Spotlight on Safer EOTC Programmes
If any of you have been watching the news or in particular TV3’s current affairs programme ‘3rd Degree’, you will be very familiar with the shakeup in the Adventure Industry with regard to safety. While the shakeup is primarily aimed at the tourism industry; Leaders of school groups and private groups intending to get out in our beautiful, adventurous Aotearoa should also be aware of the improvements and changes happening for adventure activities.
It certainly is a very exciting and proud time for outdoor education as we collectively and consciously work towards quality outdoor education outcomes with a high focus on preventable incidents. Schools and group leaders now more than ever need to be a part of this. While principals and boards have always held a duty of care to safeguard their staff and students from preventable harm, today the board are ultimately responsible for the safety of their staff and students.
However, this is not a scare tactic by any means. It simply ensures that due diligence is taken when engaging with any person or provider to deliver adventure activities. This is easily achieved by demonstrating that all practicable steps are taken to ensure the environment and facilities, equipment and correct use of, instructors and leaders plus participant information have all met acceptable industry standards and that correct policies and procedures are followed.
The 2011 Adventure Regulations have provided excellent impetus for providers like Bigfoot Adventures to review and improve their safety management systems. The development of a safety quality mark, namely ‘Outdoors Mark’ is the current benchmark for providers around safer delivery of activities. The deadline for passing this audit and registering with the government (MBIE) is 1st of November this year.
With regards to EOTC, ensuring that your provider has their safety audit is a great starting point. As of November this year, a school should reconsider using any provider that is not registered or at least get an understanding of how the provider is working towards this. It is only fair to say at this point, that a back log of audits due for completion, may be the sole reason that your provider is not registered. In either case – registered or not – due diligence should involve taking the extra time to vet their safety management systems. It may pay to engage an expert in the activity / programme to support in the vetting process.
Bigfoot Adventures as leaders in delivery of quality outdoor education programmes passed our safety audit in 2011 and continue to improve our systems each year. This is a valuable exercise for any provider delivering outdoor education. Schools delivering a dedicated outdoor programme can also avail of the safety audit to improve and gain an independent review of their systems. Bigfoot Adventures can support a school wishing to gain the ‘Outdoor Mark’ safety audit. We are also happy to support any provider a school wishes to use that has not yet completed their audit or registered with the government. The list of current registered providers can be found here (link: http://www.dol.govt.nz/Tools/AAOAudit/Audit/register)
As long as group leaders are careful and thorough in planning and following procedures, risk should be minimised and no serious harm is probable. And this is ultimately what we all want – fun adventurous learning outcomes with successful risk management.
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