The Tension

The Tension; Duty of Care and Dignity of Risk


In Canberra a girl was playing on a playground flying fox when a boy pulled on her legs causing her to fall and hit her face on the platform. There were teachers supervising the students at the time but they were in a different area when the accident occurred. The family sued for negligence, but were unsuccessful.

The court said “it is not reasonable to have a system in which children are observed during particular activities for every single moment of time. Such a requirement is damaging to teacher–pupil relationships and is likely to retard the development of responsibility in children.”

In an earlier decision, the South Australian Supreme Court held that there is “a fine balance between discipline and supervision on the one hand and freedom of action and inculcation of independence on the part of students, on the other hand”.

These findings describe the tension betweenDuty of Care and Dignity of Risk.




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