A safe and fair environment

A safe and fair environment

Macquarie University PACE is committed to the safety of our students and the fair work practices of our partner organisations. To become a PACE partner there are several important checks that must be maintained to ensure a safe and fair workplace environment for all involved.

The University also has an obligation to ensure our partner organisations are providing a safe environment for our students and that any risks or potential risks associated with a particular activity are assessed and mitigated.

The University undertakes a risk assessment of all activities. Where potential ‘out of the ordinary’ tasks are anticipated, more detailed assessment may be required.

Sometimes it may be necessary to ask the partner organisation more questions or for one of the University's Health and Safety or other staff to visit the site before the activity is approved. In most cases the risk assessment process will be relatively simple, provided sufficient information about the activity and any associated risks has been provided by the partner.

To find out how more about the roles and responsibilities of PACE partners download our Governance and Guidelines booklet.


Under the University's insurance coverage, students engaging in a PACE activity are covered by:

  • Personal Accident Insurance 
  • Public Liability Insurance 
  • Travel Insurance (when the journey is over 50km or overnight accommodation is required)

The insurance cover is valid for the duration of the approved activity, providing the student is enrolled in an approved PACE unit and that the activity has not commenced prior to the official unit start date. Students may, however, apply to undertake their activity before the official start date, but in this case the PACE Activity - Early Commencement Procedure must be followed to ensure coverage under the University's insurance policy.

Background checks

Some partner organisations may require students to complete certain background checks and/or clearances in cases where students will be working with children, young people, people with disabilities, the frail-aged, at-risk clients, and government/statutory agencies.

Background checks/clearances may include: Working with Children Check, National Criminal Record Check, health screening/immunisation, and/or completion of other documentation.

The Unit Convenor or the Faculty PACE Manager will consult with partners about:

  • any required clearances;
  • who will arrange for the clearances to be obtained; and
  • who pays for the clearances where there is a cost incurred.

It's very important that partners complete the required background clearances before beginning their activity.

Fair work act 2009

The Fair Work Act 2009 recognises formal work experience arrangements that are a mandatory part of an education or training course. These arrangements are referred to as vocational placements, as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • the host organisation must be a 'national system employer'
  • the placement must be a required component of the student's course of study (all PACE activities meet this requirement)
  • the student must not be entitled to remuneration
  • the course or unit offered by the educational provider must be authorized under a Commonwealth, State or Territory law or administrative arrangement (all PACE activities meet this requirement).

If the above criteria are met, a student undertaking an unpaid PACE activity will be viewed by the Fair Work Ombudsman as undertaking a valid vocational placement under the Fair Work Act. This also means they are not classified as 'workers' by the Fair Work Act and are therefore not entitled to the minimum wage and other entitlements provided in the National Employment Standards and modern awards. If a student is being paid to undertake the PACE activity, they are classified as an employee and all relevant entitlements and provisions relating to employees apply to them.

Please note: The Fair Work Ombudsman has advised that if a student and host organisation agree to extend an unpaid placement beyond the duration required by the University, or if a student undertakes tasks or activities outside of what is required by the University, the placement may no longer meet the vocational placement exemption. In these circumstances both parties should consider the nature of the relationship and whether an employment relationship has formed.

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