Safe Travel Plans

Safe Travel Plans improve the safety, appropriateness and flexibility of travel arrangements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who need to travel away from home for school.

A Safe Travel Plan means schools, boarding providers and families work together to ensure children arrive safely at school and back home. It also reassures families and communities that children will be safe when travelling to and from school.

Safe Travel Plans give everyone clear instructions on what to do if something unexpected occurs while travelling.

Unless exceptional circumstances apply, a student must have a Safe Travel Plan in place if they are:

  • under 18 years of age (including students who are independent for ABSTUDY purposes)
  • a primary or secondary school student
  • seeking to have Services Australia (Centrelink) pre-book their travel.

Services Australia requires confirmation a Safe Travel Plan is in place before it will book student travel.


The travel organiser, usually the school and/or boarding provider, is responsible for developing a Safe Travel Plan. However, the student’s parents or guardians must also be involved.

Schools and boarding providers should develop relationships with other schools, boarding providers or similar organisations in transit points. This will help plan for support in the case of disrupted travel and increase potential supervision opportunities.

The school and/or boarding provider is responsible for keeping a record of the plan and giving a copy of the plan to the student and their parent or guardian. If the student is independent for ABSTUDY purposes, the student and the school are responsible for creating the plan.

If the student is in a private boarding arrangement, the parent or guardian and boarding provider are responsible for developing the plan together. In some cases, a school may coordinate the plan on behalf of private boarders.

Schools and boarding providers who organise travel for their students and then seek reimbursement through Services Australia are not required to develop a Safe Travel Plan. However, they must ensure travel arrangements are safe and appropriate for their students.

Developing the Safe Travel Plan

A Safe Travel Plan is mandatory for primary and secondary students under 18 years of age if Services Australia pre-books their travel. This includes students who are independent for ABSTUDY purposes. 

It is the responsibility of the travel organiser, in consultation with parents or guardians, to ensure the plan is appropriate.

Services Australia will confirm a plan is in place before booking travel. Services Australia will not book travel if a plan is not in place.

Services Australia also requires contact details for the person who will enact the plan should a student experience a travel disruption.

The plan should be as complete as possible prior to requesting the booking. Plans can be updated with specific information once the travel itinerary is finalised. 

Services Australia does not review, or require a copy of, the Safe Travel Plan. However, it does require confirmation one is in place before it will book travel for a student. 

Emergency contact details for the person responsible for enacting the plan must also be provided to Services Australia.

Once Services Australia receives this information, it will book travel for the student, subject to eligibility requirements.

The school, boarding provider, student and parent or guardian should review the plan before the travel date to ensure it is up-to-date.

The Safe Travel Plan can be in any format as long as it contains the required information to assist the student to travel to and from their school/accommodation safely, including what to do if this travel is disrupted.

You can use the Safe Travel Plan template as a guide. Example travel plans are also included in the template.

What to include

The Safe Travel Plan must contain all the information the student will need during their travel, including what to do if travel is disrupted. 

The amount of information in the plan will depend on the length and complexity of a student’s travel arrangements.  

If the student is travelling with a supervisor for the entire journey, the plan can contain basic information and the supervisor’s contact details.

The plan must outline details and contingencies for each leg, including who will supervise the student at each transit point where the:

  • student is travelling unaccompanied for the first time
  • trip involves multiple legs and connections, 

Travel plans should include:

  • the student’s contact details
  • the parent/guardian’s contact details (mobile numbers preferred, where possible)
  • the school and/or boarding provider’s contact details (including out-of-hours phone numbers)
  • an itinerary
  • supervisor contact details
  • local emergency services contact details
  • emergency contact details for someone who can assist the student if something unexpected occurs during unsupervised legs of travel
  • health information, such as
    • the student’s doctor’s details
    • medicines
    • medical conditions
    • treatment plans
  • key identity card details, such as student ID card number
  • any third-party scholarship provider’s details.

Emergency contacts

If the student is travelling unaccompanied for any part of the journey, an emergency contact must be available for each transit point or leg throughout the student’s journey. This ensures the student has someone who can support them if travel is disrupted.

The emergency contact is responsible for ensuring the student remains safe and supervised.

The emergency contact can be a:

  • family member
  • community member
  • school staff member
  • partner-school staff member.

The school, boarding provider and parent or guardian should agree the emergency contact is appropriate and can look after the student.

Emergency contacts must be available for the entirety of the student’s journey. Services Australia, or the travel management company, will contact the emergency contact if they are made aware of a disruption to travel.

The emergency contact should refer to the Safe Travel Plan and enact the agreed contingency plan to support the student.

Services Australia will not provide supervision for students during their travel or if a travel disruption occurs.

More information

Read more about ABSTUDY Fares Allowance on the Services Australia website. 

For more information about travel reimbursements, please refer to ABSTUDY Fares Allowance information for boarding schools and hostels on Services Australia’s website.

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