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Version control: Original 1986 / Updated 1999 / Updated 2003 / Updated 2011 / Updated 2015/ Updated February 2023



You must refer to the Requirements for All Sport and Physical Activity (PDF 466KB) to understand your overall compliance responsibilities.

Orienteering is a sport which combines fitness and outdoor adventure with map reading and navigational skills. It involves navigating through the bush, parks or streets with the aid of a specially produced map and orienteering compass. The aim being to locate checkpoints (controls) on various natural and man-made features along the way. Examples of features include boulders, track junctions, park benches or street lamps. Controls are generally represented by distinctive orange and white flags. For students with some experience, the object is to successfully complete the course in the fastest time.

Parents and caregivers must be informed of the full details of the location, supervision to be provided, activities to be undertaken, degree of difficulty, the contact system, cost and intended departure and return times before written permission is obtained.

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Teacher/Instructor Qualifications and Experience

Where an adult, other than a teacher, accompanies the group to provide instruction or to assist with supervision, a teacher must still take overall responsibility for the supervision of students.

A teacher must be present who has recognised current training in emergency care.

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Where orienteering takes place at a venue other than the school or its immediate environs, the teacher to student ratio must not exceed 1:20.

In remote bushland settings, a 1:10 ratio is advised.

Principals and organising teachers should take into account such factors as age, abilities, experience and maturity of the students, environmental concerns, the difficulty of the terrain and the experience of the adult supervisors when establishing supervision requirements.

Appropriately qualified instructors may be counted in terms of meeting the requirements of teacher to student ratios outlined for specific activities in this document.

In the initial stages of learning, and in remote bushland settings, it is advised to have staff roving the site, positioned at control points and/or on the extremities of the course.

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School grounds, open parkland or locally mapped bushland which has recognisable tracks and features are suitable.

Where private land is to be used, prior permission from the landholder(s) must be obtained.

If not at school then the area to be used should have clear boundaries such as fences, roads or distinctive geographical boundaries.

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Orienteering maps, control flags and control cards can be arranged through the Orienteering Association of NSW.

Accurate orienteering maps are preferable in all circumstances. In some cases, accurate plans of school grounds may also be used.

Each student must carry a map.

In parkland areas, students may also require a compass and safety whistle.

In bushland areas, all students must have a compass and safety whistle. Leg protection is also recommended. Eye protection may also be considered.

A well-equipped medical kit must be readily available.

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The orienteering program must be designed to include activities that match the age, fitness level and orienteering experience of the students.

Care needs to be taken to avoid extremely hot, cold and wet weather conditions. It is incumbent on the teacher-in-charge to check the weather forecast to determine that conditions are acceptable for the duration of the activity.

Students are to be instructed to use adequate sun protection, e.g. an SPF50+ broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen reapplied regularly and a hat.

Students should wear comfortable running attire. If students are in bush areas, leg protection should be worn e.g. tracksuit or orienteering pants.

All students should wear well-made sandshoes, walking shoes or joggers with non-slip soles. Open footwear e.g. thongs, clogs or sandals, is not permitted.

Prior to the event, students should be instructed on:

  • Boundaries that they must not cross and any out of bounds areas;
  • The time limit for the course. Students must be instructed to progress to the finish area when the set time for the completion of the course has elapsed (even if they have not found all controls);
  • Procedures to follow when disoriented or lost and advised of the procedures staff will follow when students are overdue;
  • Procedures to follow if they or a fellow student is badly injured; and
  • Water availability

The course must be checked for any dangerous obstacles or hazards (e.g. track near cliff) and set so that obvious route choices avoid these dangers.

Road crossings should be avoided as much as possible. Where essential, all crossings must be supervised. It is recommended that when road crossings are included they be incorporated into courses such that the road crossing is not part of the competitors timed run.

A siren sounded at base can indicate that time has elapsed. In remote settings, a portable air horn will be useful.

The activity must be planned to finish well before dark, with sufficient time for a search and rescue plan to be implemented.

Drinking water should be readily available and students encouraged to drink prior to and on completion of the course. During hot weather, it is advisable for students to carry water and for drinking water to be supplied on the course.

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The following procedures apply to orienteering in bushland settings:

  • Beginners may work in teams of two.
  • The most suitable area is open forest with clear boundaries and a network of tracks with distinct contour features. The area must be covered by an orienteering map.
  • Students should be confident in bush navigation should they be required to venture off tracks on their course;
  • Planning must include a risk assessment that includes a search and rescue plan. Emergency procedures for staff and students should be detailed. It is desirable for the site to have a network of tracks, preferably with some able to be used by vehicles to assist with supervision and for emergency access.
  • Check with the local National Parks and Wildlife Service office, police or other local authorities about current restrictions or declared fire bans.
  • Control points should be major features which are clearly visible when approached, preferably with boundaries or catching features (i.e. significant linear features such as tracks, creeks or fences) just beyond.
  • Direct means of communication within the map area and to rescue authorities must be available. This could be a mobile phone or two-way radio with prior site testing required, to avoid potential signal blackout spots.
  • Participants should wear a watch to check time elapsed and time for completion of course.
  • Students should wear leg protection and may also consider eye protection.

Students should also be briefed on:

  • Nature conservation issues and the need to protect all flora and fauna;
  • The need to respect other park and bushland users by taking care not to damage anything, not calling out loudly unnecessarily and leaving no rubbish.

Should an injury occur involving bleeding these procedures should be followed

  • All clothing, equipment and surfaces contaminated by blood must be viewed as potentially infectious and treated accordingly
  • Participants who are bleeding must have the wound dressed and securely covered
  • Any blood covered body area (and surface area where appropriate), must be cleaned thoroughly and any blood covered clothing and equipment cleaned or removed prior to the participant recommencing the activity.

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