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Scuba Diving

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



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

These guidelines are to be used to ensure the safe participation in all Scuba activities. They outline the requirements for:

  • Divers undergoing open water training.
  • Certified divers.

For the purpose of these guidelines the following definitions shall apply:

Principal School principal
Teacher Program leader
Supervisor Non program participant used for general supervision
Student Program participant
Instructor Dive leader - qualified and current SCUBA Instructor responsible for teaching dive safety
Assistant instructor Qualified and current SCUBA Instructor responsible for assisting the SCUBA instructor
Divemaster Qualified and current SCUBA Divemaster - activity assistant (non-teaching)
Open water An explanse of water not enclosed or obstructed. Open water is any site where the surface of the water immediately above the diver is in contact with the Earth's atmosphere.
Confined water Any body of water that fits the definition of an 'enclosed pool' or provides 'pool like conditions' for the purpose of entry level scuba training.
Scuba Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus


Principals and organising teachers must consider the age, experience and maturity of the students, the experience and qualifications of the adult instructors/supervisors as well as the likely venue conditions when offering scuba diving activities as part of a school program. Teachers planning scuba diving activities need to be familiar with the procedures detailed in the memoranda Excursions Policy and Animal Welfare Policy.

Before written consent is provided parents/caregivers must be informed in writing of the details surrounding the intended activity including:

  • Location.
  • Supervision to be provided.
  • Activities to be undertaken and the degree of difficulty.
  • An outline of the required swimming/water safety competencies to be demonstrated before the activity can commence.
  • The contact system.
  • Cost.
  • Intended departure and return.

The consent form must contain a clause authorising medical aid if it is considered necessary by the Instructor, Assistant Instructor, Divemaster or teacher. The form should include a section where the parent advises the school of any illness or medical conditions that the student suffers from, or any medication the student is currently taking (including asthma sprays, etc). It's important to note that generally any person requiring an asthma puffer at any time is not considered safe to dive. This generalisation may be overruled by a medical provider.

Schools must ensure that the Dive Instructor is informed of all medical issues prior to the activity commencing.

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Requirements for SCUBA Activities

In accordance with Australian Standard Training and Certification of Recreational Divers 4005.1

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Instructor Qualifications and Experience

  • The Dive Instructor, Assistant Instructor and Divemaster must all hold current qualifications from an internationally and/or nationally recognised SCUBA certification agency as per Australian Standard Training and Certification of Recreational Divers 4005.1 (Agencies include and are not limited to BSAC, CMAS, NAUI, PADI, SSI and AUSI)
  • The Instructor, Assistant Instructor and Divemaster must have documented proof of clearance to work with persons under the age of 18.
  • All personnel involved in the dive who are not teachers must hold appropriate public liability insurance, and workers compensation insurance or equivalent.
  • Coordinating teachers must ensure that the Instructors being employed to conduct the program have had more than 1 years experience with a minimum of at least 6 hours in the last six months and twenty hours in the last two years. Instructors will be able to demonstrate teaching experience through their industry log books or records of training through their respective training agencies.

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Requirements for Students Undergoing Open Water Training:

Students must:

  • Obtain a full medical clearance within six months of the commencement of the course from a general practitioner able to meet Australian Standard Training and Certification of Recreational Divers 4005.1
  • NOT PARTICIPATE if they suffer from a medical condition which puts that student and any other person at risk in the water.
  • Be able to demonstrate competency in the water by completing: a non-timed swim of 200 metres using any stroke and any combination of recognised strokes.
  • Tread water unaided for 10 minutes.
  • Be at least 15 years of age at the start of the program and have the maturity and physical ability (as specified in the medical clearance) to complete the program.
  • Have satisfactorily completed all theory and pool sessions specified in the training schedule of the certifying course before undertaking open water dives.

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Requirements for Certified Student Divers ('C' Card Holders):

Students must:

  • Have medical clearance to dive. The medical clearance from a general practitioner able to meet Australian Standard Training and Certification of Recreational Divers 4005.1 must be current (medical conducted within the last 12 months).
  • Hold a scuba Diver Certificate issued by an internationally and/or nationally recognised scuba certification agency.
  • Present their Certification Card ('C' Card) and log book to the Dive Instructor prior to the activity for verification and recording.

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Supervision ratios requirements for Students undergoing Open Water Training

If conditions warrant, the standard supervision outlined below may need to be increased.

  • Instructor to student ratio:
    • 1:6 in pool or open water.
    • 1:10 with an Assistant Instructor or Divemaster assisting the Instructor in pool or open water.
  • In addition to the Instructor: student ratio for the purpose of school based activities it is recommended that there always be two additional adult supervisors. One of these supervisors may be the Assistant Instructor or the Divemaster.
  • A teacher (holding current CPR) must be present and has duty of care for the activity. The Dive Instructor is responsible for ensuring the activity takes place according to the dive plan. Please note, all Dive Leaders must have current First Aid/CPR/oxygen ratings as per agency standards.
  • If the additional activity supervisor is not included in the ratio he/she does not have to hold SCUBA diving qualifications, but must be familiar with the safety requirements of the activity and currently hold as a minimum one of the following qualifications:
    • A Bronze Medallion of the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia.
    • A Bronze Medallion of the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia.
    • A Surf Rescue Certificate of the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia .

Prior to the activity taking place, the Principal must approve the coordinating teachers risk assessment of the diving activity. The teachers risk assessment must identify major risks and hazards, detailing the likely occurrence of difficulties, their severity and consequences. It will indicate any actions that are being taken to minimise or reduce risks and hazards.

Supervision ratios Requirements for Certified Student Divers ('C'Card Holders):

The Instructor, Assistant Instructor or Divemaster must hold a current Instructor, Assistant Instructor or Divemaster certification.

  • A teacher must be present who has recognised current training in CPR and emergency care.
  • Instructor to certified diver ratio is 1:8.

Principals and organising teachers should take into account such factors as age and experience of the students, venue characteristics and weather conditions when determining if supervision ratios are to be modified.

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It is the responsibility of the Instructor to ensure that all students are adequately equipped and that all equipment is in good order prior to departure.

Documented proof of equipment service and maintenance schedules should be available if required.

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Personal Equipment

Student diving equipment must include :

  • Exposure suits (wet suit or dry-suit plus hood and gloves depending on conditions).
  • Inflatable buoyancy compensating vest (Buoyancy Control Device).
  • Weight belt with quick release buckle or integrated weight systems.
  • Air cylinder conforming to Standards Australia specifications with a current test stamp.
  • Primary scuba regulator with an extra air source (octopus).
  • Low pressure inflator hose connected to the 1st stage.
  • Submersible pressure gauge (SPG) attached to the 1st stage.
  • Depth gauge with maximum depth indicating needle (mdi).
  • Snorkel and mask (with tempered glass lens).
  • Fins (closed or open heel as conditions warrant).
  • Whistle or air horn.
  • Safety tube (safety sausage).
  • It is recommended that a downloadable diving computer (capable of recording maximum depth, bottom time, assent speed, surface intervals and note decompression time remaining) is available instead of a depth gauge. If a dive computer is unavailable the student will require some form of underwater timing device and a set of recreational scuba diving tables.

NOTE: warm clothing should be available following the dive as well as access to water drinks to combat dehydration.

Instructor diving equipment must have the student dive equipment as well as:

  • Safety tool (divers knife) unless prohibited by local authorities.
  • Compass.
  • A strobe light visible for 5 km with 24 hour life.
  • A precautionary decompression Stop Indicator Buoy and line kit (also known as an SMB -signal marker buoy).

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Safety Equipment

The Australian dive flag (Code Flag Alpha) is to be displayed by the instructor at the diving site or fixed to the boat if a boat dive.

Dive boats must be registered and insured surveyed vessels.

A well-equipped diving medical kit must be on site. The kit must include oxygen resuscitation equipment. The Instructor must be accredited in its use.

A mobile phone to be used in emergency situations is desirable on all dives but leaders should allow for the fact they may not operate in all locales. The teacher must be aware of the location of nearest phone and DES (Diver Emergency Service - phone number (1800 088 200) and the nearest recompression chamber (or hyperbaric Unit) - e.g. In Sydney: Prince Henry Hospital.

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The area must be a recognised dive site. The dive site must have Divers' flags

The Instructor must have current first-hand knowledge of the dive site to be used (have dived it) and be certain of its suitability for the program, the group and the conditions.

The Instructor and teacher in charge must ensure that there are no restrictions on the use of the location. If in doubt, a check must be made with the NSW Waterways Authority and other relevant authorities such as NSW Fisheries.

Diving must not be undertaken in conditions (or locales) that are not suitable for the students age, level of experience including (but not limited to):

  • Where visibility is less than three (3) metres.
  • Where the current is greater and would create stress or anxiety for the divers
  • Where unbroken waves at shore entry points are greater than 0.5 metres in height.

The diving site must be clearly defined to the divers in the pre-dive briefing. Two exit points and one entry point must be clearly defined, have minimal water movement and must be safe for the student's age and experience level.

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All diving is to be conducted according to the course schedule and within the limits of the participants qualification. Therefore open water depth is not to exceed 18 metres. If the location of the dive site allows for dives up to 18 metres it is important that student divers experience a maximum depth dive at least once. Trips need to be well planned. Students must be briefed in regard to safety issues. The Instructor and teacher should carry a card detailing procedures to follow in emergencies and contact numbers (contact system). All party members should know how to put these procedures into practice.

Procedures must be in place to ensure that every diver has returned to the boat or shore prior to departure from the dive site (log out and log in system). A buddy system is to be maintained at all times.

Avoid extreme weather conditions. It is incumbent on the Instructor and teacher-in-charge to check the weather forecast to determine that conditions are acceptable for the duration of the dive.

Transport must be readily available in case of emergency.

Limits are to be set on group movements (particularly depth and time). All divers are to remain in eye contact with the Instructor/Assistant Instructor/Divemaster at all times during the dive.

It is the responsibility of the Instructor to supervise the student checks of the operation of their personal SCUBA equipment including the contents of the air cylinder prior to the dive (The cylinder must be filled to it's working pressure at the commencement of any dive).

The Instructor/Assistant Instructor/Divemaster must check the tank contents of all divers regularly during the dive.

On the completion of the dive, all students must have a 50 bar minimum of air. Termination of the dive (for all participants) must occur when the first student reaches a low air pressure reading. The air pressure level for 'dive termination' will be determined at the pre-dive briefing as the depth of the dive will affect the rate at which the air is used.

Any dive done below a depth of 5 metres must complete a precautionary decompression stop at 5 metres for three minutes during ascent.

On boat dives students should use the anchor line or a shot line to descend and ascend.

Students should be given a variety of dives on completion of their training e.g. shore, river and boat.

The Instructor will use a recognised method of attracting divers attention underwater. e.g. tank rattle or air activated underwater signalling device fitted to their low pressure BC inflator hose.

Log books are to be completed and signed after each dive.

Students are to be instructed to use adequate sun protection, e.g. an SPF50+, broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen reapplied regularly and sufficient water to avoid dehydration, at least two litres per trip.

Under no circumstances are spear guns, hand spears or knives to be used.

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Dive planning and dive briefings

All dives must have a dive plan and divers must attend a briefing before the commencement of each dive.

The dive plan and briefing must include:

  • Discussion of local hazards which may include strong currents and conditions, boat traffic and potentially dangerous marine life.
  • Nature conservation issues and the need to protect the marine environment. Marine life is to be observed, not touched or disturbed.
  • Instructions not to collect any natural objects or relics while on their dive unless a licence has been obtained for marine studies. If rocks are
  • turned over, they are to be replaced.
  • Wreck sights are not to be disturbed.
  • Wreck sites should only be entered if direct access to the surface is maintained. Please note – Wreck penetration under any circumstances should be closely supervised and consideration be given to reducing instructor:student ratios.
  • Caves and caverns must not be entered.

All dives must have post dive debrief. The debriefing should include checks for ear discomfort, headaches, breathing problems, depth times and air reserve limits.

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