About ATSOs

Assisted Travel Support Officers (ATSOs) are department employees who provide additional supervision and support for students on transport.

Most students with a disability travel successfully on buses and in taxis without the need for an ATSO.

Students with complex health and/or behaviour needs require the services of an ATSO to ensure their safe travel to and from school.

Schools, in partnership with families, assess a student's travel support needs and apply to ASTP for an ATSO when needed.

An ATSO will work with the school, parents, contractors and drivers to provide a high level of supervision for students when on transport.

ATSOs must:

  • be 18 years of age
  • physically able
  • have good communication skills
  • be respectful and understanding of students with disability
  • be able to work collaboratively with others.

Roles and responsibilities

An ATSO's role includes assisting schools and contractors/drivers in:

  • providing additional supervision for students when accessing and travelling in contracted vehicles
  • liaising with school principals in regards to specific student requirements and behaviour management plans
  • supporting students with assistive equipment.

ATSOs are expected to:

  • abide by the department's child protection and code of conduct policies
  • maintain a courteous and respectful relationship with students, drivers, contractors, parents, the school and ASTP staff
  • ensure the safety of all students throughout the journey
  • sit in close proximity as practical to the student(s) being supported or follow the recommended seating plan
  • ensure you have a copy of the student's travel support plan from the school and follow the strategies listed
  • seek assistance from the school with support strategies
  • inform the school and the ASTP of any significant student behaviour, incidents or issues that occur whilst transporting students in their care
  • liaise with drivers and contractors about pick-up times, locations and day-to-day transport operations including absentee notices
  • be punctual and reliable in ensuring students get to and from school
  • not enter into private arrangements with parents.

Working with parents, schools and drivers

Parents are required to:

  • be ready 15 minutes before the pick-up and drop-off time
  • wait at the agreed safe pick-up and drop-off location outside the home to meet the vehicle.
  • ensure their child is safely seated with seatbelts fastened
  • provide any equipment required for safe travel as specified in the student's travel plan.

Parents are encouraged to communicate the specific needs of their child to appropriate travel staff and to notify the contractor if their child is not attending on a particular day.

Find out more about parent responsibilities.

Drivers should:

  • ensure vehicles are roadworthy and clean
  • follow a run card
  • carry driver identification at all times.

In the event of an emergency, all people in the vehicle must:

Drivers and ATSOs need to work as a team in managing students on transport.

To ensure child protection, if the nominated adult is not at home at the time of drop off, drivers will contact the ASTP.

In the event of a 'home alone', drivers will return the student to school or take them to the nearest office of the Department of Family and Community Services, or to the police.

Schools develop individual student travel support plans as required. They provide ongoing support for drivers and ASTOs regarding the specific needs of students.

Schools must ensure students are safely seated with seat belts fastened. School staff meet transport to provide a safe entry and exit for students.

ATSOs should contact the school principal and ASTP with any concerns regarding students or school procedures.

Learn more about the role schools play in assessing and supporting the safe travel needs of students to and from school.

Types of employment

ATSOs are employed by the NSW Department of Education on a temporary basis during the school year.

ATSOs are employed under two categories:

  • Long Term Temporary (LTT) – ATSOs who are engaged on a temporary contract to provide services during school term time (up to four school terms a year).
  • Short Term Temporary (STT) – Relief ATSOs who can be placed on a run when the LTT ATSO is unavailable.

Approved ATSOs are placed onto the STT list that is updated and sent weekly to contractors during the school year.

Contractors must carefully check individual ATSO training against the needs of students on assisted school travel.

Some students require a highly specialised level of care that requires specific health care procedure training. The ASTP works with schools and contractors to identify appropriately trained or qualified ATSOs from the STT list.

LTT ATSOs are permitted to be reassigned to other runs if the students they support are absent. This needs to be approved by the ASTP.

LTT ATSOs seeking to take leave outside of their contracted award conditions such as holiday's mid-school term must seek authorisation from the ASTP beforehand.

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