Unpacking excursions and regular outings
What is an excursion?
Services can choose to take the children under their care on an excursion.
In the context of the Education and Services National Regulations, an excursion means an outing organised by an education and care service or family day care educator [regulation 4].
Within the broad definition prescribed above, the department as the Regulatory Authority recognises an excursion to primarily comprise of one or more of the following attributes:
- Supports and encourages children/students to explore, extend and enhance their learning, usually in a non-school/non-formal environment.
- Involves children and service staff taking a walk, drive or trip to a destination, usually from the service premises.
- Is part of the service’s planned Educational Program for children.
Before going on an excursion, the service must conduct a risk assessment [regulation 100], which considers the matters set out in [regulation 101] and obtain the appropriate authorisation for each child to go on the excursion [regulation 102].
Note: It is important to note that the requirements of the National Quality Framework where relevant, still apply to excursions.
Common examples of excursions
The most common examples of excursions services take include:
- local park
- indoor activities such as rock climbing or bowling.
Scenarios that are not excursions
There are some scenarios that can easily be confused as “excursions” but are not considered as such by the department. Examples include:
- A temporary relocation of a service premises due to circumstances such as asbestos removal, renovation, loss of right to occupy and upgrades to premise.
- Transporting children to a related education and care service for the purposes of providing education and care.
- Transporting children between the service premises and their school (refer to ACECQA's information sheet - Safe transportation of children. The regulations came into effect on the 1 October 2020).
- Emergency evacuations or emergency evacuation rehearsals.
- An outing organised by an education and care service provided on a school site if the child or children leave the education and care service premises in the company of an educator and the child or children do not leave the school site.
While each scenario listed above is not an excursion and, as such, the regulatory requirements for excursions do not apply, they each have their own specific requirements under the NQF that must be met by the service.
What is a regular outing?
Some excursions may be considered as a Regular Outing. A regular outing is a walk, drive or trip to and from a destination that the service visits regularly as part of its educational program and where the circumstances relevant to the risk assessment are substantially the same on each outing.
Risk assessments for regular outings are required to be conducted under R100(4) within the 12 month period prior to the outing, however best practice recommends these are reviewed regularly to ensure a service’s risk assessment and management strategies remain updated, accurate and reflect actual practice, and that any substantial changes to identified risks are managed.
Accompanying authorisations are required to be obtained at least once in a 12 month period R102(5), and should include all requirements as outlined in R102(4).
Common examples of regular outings
The most common examples of regular outings include:
Accessing a play space adjacent to, but not included, on service premises, on a daily/weekly basis.
A walk to a local shopping centre to recycle soft plastics, on a weekly/monthly basis.
A trip to a FDC principal office for a weekly playgroup session with other FDC enrolments.
Regularly transporting children between their home and the service, or the service and their school.
For information on how to manage excursions in the context of COVID-19, please visit the COVID-19 guidelines for ECEC services.
The department appreciates that services and providers may need assistance in understanding if their scenario is recognised as an excursion and what this means in practice.
For support, services can contact the department’s Information and Enquiries service on 1800 619 113 (toll free) or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please refer to additional resources on excursions and related topics:
- Service planning for excursions (DOCX, 24KB)
- Conducting risk assessments (pages 380 - 384) (PDF, 35MB)
- Information sheet - Safe transportation of children (PDF, 189 KB)
- ECE resource library