24 May QCCC Statement on recent Queensland school camp incident
Considering media coverage of a recent incident on a Queensland school (not owned or operated by QCCC) which has led to the hospitalisation of a teenager, QCCC provides this statement on our operations and the safety of our programs. We trust this will be beneficial to inspire confidence in Queensland’s Outdoor Education industry, and QCCC’s operations. The benefits of Outdoor Education to the holistic development of school children, particularly in this modern technological age, is well documented and qualified, and worthy of an ongoing commitment and investment.
Whilst we know no further details than what has been reported in media, we are led to believe the recent incident occurred on a high ropes course. QCCC do not have a high ropes course at any of our facilities.
We would however like to make some general comments about the Queensland Outdoor Education industry, and our own operations to re-assure schools and parents:
- On any given school day, it is estimated there are up to 5,000 school students on school camps in Queensland accessing Outdoor Education programs without incident.
- Statistically the most dangerous part of a school camp event is the bus travel to and from the campsite.
- The modern school campsite is a very different facility to the one most parents might have attended. Exacting standards of compliance are imposed and independently audited. To provide some examples:
- All QCCC activities are inspected by qualified QCCC staff on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis (depending on the nature of the activity);
- All high-rope elements (eg giant swing, flying fox etc) are independently audited on a minimum annual basis by professionals from Project Adventure.
- Logs are kept on the use of equipment (eg ropes, helmets and harnesses) and these are retired and replaced according to Australian industry standards.
- QCCC and its contractors fulfil industry best-practice. Groups sizes vary between 12-20, with some activities (flying fox 1, climbing wall and abseiling) having two instructors with each group, as well as accompanying teachers or parent supervisors.
- Catering facilities are subject to the same Council inspections and parameters imposed on all commercial kitchens, and in the last year Queensland Health has conducted audits on water quality and procedures at most Queensland campsites. QCCC sites fulfil all expectations comfortably (eg QCCC Brookfield has a five-star rating from Brisbane City Council’s “Eat Safe” program).
- QCCC employs a full-time trainer for the purposes of staff training, our internship program (the only one of its kind in Queensland) and professional development. QCCC’s qualifications are mainly provided through a registered training organisation (RTO) The Training Collaborative and our instructors hold qualifications ranging from Bachelor of Arts Degrees and Diplomas of Education in Outdoor Education to the Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation, or equivalent, as a minimum qualification.
- QCCC’s senior supervisor of Outdoor education, Neil Robinson was the winner of the QORF Award for Excellence in Outdoor Education in 2017, industry recognition of his investment into the training of hundreds of instructors over twenty-five years. Instructors are subject to a regular regime of professional development and review and QCCC keeps physical logs of their experience and qualifications. All new incoming staff are in-serviced and assessed by QCCC staff before they are approved to facilitate a group.
This is a regrettable incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the teenager, his family, and the operators.
UPDATE: The Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation (QORF) have asked all “members who operate continuous high ropes courses, which employ a static self-belay system (safety tails) for participant safety, to temporarily stop using these elements. This is until we have a complete understanding of this incident and are in a position where full recommendations can be made to prevent a re occurrence.” No QCCC sites operate continuous high ropes courses, and none of our activities rely on a static self-belay system.