Unit of competency details

SISOCHC003 - Lead challenge course sessions, high elements (Release 1)


Usage recommendation:
Supersedes SISOCRP302A - Conduct a high ropes sessionNot equivalent. Title changed. Unit focuses on leadership skills at time of delivery; planning removed. Planning not relevant to job role but planning units could be selected, as required. Establishing belay systems removed as not relevant to course leader job role; covered in SISOCHC004 Set up and supervise challenge course sessions, high elements. Rescue requirements confined to basic assisted rescues; more complex rescues covered by SISOCHR004 Set up and supervise challenge course sessions, high elements. Significant changes to performance criteria and knowledge evidence. 10/Sep/2019

Release Status:
ReleaseRelease date
1 1 (this release) 11/Sep/2019

Companion volumes:


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  07/Nov/2019 
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Unit Of competency

Modification History

Not applicable.


This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to lead participants during challenge course sessions at a facility where high elements are set up. Participants may be individual users or groups attending for purely recreational purposes, or may be groups involved in adventure based learning activities for which there would be a predetermined activity plan.

It requires the ability to explain and demonstrate, to participants, techniques for belaying others, and for using independent and linked high elements. It covers skills for basic rescues.

This unit applies to any type of organisation that operates challenge courses including commercial, not-for-profit and government organisations.

It applies to activity leaders who use discretion and judgement to manage participant logistics, safety, and routine problems within clearly defined operating procedures. Complex issues and problems would be referred to others for assistance, direction or resolution.

Leaders might also be involved in providing adventure based learning outcomes, the skills for which are provided in complementary units.

No occupational licensing, certification or specific legislative requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication.

Pre-requisite Unit


Competency Field

Challenge Course

Unit Sector

Outdoor Recreation

Elements and Performance Criteria



Elements describe the essential outcomes

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element.

1. Prepare equipment and participants.

1.1. Assess characteristics, condition and capability of participants, as they present, and obtain informed consent.

1.2. Confirm participants have clothing and footwear appropriate for the activity and anticipated weather conditions.

1.3. Select and set up personal protective equipment (PPE) to match participants, high elements and prevailing conditions.

1.4. Complete, for PPE, required safety and serviceability inspections and reports according to organisational procedures.

1.5. Direct and assist participants to fit and adjust personal protective equipment; check comfort and safety of fit.

2. Brief participants.

2.1. Explain planned objectives; communicate instructions and information about activity in a manner appropriate to participants.

2.2. Encourage participants to ask questions and seek advice before and during session.

2.3. Inform participants of known and anticipated risks, safety procedures, safe behaviour, safe areas and boundaries.

2.4. Advise participants of roles and responsibilities of activity leaders, and communication protocols to use during activity.

3. Instruct belay techniques for high elements.

3.1. Fit and adjust harnesses and belay equipment to participants to ensure comfort and safety.

3.2. Attach participants to established belay system, tie suitable knots, as required, and complete safety checks.

3.3. Explain importance of belaying and demonstrate essential components of belay technique.

3.4. Explain communication protocols and their importance.

3.5. Verify participant understanding of belay technique, communication protocols, and safety procedures.

3.6. Supervise belayer’s practice of belay techniques in a low risk situation.

3.7. Observe and monitor participant performance of belay technique and provide feedback and corrective instruction.

4. Lead high element activities.

4.1. Explain and demonstrate techniques for use of independent and linked high elements.

4.2. Position belayer appropriately for the course element, to allow effective use of belay system.

4.3. Provide clear and accurate instructions and demonstrations throughout the session.

4.4. Monitor performance of belayers and participants, and provide directions, encouragement and corrective instruction to improve techniques.

4.5. Facilitate effective group communication and interaction to maintain group control, engagement and safety.

4.6. Implement required modifications to activity to ensure participant engagement and comfort, and completion within timelines.

5. Manage safety during activities and complete basic rescues.

5.1. Monitor activity conditions and hazards, including signs of participant difficulty, to ensure safety and welfare.

5.2. Monitor participant behaviour and adherence to safety procedures, adjust level of supervision and assertively correct breaches, as required.

5.3. Respond immediately to adverse participant reactions and hazardous situations.

5.4. Complete ongoing risk assessments to minimise risk of injury to participants and others.

5.5. Amend activities if risk is unacceptable; cease activities when required.

5.6. Respond to participants in difficulty and provide verbal directions to recover and continue.

5.7. Use safe approach procedures to provide direct assistance for participants to recover and continue.

5.8. Respond to emergency situations according to organisational safety, emergency response and first aid procedures.

6. Complete post activity responsibilities.

6.1. Debrief participants and encourage discussion on their technique and satisfaction with session.

6.2. Notify relevant personnel of activity completion.

6.3. Retrieve equipment, inspect for wear or breakage, tag faults and store in designated area.

6.4. Document any equipment faults, and incidents including injuries and near misses.

6.5. Evaluate the activity through a team debrief and identify improvements for future activities.

Foundation Skills

Foundation skills essential to performance in this unit, but not explicit in the performance criteria are listed here, along with a brief context statement.



Reading skills to:

  • interpret detailed familiar organisational policies and procedures.

Writing skills to:

  • use fundamental sentence structure to complete forms such as safety checklists, equipment fault and incident reports that require factual information.

Oral communications skills to:

  • provide clear and unambiguous instructions to participants using language and terms easily understood
  • ask open and closed probe questions and actively listen to determine participants’ understanding of instructions.

Teamwork skills to:

  • pro-actively and cooperatively work within teams of leaders, support and operational staff to organise activity logistics, solve operational problems and deliver a quality experience to participants.

Planning and organising skills to:

  • organise participants into manageable groups for activities
  • manage own timing and that of participants to complete activities within organisational service times.

Unit Mapping Information

No equivalent unit.


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Assessment requirements

Modification History

Not applicable.

Performance Evidence

Evidence of the ability to complete tasks outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit in the context of the job role, and:

  • lead three high element challenge course sessions for a group of participants
  • across the three sessions, explain and demonstrate techniques for belaying and negotiating at least four different high elements
  • during each session, consistently:
  • manage participant adherence to safety procedures
  • connect participants to belay system using appropriate device and or knots and complete safety checks
  • after each session, facilitate a debrief with participants and participate in a team member debrief
  • utilise options provided in Assessment Conditions to:
  • determine a total of three required activity modifications to suit prevailing conditions and participant capabilities and responses
  • respond to a total of three different immediate safety risks that have arisen during activities
  • respond to a total of two emergency situations and complete two incident reports
  • complete two reports on equipment faults
  • complete two simulated high element rescues to indirectly assist a rescuee to recover and continue through verbal direction
  • complete two simulated high element rescues, using safe approach procedures, to directly assist the rescuee to recover and continue.

Knowledge Evidence

Demonstrated knowledge required to complete the tasks outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit:

  • organisational procedures for:
  • completing and documenting safety and serviceability inspections on personal protective equipment
  • safe participant use of high elements
  • emergency response and first aid for high element challenge course sessions
  • clothing and footwear suitable for high element challenge course activities
  • purpose, features, and correct fit for safety, of personal protective equipment for high element participants:
  • harnesses of different types, advantages and disadvantages
  • climbing helmets
  • features of different types of high elements found in challenge courses:
  • common elements:
  • independent elements
  • linked elements
  • those which are specific to the particular course in use
  • how characteristics of participants affect the selection of course elements and personal protective equipment:
  • age, size and weight
  • current experience in challenge course activities and skill level
  • fitness level and physical capabilities
  • injuries and medical conditions
  • emotional, behavioural and intellectual ability or disability
  • hazards and associated risks for participant use of high elements, and methods used to minimise risk:
  • hazards associated with the structure
  • hazards associated with equipment used to negotiate the element
  • fall protection hazards
  • group management hazards
  • weather related hazards; wind, rain, lightning etc.
  • roles and responsibilities of activity leaders and supervisors for high element activities
  • communication protocols used between participants and leaders during high element activities:
  • calls
  • hand signals
  • whistles
  • radio
  • features, functions and operation of belaying equipment used for high element challenge courses:
  • carabiners
  • rope
  • belay systems
  • types of equipment and methods used to attach participants to a high element belay system, including suitable knots that may be used
  • techniques used to:
  • negotiate high elements
  • belay others, including appropriate position for belayer
  • different techniques used to demonstrate, to participants, high element negotiation and belaying
  • appropriateness of different demonstration techniques for a range of ages and capabilities
  • the importance of verbalising instructions during demonstrations and providing reasons for doing things in a certain way
  • techniques used to:
  • build group cohesion
  • motivate and encourage participants to keep them engaged and challenged
  • provide constructive feedback to participants
  • key principles of group dynamics and techniques used to manage positive group dynamics
  • signs, stages and levels of conflict within groups and techniques used to resolve at various stages of escalation
  • techniques used for basic high element rescues to include those for:
  • indirect assistance to rescuee to recover and continue through verbal direction
  • direct assistance to rescuee to recover and continue.

Assessment Conditions

Skills must be demonstrated in a challenge course facility where at least four different high course elements are set up.

The following resources must be available to replicate industry conditions of operation:

  • first aid equipment
  • communication equipment for emergency response
  • rescue equipment.

Assessment must ensure use of:

  • a group of participants whom the individual leads
  • people who act as rescuees with whom the individual interacts during simulated rescues
  • real workplace situations, or simulated activities, or case study scenarios that test aspects of this unit that relate to:
  • activity modifications for prevailing conditions and participant needs
  • arising safety risks
  • emergency situations
  • equipment faults
  • equipment to include:
  • harnesses
  • climbing helmets
  • established anchors or attachment points and belay systems
  • carabiners
  • activity plans
  • template:
  • safety and serviceability checklists
  • participant informed consents
  • equipment fault reports
  • incident reports
  • organisational procedures for:
  • completing and documenting safety and serviceability inspections on personal protective equipment
  • safe participant use of high elements
  • emergency response and first aid for high element challenge course sessions.

Assessors must satisfy the Standards for Registered Training Organisations requirements for assessors, and:

  • have a collective period of at least three years’ experience as a challenge course leader where they have applied the skills and knowledge covered in this unit of competency; the three years’ experience can incorporate full and or part time experience.


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