In a recent media article in The Age, claims were made that the Australian Adventure Activity Standards (Australian AAS) would increase red tape for some groups.
Our view is that safety practices for providers engaged in activities with dependent participants is not ‘red tape’ but essential safety and risk management.
The Australian AAS will reduce red tape
The Australian AAS is a harmonisation of the five current State AAS, into one set of guidelines for the entire nation, which for many providers will reduce red tape.
The Victorian AAS have been in existence for over 13 years. Updating the AAS would not change existing arrangements because the Australian AAS still only applies where dependent participants are involved.
A dependent participant is a person owed a duty of care by the activity provider who is reliant upon the activity leaders for supervision, guidance or instruction, to support the person’s participation in an activity. Where an activity involves experienced participants, the Australian AAS would not be relevant. (Refer to this article for more detail on clarifying dependent participants).
There are no proposed changes to existing public land arrangements in Victoria
The current AAS is occasionally referred to by governments as a resource to improve public safety. For many years Victorian outdoor activity providers, such as Licensed Tour Operators and Schools have been required, via regulation, to utilise the Victorian AAS or The Department of Education Safety Guidelines (SGEO), when using public land.
The Victorian AAS has been in existence for 13+ years, and has not caused access issues for community or volunteer-led clubs in that time. Recent assurances in a letter from the minister for the Environment, Lily D’Ambrosio MP, who oversees DELWP and Parks Victoria, outlined her continued support for the club community walking on public land.
We therefore have every confidence that existing arrangements will not change for community or volunteer-led clubs.
There is no requirement for formal training courses or qualifications in the Australian AAS
Where dependent participants are involved, the Australian AAS place the onus on providers to determine what skills and knowledge (i.e. competence) leaders require. This is because the activity context can vary significantly.
Because leaders can acquire their experience in many different ways there is no requirement for completing formal training courses or qualifications in the Australian AAS.
There are different ways to ensure leaders have the right competence: Training courses and qualifications is one way or ‘peer recognition and verification,’ which is already widely used by volunteer groups, is another way.