Scuba diving

To participate in introductory scuba training in a pool, students must be able to demonstrate the ability to submerge and resurface confidently without scuba equipment.

Current medical information on students must be obtained.  For pool training, the standard Departmental medical information form can be used, together with a medical information form designed specifically for scuba diving. See

Medical History – Introductory Scuba Experience Only (doc – 280.5kb)

If the introductory scuba experience is not in a pool and is in water that is more than chest deep and/or includes a dive, a medical information form designed specifically for scuba diving must be completed. See:

Medical History – Introductory Scuba Experience Only (doc – 280.5kb)

Where students with one or more of the following medical conditions want to participate in an introductory scuba experience, they may do so if they have obtained, within the previous three months, a certificate of diving fitness from a medical practitioner certified in diving medicine:

  • chronic ear infection
  • perforated eardrum
  • epilepsy, seizures or blackouts
  • chronic bronchitis
  • severe asthma
  • heart or lung conditions.

For scuba diving beyond the introductory experience, all students must have obtained, within the previous three months, a certificate of diving fitness from a medical practitioner certified in diving medicine.

Where there may be doubt about a student’s fitness to scuba dive because of a temporary illness, such as a cold, flu or hay fever, a certificate from a medical practitioner may be requested.

It is recommended that all participants intending to SCUBA dive seek medical advice prior to the activity.

Before a scuba activity in open water, students must demonstrate that they can (without using a mask, fins, snorkel or flotation equipment):

  • competently swim 200 metres on the surface of the water using a recognised stroke
  • float and/or tread water for ten minutes.

Scuba diving is recommended for students of at least 15 years of age. Students should have the physical strength to carry the equipment, the ability to follow complex instructions and the maturity and responsibility to understand and implement the necessary safety procedures. Scuba diving is not recommended for primary school students.

Care should be taken to ensure equipment is of proper design and fit for age, build and size of students. Wherever possible the need for manual handling and heavy lifting should be minimised.

The instructor should ascertain the previous experience of each student.

Instructional staff must brief students on:

  • equipment, clothing and footwear that is suitable for the activity and location
  • safety measures appropriate to control risks associated with the activity and the environment
  • minimal environmental impact techniques relevant to the activity and location
  • historical and cultural considerations relevant to the activity and location
  • activity scope and boundaries
  • communication and communication signals
  • relevant terminology.

Students must be taught the following skills as part of their first training session:

  • clearing and replacing the face mask
  • clearing and replacing the regulator
  • achieving positive buoyancy while on the surface.

Students must be able to demonstrate competence in these skills prior to additional diving activities.

Additionally, students should be taught:

  • buoyancy concepts: how to gain and maintain positive buoyancy, and as underwater depth increases, the effects on buoyancy on increase in pressure
  • the dangers of separation from the group
  • hyperventilation and hypothermia
  • ‘squeeze’ in ears, sinuses, mask and lungs – the pressure–depth relationship
  • techniques to equalise pressure in ears and mask air space
  • techniques to equalise pressure in the ears when descending
  • entry and exit methods
  • self-rescue techniques
  • correct finning technique
  • hand signals, for example, OK, not OK, distress
  • safety practices, such as the buddy system – responsibility for a diving partner where one dives and the other stays on the surface, ‘one up, one down’
  • marine dangers, for example, blue ringed octopus.

Before students can proceed to open water situations beyond the introductory scuba experience, they must be deemed by a qualified scuba instructor to have demonstrated the required ‘standard’ of theory and pool training.  To progress to more advanced dives, students must hold, or be training for, the appropriate scuba qualification for that level of diving.

Records should be kept of students’ prerequisite abilities. See:
Documentation of Participant Preparation, Pre-requisite Skills/Knowledge​ ​ (doc – 139kb)

A student safety briefing must be held at the scuba diving venue and include such information as:

  • establishing the boundaries of the scuba diving and the out-of-water waiting area
  • defining and explaining the response plan for any accident or other emergency that might occur.

The psychological preparation of students is as important as the physical preparation, especially for students who are anxious about the activity. Under no circumstances should students be pressured by staff or peers to participate beyond their readiness.

For more information, see:
Excursion support – student preparation section.

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