Unit of competency details

SISOCHC004 - Set up and supervise challenge course sessions, high elements (Release 1)


Usage recommendation:
Supersedes SISOCRP404A - Supervise a high ropes sessionNot equivalent. Title changed. 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

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 supervise activity leaders and 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 complete routine visual inspections of course elements, select and set up a sequence of challenge course activities to meet participant needs, to establish belay systems and to monitor participation across multiple course elements. It covers skills for complex rescues.

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

It applies to senior activity leaders or challenge course supervisors who work independently using discretion and judgement to manage operational logistics, risk, and any significant problems when they arise.

Leaders and supervisors 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

SISOCHC003 Lead challenge course sessions, high elements

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. Complete visual inspections.

1.1. Complete visual inspection of high course elements before commencement of sessions according to organisational schedule and procedures.

1.2. Confirm no obvious damage to high course elements.

1.3. Confirm integrity of safety systems.

1.4. Inspect course site and surrounding area for hazards according to organisational schedule and procedures.

1.5. Complete required organisational reports to confirm safety.

1.6. Report on and escalate issues of immediate concern according to organisational procedures.

2. Prepare high element activities and equipment for participants.

2.1. Identify characteristics, abilities and needs of participants.

2.2. Select a suitable sequence of high element activities to meet requirements.

2.3. Select activity equipment according to requirements of known participant characteristics and for general admission participants.

2.4. Establish any additional equipment required for high elements; complete safety and serviceability checks and reports.

3. Set up belay system.

3.1. Select and assess condition of anchors along course for attachment of safety lines and belays.

3.2. Select harnesses and belay system suitable for the course element, conditions and participant.

3.3. Choose a belay device suitable for the situation and belayer.

3.4. Complete safety and serviceability checks on equipment and action faulty equipment according to organisational procedures.

3.5. Establish participant belays, and self-belays suitable for rescue circumstances.

3.6. Select and tie appropriate knots and rig ropes suitable for load and function within the belay system.

3.7. Verify manufacturers' recommendations, equipment limitations and safety margins, and rig equipment accordingly.

3.8. Complete safety checks on rigging according to organisational procedures.

4. Supervise high element activities.

4.1. Monitor multiple course elements and performance of belayers and participants.

4.2. Provide corrective instruction of technique through explanation and demonstration, as required.

4.3. Direct and supervise activity leaders to ensure safe and positive conduct of all activities.

4.4. Monitor participant and leader adherence to safety procedures and correct breaches, as required.

4.5. Respond immediately to hazardous situations and promptly assess risks to minimise risk of injury to participants and others.

4.6. Direct leaders to amend activities if risk is unacceptable or cease activities when required.

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

5. Rescue participants or others from high elements.

5.1. Determine appropriate rescue methods and techniques for situation, according to degree of urgency and condition of person in need of rescue.

5.2. Determine roles and responsibilities of others and provide clear and concise instructions throughout rescue.

5.3. Use appropriate approach procedure for element to provide direct rescuee assistance.

5.4. Operate rescue system to lower persons from high elements.

5.5. Provide clear and concise instructions and information to person being rescued.

5.6. Safely and efficiently escape a loaded belay system and transfer from belay device to direct connection to anchor.

6. Complete post session responsibilities.

6.1. Dismantle additional equipment, inspect for wear or breakage, tag faults and store in designated.

6.2. Lead debrief with team members to identify sessional successes, problems and difficulties.

6.3. Evaluate and report on feedback from leaders and participants.

6.4. Identify and report on any course or equipment maintenance requirements.

6.5. Provide recommendations to improve activities and safety management.

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 safety and serviceability forms and reports that require factual information
  • produce cohesive reports which clearly represent team and participant feedback and own recommendations through use of persuasive language.

Oral communications skills to:

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

Self-management skills to:

  • critically evaluate successes and failures of challenge course activities to recommend improvements
  • critically analyse all circumstances and implications to report on safety issues and recommend improved practices.

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:

  • prior to commencement of two sessions, complete two visual inspections and complete reports:
  • course site and surrounding area
  • four high course elements
  • for three different challenge course sessions and according to predetermined activity plans:
  • select and set up a sequence of high element activities to meet the requirements of three different participant groups
  • select and set up belay systems suitable for course elements and participants
  • across the three sessions, select and tie at least four different types of knots suitable for the system type established, and appropriate for the intended load and function
  • supervise activity leaders and participants during three high element sessions
  • during each session consistently manage activity leader and participant adherence to safety procedures
  • after each session, lead a debrief with team members
  • utilise options provided in Assessment Conditions to:
  • direct activity leaders to amend activities in response to a total of two safety issues that arise during activities
  • complete a brief written or verbal report to recommend improvements for activities and management of safety issues
  • set up two belay systems suitable for rescues at two different high elements
  • complete simulated high element rescues, using safe approach procedures, to:
  • lower a conscious person on two occasions
  • lower an unconscious person on one occasion.

Knowledge Evidence

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

  • organisational procedures for:
  • safe participant use of high elements
  • emergency response and first aid for high element challenge course sessions
  • for high element challenge courses, organisational:
  • schedule for completing visual inspections
  • items that must be inspected and extent of inspection requirements prior to commencement of session
  • requirements for recording and filing outcomes of inspections
  • requirements for reporting issues of immediate concern including hazardous ones
  • typical environmental hazards found within challenge course sites and surrounding areas and associated risks, to include:
  • unstable trees and tree branches; tree debris
  • tree and tree debris hazards, including falling limbs
  • ground surface hazards
  • spiders, insects, snakes and fauna
  • 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
  • signs of deterioration
  • failures that pose an immediate safety risk
  • factors that affect the selection and sequencing of high element activities:
  • group objectives and session duration for particular client groups
  • objectives of activity participation for general admission clientele
  • participant characteristics:
  • 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
  • season of operation, weather and environmental conditions
  • features, functions, advantages and disadvantages of different types of anchors or attachment points used in challenge course facilities:
  • bolts
  • camming devices
  • wire rope grip
  • shackles
  • working load limits of anchors or attachment points and tension formula
  • issues that are assessed when selecting anchors or attachment points and likely impacts of poor condition on performance under load:
  • wear and abrasion due to age and use
  • corrosion
  • decay
  • dislodgment
  • features, functions, advantages and disadvantages of challenge course high element equipment:
  • harnesses of different types
  • carabiners
  • rope
  • wire rope
  • hand ropes
  • swing ropes
  • pulleys
  • tape
  • sewn sling
  • Prusik cord
  • personal attachment systems, including cow’s tails
  • crab claws
  • thimbles
  • rigging screws
  • turnbuckles
  • staples
  • belay devices:
  • plate
  • assisted locking
  • tubular
  • belay systems:
  • static belay
  • dynamic belay
  • bottom braking belay
  • self-belay
  • how the following factors affect the selection and rigging of above equipment:
  • element characteristics
  • weather and environmental conditions
  • participant size, weight and abilities
  • manufacturers’ specifications for equipment use
  • techniques used to rig belays for performance of rescues
  • when different knots are used, advantages and disadvantages, and how to tie them:
  • fixed eye
  • mid line tied in the bight
  • end to end joining
  • termination
  • load control hitches
  • slide and grip hitches
  • 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.
  • methods used by challenge course supervisors to:
  • roam and supervise multiple course elements, and performance of belayers and participants
  • lead team member debriefs
  • provide overall reports on activity successes, problems and incidents
  • provide recommendations to improve activities and management of safety.
  • roles and responsibilities that can be allocated to team members to effectively complete a complex high element rescue
  • appropriate approach methods for high element rescues:
  • using ladders
  • using ascending ropes
  • approaching via the element
  • approaching from start, mid or finish point of course
  • how these will vary depending on rescue circumstance
  • techniques used for complex high element rescues to include those for:
  • ascending and descending a single rope
  • lowering conscious and unconscious persons
  • securing rescuee and escaping from a loaded belay system.

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

Assessment must ensure use of:

  • a group of participants and activity leaders whom the individual supervises
  • 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:
  • arising safety issues and activity modifications
  • recommending activity and safety management improvements
  • personal protective equipment used to set up high elements which can include climbing helmets
  • equipment to include:
  • established anchors or attachment points
  • harnesses
  • carabiners
  • rope
  • wire rope
  • tape or sewn sling
  • pulleys
  • Prusik cord
  • personal attachment systems, including cow’s tails
  • crab claws
  • thimbles
  • rigging screws
  • turnbuckles
  • staples
  • belay devices
  • activity plans
  • organisational procedures for:
  • safe participant use of high elements
  • emergency response and first aid for high element challenge course sessions
  • organisational schedule, procedures and templates for completing and documenting visual inspections of course site and high elements.

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 supervisor 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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