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Parks Eco Pass operations manual

You must submit a detailed operations manual when you apply for a Parks Eco Pass. National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) need to have a good understanding of your business policies and procedures so that we can assess your application.

What is an operations manual?

An operations manual provides details of the policies and procedures of your business, including environmental and cultural practices and safety measures.

Your operations manual should confirm that you have:

  • high-quality and extensive knowledge, experience and skills in all aspects of your activities
  • appropriately experienced, qualified and trained staff
  • a sound understanding of safety and environmental issues related to your activities and effective risk management procedures.

You may already have an operations manual. However, to ensure that you have included enough information please address the required sections below. We cannot commence assessment of your application until we have information on all these areas. A general operations manual from your parent company is unlikely to contain enough specific information on your Parks Eco Pass activities in our parks.

What to include in your operations manual

1 Business name, aims and objectives

Include details of your company or trading name and a description of your business or tourism product, including the activities you want to conduct in the park. You may also attach a certificate of registration of your company, a business registration certificate and/or a letter of financial viability from your accountant.

Include a brief outline of your business 'vision' or mission statement. You may want to add details from your business plan, such as your target market, your unique selling points and what you hope to achieve for your clients by operating in our national parks.

2 Product description

Describe the products and programs that you wish to provide in the park. Include details of:

  • the types of activities (such as guided bushwalking)
  • the locations you visit
  • the duration of your tours.

You may wish to include the information provided in your brochures and other promotional material, including key attractions and a program guide. You should include the objectives of the activity (desired outcomes) and client expectations.

3 Environmental and cultural interpretation 

NPWS expects Parks Eco Pass operators to provide high-quality interpretation of the natural environment and culturally appropriate interpretation of historic and Aboriginal heritage. However, we recognise that the level of interpretive content will differ depending on the type of activity. For example, an adventure activity such as abseiling or white-water rafting may involve less interpretive content than a guided bushwalk. Provide details of the messages you hope to convey through your tourism or recreation product and the content of your programs.

It is important to note that if you wish to undertake detailed, rather than general, Aboriginal cultural heritage interpretation on country, on-site or otherwise, you must employ or otherwise engage members of the relevant Aboriginal community to undertake the interpretation, unless the appropriate representatives of the relevant Aboriginal community have given specific authorisation to the person delivering the detailed Aboriginal cultural heritage interpretation and have approved the content of that interpretation.

General interpretation includes information in the public domain, the traditional name of a place and its meaning and the traditional names of the local Aboriginal communities.

You may only promote or identify yourself as a provider of Aboriginal heritage interpretation if you have engaged a member of the relevant Aboriginal community to undertake that interpretation or have obtained authorisation and approval as outlined above.

4 Minimal impact practices

As a Parks Eco Pass licence holder, you should carry out your operations in an ecologically sustainable manner. By informing and educating your clients you can also play a key role in encouraging minimal impact practices.

Specific environmental sustainability and minimal impact practices and expectations will vary depending upon your type of activity. Provide details of how your business will fulfil its environmental responsibilities. You may wish to endorse the seven 'Leave No Trace' principles as part of your operations manual and give specific examples of how you comply with these principles in your day to day operations.

5 Staff management and qualifications 

You must ensure that all your guides and employees have and maintain the relevant competencies and skills for leading and guiding your activities. 

You must also ensure that you carry out your business activities in a safe and reliable manner under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Outline your WHS policies and procedures. You may like to review your WHS responsibilities at the SafeWork NSW website.

6 Risk management and Emergency Response Plan

You must provide and maintain an Emergency Response Plan for each activity which outlines procedures to be followed in the event of a natural or another disaster, injury, illness or delay. Foreseeable risks should be identified and strategies should be developed to avoid or minimise these risks. Your plan must include information to assist your staff to minimise the escalation of the situation, the injuries incurred, and how to reduce the likelihood of further incidents occurring.

Your industry body may well provide established risk management guidelines that you may adapt to your specific business. However, your plan must be specific to your planned activities.

Your staff must be familiar with your Emergency Response Plan and able to access a copy when carrying out the activity. Provide as much detail as possible to properly assess and manage risk in your business operations.

Your Emergency Response Plan should include details on the following areas:

  • identifying hazards and assessing risks
  • managing risks
  • incident and emergency response procedures and a copy of your activity incident report
  • client to staff ratios
  • activity equipment standards
  • first aid qualifications and equipment
  • equipment maintenance and replacement procedures
  • weather contingencies
  • documentation and record keeping.
Page last updated: 06 August 2018