Emergency and Risk Management

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Purpose of this policy

To ensure school excursions are conducted safely.

Prerequisite policy


Principals must ensure that appropriate emergency and risk management planning is undertaken for excursions.

Emergency planning

The emergency management planning in schools extends to and incorporates school excursions.

All excursion staff and where appropriate, students, must be familiar with emergency procedures for each excursion.

Planning must cover arrangements if the excursion needs to be cancelled, recalled or altered (for example, due to forecast severe weather conditions, changes to DFAT travel advice or an emergency). This should include arrangements for communicating with parents.

Note that principals are responsible for negotiating terms and conditions with any third parties.

Excursions with an overnight component (including camps, interstate, overseas), travel via water or air or adventure activities must have an emergency response plan see: Department resources.

When staying at a residential campsite, emergency procedures should be explained as soon as practicable after arrival and a trial evacuation exercise should be carried out immediately to ensure that procedures are appropriate and staff and students are familiar with them.

Overseas Travel Requirements

The Smartraveller website is the Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), travel advisory and consular assistance service. This site also provides useful travel information and tips see: Smartraveller

Schools planning and conducting overseas excursions must ensure that they:

  • comply with any DFAT travel advice current for the proposed location; 
  • subscribe to receive automatic travel advice updates from the Smartraveller website both prior to the excursion and when overseas;
  • review their risk assessment if there are any changes to the DFAT travel advice. This will require the Principal to consider whether there is a need to cancel, recall or alter excursion arrangements.

This table describes the four levels of DFAT travel advice with the required actions and considerations.

Level     Required Actions and Considerations
exercise normal safety precautions.

‘exercise a high degree of caution’ - requires additional attention to planning and assessment of risk.


‘reconsider your need to travel’ – would generally mean excursions should be postponed or cancelled as the educational goals are unlikely to justify the risks.  Any decision to continue would require a detailed risk assessment and treatment plan together with detailed contingency planning.

4 ‘do not travel’ – principals must cancel or postpone the excursion.

Note: Before travelling overseas, schools should check the Smartraveller website itself to ensure that they have the most up-to-date travel advice for the proposed countries and locations to be visited.

For overseas travel risk management guidelines and a downloadable sample risk assessment register see: Risk Examples for Schools

Emergency notifications

To ensure accurate information is available for emergency services, schools must notify the Department of:

  • any approved school camp or excursion, at least three weeks beforehand 
  • student free days, at least one term in advance
  • the dismissal of school before 2.30pm on the last day of Term 4, at least one term in advance.

All Victorian government schools must use the Student Activity Locator for this purpose. Independent schools are also able to access the Student Activity Locator to register camps and excursions.

A user guide has been developed to help schools complete the online form, see: Student Activity Locator User Guide. Non-government schools should log on using their 'NG' user id.


Parents or carers should be advised of the telephone numbers (both during and outside school hours) for the designated school contact person in the event of an emergency. 

During the excursion, if parents have reason to believe an emergency may have occurred (such as a media report) they should be informed that in the first instance they should call the contact person and not personnel on the excursion as this will keep the telephone lines free at the excursion site.

Arrangements for communicating with parents in the event of an emergency, cancellation or recall of the excursion must be made.

Consent forms must remain at the school with the designated school contact person and copies of each form must be taken on the excursion by the teacher in charge.

In the event of an emergency, accident or injury:

  • staff on the excursion should:
    • take emergency action
    • immediately notify the school principal.  
  • the principal should make arrangements for the Department’s Incident Support and Operations Centre (ISOC) to be telephoned on 1800 126 126.

See: Emergency and Management Support within Related policies

Medical insurance for overseas excursions

The cost of medical and hospital treatment is high in some countries, therefore all students and staff should take out travel and medical insurance for the entire overseas trip.


Emergency procedures should include the effects of an emergency on student supervision in the event of excursion staff being required to assist injured students or to go for help.

Students who may have difficulty communicating in an emergency because of age or disability should wear identity tags on excursions.

Fire danger or ban

Principals may need to review planned excursions ahead of forecast days of significant fire risk or total fire ban days and liaise with the region about whether the excursion should be cancelled.

If an excursion is not cancelled, special fire safety precautions may be required, depending on the location.

Schools must ensure they consider the risk of bushfire at the excursion location when conducting their risk assessment and developing their emergency response plan. Schools can be guided by their own Emergency Management Plan and the Department's guidance on bushfire procedures.

On days determined Code Red by the Emergency Management Commissioner, all camps in the CFA fire district determined Code Red must be cancelled.

Additional excursion equipment

Principals should consider providing communication equipment to be used in emergencies.

First aid

Excursion staff must have first aid and emergency response knowledge appropriate to the excursion location, the students involved and the activities undertaken by each group of students. For excursions involving adventure activities or locations without readily accessible medical support,  at least one staff member responsible for each group of students must have first aid training. Further information about appropriate first aid training is provided at the Department's HRWeb First Aid.

Staff must also have a first aid kit appropriate to the excursion location, the activities undertaken and the specific needs of participating students with health or medical conditions.

Risk management

An assessment of excursion risks must be undertaken.

For excursions with an overnight component (including camps, interstate, overseas), travel via water or air, or adventure activities an excursion risk assessment plan must be provided which includes consideration of risks across the entire excursion (including transportation, activities undertaken, excursion venues and staff or student illness) and any significant financial risks to the school and/or parents (for example if an excursion needs to be cancelled).

Venue managers and activity providers should be consulted in the preparation of the school’s risk management plan and where appropriate, the risk management plans of venues or activity providers should be used to inform the school risk assessment process.

Related policies

Department resources

Other resources