WHS: Events (Youth Events, Excursions, Camps & other Activities)

These include events such as Fairs, Fetes, Picnics, Excursions, Camps etc.

When planning an event consider both the age range and number of participants.  An Event Safety Checklist (produced by SafeWork SA) is a guide to many of the issues that must be considered when planning an event and, depending on the nature of the event, some of these issues may require more detailed attention.  It highlights issues for consideration such as:

  • Access and Egress
  • Traffic Flow
  • Amenities
  • Signage
  • Maintenance
  • Fire Prevention
  • First Aid
  • Electrical
  • Permits, Licensing and Registration
  • Utilities/Site Services
  • Employee, Volunteer and Contractor Training
  • Lighting
  • Staging and Platforms
  • Ladders
  • Work at Heights
  • Manual Handling
  • Amusement Structures (including inflatable)
  • LPG Gas Cylinders and Heaters
  • Fuels, Fireworks or Pyrotechnics
  • Weather Conditions
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Other Considerations (such as noise, food & alcohol, animal displays, etc.)

Refer below for an ‘Event Safety Checklist’ which can be used as a guide to assist with organising your Event.

As part of any good planning process, hazards should be identified and risks assessed and controlled to minimise the potential for injury or harm.  Events vary in size, nature and type, but all events require assessment, control and the monitoring of risks.  Risk awareness might be regarded by some as ‘common sense’ and the transfer of this information into risk registers or risk control plans may seem a little overwhelming, however these documents can be simple in their initial form and later built upon as the event planning progresses.  The documents not only provide evidence that safety was always regarded as being important but can later be used to assess event safety outcomes at the conclusion of the event and improve where possible for future events.  It is necessary to perform a risk assessment prior to every event – even if the same or similar event has been held several times before.

To assist in this process the Synod office has created a Hazard Management Policy which gives guidelines on procedures to have in place and provides forms to be used and examples from which to work.  Refer to “Hazard Management”.

High Risk Activities

Please contact Uniting Church Insurance Services if intending to conduct an event involving any type of adventure related and high risk activities (incl. Jumping/Bouncy Castles, flying foxes, fireworks, motor races/rallies, etc.), or if animals will be present at an event.  In these situations extra insurance cover may be required or the risk may be excluded altogether.  Activities of this nature must be referred to Insurance Services for approval well in advance of staging the event.

Many children and young people enjoy challenging activities which may involve an element of risk, however, not all risk is acceptable and the higher the risk, the greater is the number of precautions that need to be taken.  When groups are in an unfamiliar environment, the risk of an accident occurring can be far greater.  In summary, Risk Management is essential.  Churches must plan carefully to anticipate and minimise potential risks. Important things to consider may include the following:

Things to think about...

  • What are the possible physical dangers? (eg. environmental, obstacles etc)
  • What are the possible human dangers?
  • What general safety practices must be applied to the activity?
  • Have adequate indemnity and permission forms been obtained from participants?
  • Are there special medical, dietary or other needs?
  • What is the safe leadership ratio and will it be met?
  • Have the team Leaders been briefed?
  • Who will seek help in an emergency?
    • Will phone access be available? (If possibility of no mobile access, can satellite phone be hired?)

Things to check...

  • Have contact details for all participants been obtained?
  • Is the equipment is safe and good condition?
  • Do team members have appropriate skills for the activity?
  • Does the weather create a risk? Have weather forecasts been checked?
  • Is the First Aid Kit is appropriate and are all contents within the expiry date?
  • Will there be at least one Leader present at programs/activities who has current First Aid qualifications
  • Do any participants have a medical condition requiring them to carry medication?
  • Do any participants have limitations that would restrict their ability to participate at a safe level?
  • What is the closest location for medical assistance?
    • Who else has been informed about the plans?

Things to communicate...

  • Times of anticipated departure and return
  • Who is in charge
  • Which children/young people will be with you
    • Your intended activity (by contacting the Synod office) to ensure that it is covered by the Church’s insurer. – Remember that high risk activities may be excluded from our policy coverage.

Before undertaking any activity, the leadership team must take all reasonable steps including drawing up an Emergency Response Plan which should include specific information about who will:-

  • attend the injured person/people and administer First Aid
  • supervise the other participants
  • notify the appropriate authorities (ambulance, fire, police) and family members
  • revise the planned activity
  • refer any media enquiries to the appropriate Synod officer.

For further information, refer to “Emergency Response”.

Qualified leadership must be present for high risk outdoor activities such as abseiling, canoeing, caving, ropes and horse riding – approval for the activity must be obtained from Insurance Services during the planning stage of the event.  Additional qualified Leaders must be arranged if the leadership team members do not have appropriate training to supervise the activity.

Parents, caregivers or guardians must be made aware of any element of risk in any activity.  Guidelines and examples of forms are detailed under ‘Permission & Indemnity’.

Legal action relating to any incident involving a minor may be brought before the courts up until the individual reaches 21 years of age.  Therefore it is essential that the risk management plan is documented and any incidents be carefully and thoroughly recorded in a permanent register.

There should always be a minimum of two (2) Leaders.  This will allow one leader to deal with an incident/injury and ensure another leader is free to continue supervising the remaining children.  By ensuring that two Leaders are present at all activities, the possibility of inappropriate behaviour is also minimised.  Also try to have an appropriate gender balance in a leadership team when the event or activity involves both sexes.

The appropriate ratio of Leaders to participants will vary from one activity to another.  The table below provides a guide for supervision ratios of Leaders of children and young people.


Age Range

0-2 yrs

2-5 yrs

5-7 yrs

7-12 yrs

12+ yrs


Parents should
be present





Water *

Parental Supervision
at all times





Adventure **

Parental Supervision
at all times





For example:

*    Water Activities can include:

  • swimming in public pools with Life Guard supervision
  • swimming in public places where strict controls are in place and a careful and comprehensive risk assessment is carried out

NOTE:  A minimum of one (1) qualified Life Guard must be present at all Water activities

**   Adventure Activities can include:

  • bush and night walks
  • camping
  • sporting games


Between 1/07/10 and 30/06/11, 315 people drowned in Australia – one more than experienced in the previous year and two less than experienced a decade earlier.  In the past decade, 80 of these drownings occurred in public swimming pools.  A quarter of these were children under five years of age.  While young children are the main victims, non-swimmers who fall in or swimmers caught out of their depth are also at risk.  It is therefore imperative that the following occur before any child participates in a swimming activity:

  • parents be provided with swimming event details (including activities to be held in or near the water), requirements and dangers present and precautions being taken
  • a complete understanding of the child’s swimming ability – enquire from parent on permission form and perform an assessment
  • children with limited swimming ability to be wearing swimming aids
  • minimum of one (1) lifeguard to be present at the swimming event (Leader to have qualifications if none other going to be already present)
  • at least one (1) adult to have current first aid qualifications including Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) or immediate access to first aid facilities, including qualified personnel
  • number of Leaders per children ratio to be adhered to – with minimum two (2) Leaders

Events/activities specifically for children & young people must be Smoke, Drug and Alcohol free.

Contracts related to the conduct of an event

If intending to hire premises or engaging the services of a firm or individual for an event, the church may be required to enter into a contract.  There are important things to consider before entering into any contract.  Refer to “Contracts” for full information.

Relevant Forms

Other Relevant Information