activity to support curriculum delivery.

Note: activities with primary school students are to be strictly non-contact.

Depending on the scope of this activity, other risk assessments may be required when planning. Curriculum activities encompassing more than one CARA guideline 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.

For activities conducted as part of representative school sport programs, schools should consult with Queensland School Sport.

Risk level​​​​

High risk
Water polo activities involving skill development and/or games in a swimming pool.

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.

​​Confirmation of student water safety and swimming competence is required prior to participation. The process is determined by the school and must consider the specific aquatic environments in which the activity will take place. Consult the sequence of competency water safety and swimming education program for support in determining age-appropriate suitability.

Competition rules and procedures with additional or more stringent safety requirements must take precedence.

Qualified coaches and officials must be in control of competition games.

All risk levels



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' 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.

At least one adult supervisor must be appropriately dressed to perform an immediate rescue. At no time, should students be relied upon to recover a person in difficulty.

Before the activity, all adult supervisors must:

  • be familiar with the contents of the CARA record
  • assess weather conditions prior to undertaking the activity, inspecting the intended location in order to identify variable risks, hazards and potential dangers.

During the activity, all adult supervisors must:

  • be readily identifiable
  • closely monitor students with health support needs
  • ensure all students in the water are in sight of at least one adult supervisor at all times
  • comply with control measures from the CARA record and adapt as hazards arise
  • suspend the activity if the conditions become unfavourable
  • not conduct free swim/diving activities.

Closely monitor all dive entries.

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:

  • a registered teacher with qualifications in HPE (or equivalent demonstrated capability) and with competence (knowledge and skills) in teaching water polo, or 
  • an adult supervisor, working under the direct supervision of a registered teacher, with development coach accreditation from Water Polo Australia for the current season.

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 adequate lighting to ensure safe participation and that safety rules and procedures can be followed. Consult the minimum standards in the FINA facilites rules.

Venue must have appropriate toilet and change facilities, accessible to students with disability as required.  Consult the health and safety checklist—swimming pools for guidance in identifying hazards. 

Buoyant and rescue aids (e.g. lightweight poles, water noodles or ropes with a float attached) must be readily available at locations within the venue.

Mouthguards and water polo caps for activities when there is a high risk of contact.

Slip mats/tape to secure any cords on the floor (e.g. shot clock, score board). 

Each student must provide their own towel.

 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

Biological hazards
Body fluids (e.g. blood, saliva, sweat)

Manage bodily substances (e.g. blood) and open wounds before, during and after the activity. Consult infection control guidelines and Queensland Health's exclusion periods for infectious conditions poster (PDF, 1.5MB) for hygienic practices and first aid.

Follow appropriate cleaning and hygiene management practices when using shared equipment (departmental staff search 'practical subjects cleaning equipment' in OnePortal).

Environmental conditions
Weather, sun, humidity

Assess weather (Bureau of Meteorology) and environmental conditions prior to participating outside. Suspend the activity if the conditions become unfavourable (e.g. poor visibility, thunderstorms).

The school's sun safety strategy must be followed if participating outside.

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.

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

Facilities and equipment hazards Control measures

Electrical hazards
Burns, electrocution

If power is required on the pool deck:

  • use portable safety switches, where there are no residual current devices installed;
  • do not use extension leads, electrical equipment and cords;
  • use battery powered or non-powered equipment.

Faulty or dangerous equipment

Check equipment for damage.

Clean and store all equipment safely and securely when not in use.

Student considerations
Control measures

Physical contact
accidental ‘bumping’

Manage injuries according to established procedures. If in doubt, the student should not play after injury until medically cleared.

Enforce rules to prevent rough play. Consult Play by the Rules (conduct and behaviour resources).

Physical exertion
Exhaustion and fatigue

Conduct warm-up/cool-down activities.

Continually monitor participants for signs of fatigue and exhaustion.

Slip, trip, fall

Place mats on the floor around change room/bathroom entryway.

Student issues

Wear caps to avoid entanglement.

Remove accessories (e.g. jewellery, lanyards) before participating.

Ensure fingernails, hair and clothing (e.g. pockets) do not interfere with the activity.


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Last updated 06 September 2023