Safety regulation: perception, intention, and practice.

Mr Tony Carden1

University Of The Sunshine Coast

The experience and wisdom of practitioners have informed the development of various systems that seek to regulate safety in led outdoor activities. These systems include adventure activity standards, education department guidelines, operator licensing, instructor registration, and camp and activity accreditation. Interviews with field staff, supervisors and managers across a range of outdoor activity provider types in Victoria revealed a wide range of understanding of these regulatory mechanisms and how they relate to practice. In turn, these understandings were found to be at variance with the stated aims, advice and requirements of the regulatory systems. Furthermore, incongruity was found between the requirements of different regulatory instruments for the same activities. Has reductionist thinking limited the effectiveness and efficiency of attempts to regulate and manage safety in the outdoors? Would a more integrated approach be better? Is a more holistic approach possible? This presentation will explore how the analysis of accumulated wisdom from within and without the led outdoor activity sector can inform the improvement of safety regulation into the future.


Tony Carden began working in led outdoor activities in 1993. Starting as an assistant in youth-at-risk and corporate outdoor training programs, he went on to work as a commercial raft guide and free-lance group leader. In 1997, Tony started work at the Outdoor Education Group. Following a decade working at OEG as a School Manager, Group Leader, Course Coordinator, river trip leader and finally Director of Schools, Tony left OEG in 2008 to take up the role of Executive Officer at the Victorian Outdoor Education Association. In 2015, Tony was admitted as a postgraduate student at the Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems at the University of the Sunshine Coast, where he is now working toward his Ph.D. by conducting research on the application of systems theory to the regulation of safety in led outdoor activities.

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