Australian Adventure Activity Standards

The Australian Adventure Activity Standards: a national approach to safety outdoors

Source: The Australian Adventure Activity Standards

15 March 2016

Safety standards shouldn’t change just because you cross a state border. That is why state outdoors bodies have come together to develop a single set of national standards for outdoors adventure activities.

A new national standard

Adventure Activity Standards (AAS) are the outdoor sectors best practice guidelines used to manage risk and safety across a wide range of outdoor adventure activities. They are designed to be used by skilled outdoor leaders who are responsible for participants in these activities. Currently, each state and territory maintains its own set of standards (see the current AAS page). However, this has resulted in unnecessary duplication, lack of coordination among jurisdictions, and less sharing of expertise and experiences about how to best manage safety and risk outdoors.

The outdoor sector and government bodies responsible for AAS development have therefore decided to develop a single set of Australian Adventure Activity Standards.

The Australian AAS will have many benefits over the existing system:
A single set of standards will ensure outdoor professionals are pooling their expertise and experiences at a national level, resulting in higher quality standards and less chance of confusion.

Consistency across Australia will improve professional mobility, and reduce compliance costs for operators working in multiple jurisdictions.

The cost of standards development will be reduced.

Outdoor activity leaders will be able to spend less time keeping tabs on multiple standards, and more time taking people into Australia’s great outdoors.

Are these legally binding?

Like the current AAS in each jurisdiction, the Australian AAS will not be legally binding. Instead, they are intended to “provide the best practice framework for safe and responsible planning and delivery of outdoor adventure activities with dependent participants.”

Even though the AAS is not legally binding by law, compliance is often required by public and private land managers, regulatory agencies, insurers and others as a contractual or management condition. However, compliance with the AAS may assist in demonstrating that an operator has fulfilled their duty of care to activity participants.

The AAS is intended to be a flexible framework, which can guide decision-making across the great diversity of environments, activities and circumstances present in Australia.

What activities are covered?

Current state and territory standards cover the following activities:

  • Abseiling
  • Artificial climbing
  • Bushwalking
  • Canoeing & kayaking
  • Challenge ropes
  • Four-wheel driving
  • Horse trail riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Recreational angling
  • Caving
  • River rafting
  • Rock climbing
  • Snow Sports
  • Surfing
  • Trail Bike riding
  • Archery
  • Canyoning
  • Sea kayaking
  • Surf kayaking
  • Snorkelling
  • Wildlife swims
  • Scuba diving

During the next three years, these activities will all be brought within the Australian AAS framework. Additional activities may be added as needed to reflect current practice.

For more information go to the about pageFAQ page or download the 2 page FAQ flyer.


Source: Bushwalking Victoria

Bushwalking Victoria statement on Australian Adventure Activity Standards

Bushwalking Clubs have a long history of providing safe and enjoyable trips for their members. Clubs provide a sound standard of care to trip participants using experience-based training and resources.

Volunteer trip leaders are appointed and overseen by clubs. They ensure their bushwalks are safe by using and updating a variety of resources on topics including trip planning, trip management, leadership, bushcraft, navigation, first aid and handling emergencies and by drawing on the depth of experience that exists within clubs.

Bushwalking Clubs provide a safe and supportive environment for people to learn and develop bushwalking skills with guidance and assistance from members with more experience. Group sizes on bushwalking club trips group are varied according to the difficulty of the trip and the skill levels of participants.

An existing Victorian Bushwalking Adventure Activity Standard dating from 2004 was not endorsed by volunteer bushwalkers and is not used by them. However, compliance with this standard is a licence condition for commercial tour operators using public land in Victoria.

In 2016 Outdoors Victoria commenced writing new “Australian Adventure Activity Standards” (AAAS) for over twenty adventure activities including bushwalking, camping, cycle touring, mountain biking, rock climbing and recreational angling. New “AAAS Core standards” are being written that are referenced across all activities.

Outdoors Victoria states that the AAAS are “voluntary”, “are not directly binding on any person or organisation and have not direct legal force” and “are only advisory in nature and may not be suitable for all contexts” (ref AAAS Core Standards Disclaimer).
The AAAS are not enacted or authorised by any Act of Parliament or other legislative instrument.

We consider that most of the content of the AAAS Core and Bushwalking Standards is either not relevant to or far exceeds the needs of volunteer bushwalking activities.

The Minister for Sport, John Eren MP, has advised that there is no current intention to mandate the use of the AAAS on behalf of relevant jurisdictions, including the Department of Health and Human Services, Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning.

The Minister for Energy, Environment & Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio MP, has advised that on their own, the standards have no legal status and there is no requirement to comply with them.

Volunteer bushwalkers cannot and should not be required to comply with the Core AAAS, Bushwalking AAAS or Camping AAAS. Any attempts in the future to do so will be vigorously opposed, as will any other similar restrictions or impediments that would enable commercial interests to override the rights of community-based clubs to access and enjoy public land.

Community based volunteer bushwalking trip leaders will continue to responsibly manage trip safety by using and contributing to the body of knowledge that informs and supports safe and enjoyable bushwalking.


Source: Bushwalking Victoria

Volunteer bushwalkers are NOT required to comply with the AAAS

Bushwalking Victoria has analysed the AAAS Core and Bushwalking Standards and consider that most of the content is either not relevant to or far exceeds the needs of volunteer bushwalking activities.

The AAAS are designated as “voluntary” and are not enacted or authorised by any Act of Parliament or other legislative instrument.

The Minister for Sport, John Eren MP, has advised that there is no current intention to mandate the use of the AAAS on behalf of relevant jurisdictions, including the Department of Health and Human Services, Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning.

The Minister for Energy, Environment & Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio MP, has advised that on their own, the standards have no legal status and there is no requirement to comply with them.

Volunteer bushwalkers cannot and should not be required to comply with the Core AAAS, Bushwalking AAAS or Camping AAAS.

Any attempts in the future to do so will be vigorously opposed, as will any other similar restrictions or impediments that would enable commercial interests to override the rights of community-based clubs to access and enjoy public land.

Community based volunteer bushwalking trip leaders will continue to responsibly manage trip safety by using and contributing to the body of knowledge that informs and supports safe and enjoyable bushwalking.

Our full statement on the AAAS is here: http://bit.ly/BWV-AAAS-Statement

AAAS Forum – 28 November 2017

A forum to update President’s and committee members of Bushwalking Clubs was held on 28 November 2017 at Melbourne Bushwalkers Club Rooms. The following documentation relate to the presentations given:

Petition

Thanks to many people who have contacted their local Member for Parliament to raise concerns with the likely impacts of Australian Adventure Activity Standards on volunteer community-based bushwalkers.

Many MPs and Minister Eren have responded stating that they don’t believe that the AAAS will impact our bushwalking. However, our most recent advice is that this is not the case. Our ongoing concerns are:

The “standards” specify over 20 “national competencies” that are designed for professional operators. It is unrealistic and inappropriate to expect volunteer bushwalkers to attempt to prove they meet these competencies.

The standards are NOT voluntary if land managers, courts and insurance companies all consider that they apply to volunteer bushwalkers. The AAAS currently explicitly apply to volunteer bushwalking leaders and clubs.

Increased compliance burdens and liabilities resulting from these standards are likely to result in community-based clubs reducing their trips program or even folding.

Our simple solution is to include the following words in the standard(s):

“Compliance with this standard may be deemed mandatory for commercial adventure activity operators. This standard does not apply to volunteers.”

We have launched this online petition so clubs, members and the general public can raise concerns about the AAAS directly with Premier Andrews and Minister Eren.

Please circulate this link to anyone who may be interested in participating.