Unit of competency details

SISOABN408A - Instruct abseiling on single pitch natural surfaces (Release 2)


Usage recommendation:
Is superseded by SISOABS009 - Lead single pitch abseiling activities on natural surfacesNot equivalent. Title changed. Two units merged: SISOABN305A Guide abseiling on single pitch natural surfaces SISOABN408A Instruct abseiling on single pitch natural surfaces Unit focuses on leadership skills at time of delivery; planning removed. Planning skills for leaders covered in SISOPLN001, SISOPLN002, SISOPLN004 & SISOPLN005. Significant changes to performance criteria and knowledge evidence. 10/Sep/2019
Supersedes and is equivalent to SROABN008A - Instruct abseiling on natural surfaces (single pitch)E Updated and equivalent to SROABN008A Instruct abseiling on natural surfaces (single pitch) 06/Jun/2011

Release Status:
ReleaseRelease date
2 (this release) 28/Nov/2011
(View details for release 1) 07/Jun/2011


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 092103 Sports Coaching, Officiating And Instruction  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 092103 Sports Coaching, Officiating And Instruction  18/Nov/2011 
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Modification History

Not Applicable

Unit Descriptor

This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to instruct abseiling on single pitch natural surfaces. This unit focuses on planning, instructing and evaluating an instructional abseiling session to enable participants to achieve the skills and knowledge required to participate independently in single pitch abseiling on natural surfaces.

Application of the Unit

This unit applies to those working as abseiling instructors in a range of single pitch natural conditions.

This unit may also apply to leaders working for outdoor education or adventure providers; volunteer groups; not-for-profit organisations or government agencies.

Licensing/Regulatory Information

No licensing, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of endorsement.



Employability Skills Information

This unit contains employability skills.

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements and Performance Criteria



Elements describe the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised text is used, further information is detailed in the required skills and knowledge section and the range statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the evidence guide.

1. Plan an abseiling session.

1.1. Establish participant's needs and characteristics .

1.2. Determine participant's current abseiling knowledge in order to determine the session's aims and objectives .

1.3. Determine an appropriate instructional plan  according to participant's needs and characteristics.

1.4. Develop an abseiling plan  according to participant's needs and characteristics, relevant legislation  and organisational policies and procedures .

1.5. Identify potential hazards  associated with abseiling on natural surfaces  and minimise risks , according to organisational policies and procedures, to ensure safety of participants.

1.6. Access relevant sources  to interpret detailed weather and environmental information  and determine contingency plans .

2. Select and organise equipment and resources.

2.1. Select and access equipment  and resources  according to contextual issues  and organisational policies and procedures, and check that it is in good working condition.

2.2. Check equipment for safety and suitability, according to relevant legislation and manufacturer's recommendations, and adjust and fit to ensure personal comfort.

2.3. Check contents of first aid and repair kits to ensure suitability to the location and activity.

3. Brief participants.

3.1. Communicate instructions and relevant information  about the abseiling session in a manner appropriate to the participants.

3.2. Encourage participants to seek clarification, information and feedback as required during the session.

3.3. Establish a suitable communication system  for participants to use while abseiling and belaying.

3.4. Inform participants of known and anticipated hazards, safety checks  and appropriate behaviour.

4. Instruct an abseiling session.

4.1. Conduct introductory activities for participants to reduce the risk of injury.

4.2. Monitor individual participant's performance  during abseiling session.

4.3. Apply clear and accurate instructional techniques  to impart activity specific knowledge , abseiling skills  and safety and rescue procedures .

4.4. Observe participants during abseiling and belaying and adjust or refine individual and or group technique as required.

4.5. Inform participants of opportunities  to further develop their abseiling skills and knowledge.

5. Complete post-session responsibilities.

5.1. Retrieve, inspect, repair and store equipment according to organisational policies and procedures.

5.2. Provide opportunities for participants to identify their personal progress and satisfaction with the session, and give feedback as required.

5.3. Evaluate relevant aspects  of abseiling session, and determine the level of learning achieved.

5.4. Identify potential areas of improvement for future abseiling instruction sessions.

Required Skills and Knowledge

This section describes the skills and knowledge required for this unit.

Required skills 

  • communication skills to:
  • consult with participants to plan an abseiling session that meets their needs
  • convey information about the safety aspects of the session
  • interact with participants to create a safe and positive abseiling environment
  • problem-solving skills to:
  • plan a suitable abseiling session according to participant's needs and characteristics
  • address participant difficulties in developing abseiling techniques
  • anticipate and respond appropriately to non-routine situations
  • planning and organising skills to:
  • source, allocate and coordinate resources, equipment and a natural pitch
  • monitor and evaluate progress
  • organise participants into manageable groups for abseiling and belaying
  • language and literacy skills to:
  • produce abseiling and instructional plans for the abseiling session,
  • complete post-session participant and self evaluations
  • instructional techniques to suit a range of participant's needs and characteristics
  • rope handling, retrieval and knot tying skills to rig ropes and anchors adequately and safely
  • efficient and effective personal abseiling skills to demonstrate and explain abseiling and belaying techniques to participants
  • first aid and emergency response skills appropriate to the location to enable initial response and or rescue in emergencies whilst instructing abseiling on natural surfaces.

Required knowledge 

  • relevant legislation and organisational policies and procedures to enable safe conduct of abseiling sessions
  • minimal impact codes to ensure protection of the environment
  • site specific information to assist in the planning process and enable management of potential abseiling hazards, and any special restrictions applying to the site
  • equipment types, characteristics and technology used for abseiling on natural surfaces, the advantages and disadvantages of the range of equipment, and factors affecting appropriate selection of equipment
  • clothing and footwear requirements for abseiling activities to ensure comfort and safety
  • care and maintenance of abseiling equipment to ensure prolonged life span and safety requirements
  • instruction techniques and theories applicable to a range of ages and learning abilities
  • abseiling techniques and common communication methods and calls used between abseilers and belayers to reduce risk during abseiling on single pitch natural surfaces
  • belay systems, devices and anchors appropriate for single pitch natural surfaces
  • technical single pitch abseiling knowledge, such as techniques and procedures to suit the features of the surface
  • weather and environmental information to ascertain possible conditions and their affect on the session
  • hazards that may be experienced in a natural abseiling environment
  • emergency procedures, potential hazards and obstacles relevant to the location to ensure safety of self and others.

Evidence Guide

The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment 

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit 

Evidence of the following is essential:

  • plans and delivers information, explanations and demonstrations for abseiling session to ensure activities are conducted safely according to participant's needs and characteristics
  • observes and monitors the progress of participants, provides constructive feedback and intervention and modifies instructional techniques and activities to improve participants abseiling performance as required
  • evaluates and reflects on own instruction performance to identify strengths, weaknesses and areas that need improvement.

Context of and specific resources for assessment 

Assessment must ensure instruction of abseiling activities, using a variety of instructional techniques that reflect the needs and characteristics of a range of participants competency and consistency of performance.

Assessment must also ensure access to:

  • resources and information regarding participants and location to accurately plan, instruct and document abseiling sessions for a variety of participants
  • a natural single pitch abseiling site suitable for the conduct of instructional sessions
  • a group of participants to take part in the abseiling session
  • equipment such as harnesses, helmets, belay devices, descending devices, ropes, gloves, karabiners, food and water, and safety and first aid equipment.

Method of assessment 

A range of assessment methods should be used to assess practical skills and knowledge. The following examples are appropriate for this unit:

  • oral and or written questioning to assess knowledge of relevant legislation and organisational policies and procedures to enable safe conduct of all abseiling activities during the session
  • observation of safe abseiling instruction, monitoring and adjustment according to participant's needs and characteristics
  • review of abseiling session plans
  • third-party reports from a supervisor detailing performance.

Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role is recommended, for example:

  • SISOABN305A Guide abseiling on single pitch natural surfaces

Range Statement

The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

Participant's needs and characteristics  may include:

  • age
  • cultural factors
  • fitness level and physical capabilities
  • abseiling skills and knowledge
  • injuries and illnesses.

Session's aims and objectives  may include:

  • developing abseiling on natural surface skills
  • education
  • development
  • therapy
  • fitness targets
  • recreation.

Instructional plan  may include:

  • abseiling activities and drills
  • duration of activities and drills.

Abseiling plan  may include:

  • session's aims and objectives
  • date, time and duration
  • location
  • instructor and participant ratios
  • resources and equipment
  • food and water
  • weather details
  • participant information
  • safety requirements
  • risk management plan.

Relevant legislation  may include:

  • occupational health and safety
  • permits or permission for access
  • environmental regulations
  • marine regulations.

Organisational policies and procedures  may include:

  • occupational health and safety
  • time and budget constraints
  • use and maintenance of equipment
  • communication protocols
  • confidentiality of participant information
  • instructor and participant ratios
  • emergency and safety procedures
  • code of ethics.

Hazards  may include:

  • temperature extremes
  • slippery or unstable terrain
  • dangerous animals and insects
  • stinging trees and nettles
  • dense vegetation
  • group management hazards.

Natural  surfaces may include:

  • cliffs
  • boulders

Risks  may include:

  • hypothermia
  • heat exhaustion
  • injuries
  • exhaustion
  • lost party or party member
  • equipment failure.

Relevant sources  may include:

  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • media
  • land managers or agencies
  • coastal patrol or coastguard
  • volunteer marine rescue
  • local knowledge

Weather and environmental information  may include:

  • satellite images
  • daily and weekly forecasts
  • maximum and minimum temperatures
  • weather warnings
  • event warnings
  • river levels
  • synoptic charts
  • high and low tide predictions.

Contingency plan  may include:

  • change location
  • reduce duration
  • cancel
  • postpone

Equipment  may include:

  • abseiling equipment
  • safety equipment
  • rescue equipment

Resources  may include:

  • food and water
  • teaching aids
  • suitable natural single pitch surface for instructing abseiling.

Contextual issues  may include:

  • weather conditions, including times
  • season
  • transport
  • location
  • trip distance and duration
  • group objectives
  • group size.

Relevant information  may include:

  • equipment requirements, selection and use
  • safety procedures
  • possible hazards
  • abseiling and belaying techniques
  • objectives
  • rules and codes
  • responsible and safe behaviour.

Communication system  may include:

  • calls
  • radio
  • hand signals
  • whistles.

Safety checks  may include:

  • A - anchors - secure and suitable to application
  • B - buckles - locked as per manufacturers recommendations
  • C - connectors - locked, secured and orientated
  • D - devices - threaded correctly and secured
  • E - everything else including end of rope knots, friction hitches, belayer ready, helmet chin strap, clothing, jewellery and hair secured
  • F - friend - cross check.

Participant's performance  may include:

  • use of appropriate communication system
  • abseiling technique
  • belaying technique
  • attitude and behaviour
  • negotiation of hazards
  • use of equipment.

Instructional techniques  may include:

  • part to whole
  • sequential
  • known to unknown
  • D.E.D.I.C.T:
  • demonstrate
  • explain
  • demonstrate
  • instruct
  • critique
  • test
  • E.D.I.C.T:
  • explain
  • demonstrate
  • instruct
  • critique
  • test
  • I.D.E.A:
  • introduce
  • demonstrate
  • explain
  • apply
  • orientate, enhance, synthesise

Activity specific knowledge  may include:

  • abseiling skills and techniques
  • establishment of ropes
  • features of a natural surface
  • minimal impact practices
  • risk and hazard management
  • equipment selection, use and maintenance
  • communication systems used in abseiling.

Abseiling skills  may include:

  • abseiling and belaying techniques
  • establishment and retrieval of ropes for a single pitch
  • communication of progress
  • negotiation of hazards and or risks
  • use and maintenance of equipment.

Safety and rescue procedures  may include:

  • emergency response procedures
  • group management in emergency situations
  • emergency response equipment
  • understanding of safety practices.

Opportunities  may include:

  • locations suitable to skill level
  • range of equipment and clothing available
  • abseiling clubs or groups in the local area.

Relevant aspects  may include:

  • objectives
  • planning process
  • activity site
  • weather
  • equipment selection
  • clothing selection
  • food selection
  • instructional content
  • instructional technique
  • assessment technique
  • group feedback
  • directing techniques
  • rescue techniques employed.

Unit Sector(s)

Outdoor Recreation

Competency Field

Abseiling natural surface