Lessons learnt and outcomes from the review into canyoning and caving in the ACT

Mr Dan McNamara1
1ACT Education Directorate, Canberra, Australia


Unexpectedly, in May 2019, all ACT Public Schools ceased any canyoning or caving activities. This announcement occurred just days before schools were heading out on caving trips and after teachers spent significant time and money to get qualifications to lead these activities. Many students and industry providers were affected with reverberations felt around the country.

Following this announcement, a real sense of community emerged with teachers and industry stakeholders banding together to work with the ACT Education Directorate to address underlying concern around these activities. Many passionate groups and industry bodies provided support and assistance during this process.

Support was provided by the ACT Education Directorate to employ a expert to support the re-integration of these activities amongst the broader Outdoor Adventure Activities (OAA) spectrum. The ongoing result has been the successful completion of both caving and canyoning activities by ACT schools and support to further strengthen and provide longer term viability of OAA.

Dan McNamara lives and breathes the outdoors. He is a former ACT VET teacher of the year and has been working in the Outdoor Education industry for 19 years. He has a compiled an impressive list of qualifications and worked in numerous industry settings. He has significant experience of leading trips overseas.

In the last 7 years he has been teaching Outdoor Education at UCSSC Lake Ginninderra. As part of this role he has led caving trips to the Nullarbor Plains, Great Barrier Reef trips, Arapiles climbing trips, mountain biking from Mt Kosciuszko back to school and numerous local trips. He has also been involved in the training and assessment of 90 adults who have gained some Outdoor Recreation qualifications and overseen the Outdoor program at Lake Ginninderra College grow to 10 classes.

More recently, he has been heavily involved in leading Outdoor Education within the ACT through a number of roles including; running accredited professional learning, updating policy and procedures, developing risk management documentation, course writing and providing expert advice.

Currently, he is working in Universal School Support in a Assistant Director/School Leader C role to review Outdoor Adventure Activities, lead the implementation of these activities, support schools and provide advice regarding policy and procedures regarding these activities.

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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