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

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
  • Horse trail riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Recreational angling
  • Caving
  • Rock climbing
  • Surfing
  • Sea kayaking
  • Surf kayaking
  • Snorkelling

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.

Outdoors SA