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Reef Check Australia

Frequently Asked Questions

My question is about:

Reef Check Australia course

1. When is the next Reef Check Australia training course?

For full timetables click here.

2. How much is the Reef Check Australia training course?

Module 1 Course introduction (compulsory to all courses)          cost: $50. ($45 students)
Module 2 (Substrate Surveys)                                                    cost: $245 ($225 students)
Module 3 (Invertebrate Surveys)                                                cost: $245 ($225 students)
Module 4 (Video Surveys)                                                         cost: $120 ($100 students)
Module 5 (Fish Surveys)                                                            cost: $245 ($225 students)

Modules 1, 2 and 3 are normally taken together at a total cost of $495 ($395 students). 

If you sign up and pay full fees for all five modules together you get a 10% discount ($774 or $648 students). 

The course costs cover the training manuals, tuition and training dives (tanks and weights are provided but you must supply your own diving equipment).  Further information on training courses.

3. Are there student discounts?

Student discounts are available.  Upon presentation of a valid student card the combined cost of the Course Introduction (Module 1), Substrate (Module 2) and Invertebrate (Module 3) identification is $395.  There is also a $20 discount available to students on Modules 4 and 5.

4. Does Reef Check Australia offer scholarships?

If you are on a Reef Check Australia volunteer placement for 6 months or more, Reef Check Australia will cover the cost of your training. We also provide two scholarships per year (Feb & Sept): a) for applicants who are suffering from financial hardship and b) an indigenous scholarship to enhance the exchange of knowledge with traditional owners. Further details of these scholarships are available upon request.  Those who receive scholarship placements must commit to participate in a minimum of 10 survey days within 1 year of your training course and must also write an article about their RCA experience.

5. What are the course pre-requisites?

To take part in a Reef Check Australia training course you must be qualified to Advanced Open Water Diver level or equivalent and have a minimum of 25 logged dives.  You must also supply your own diving equipment (excluding tank & weights). You dive kit must also include a dive knife, whistle and inflatable safety sausage.  You must be able to understand and communicate in verbal and written English.

Please note that due to Queensland government and insurance requirements all Reef Check volunteer surveyors must be qualified to Rescue Diver level or equivalent, have documentary proof of a minimum of 50 dives, and hold current senior first aid (or equivalent) and oxygen provider certificates.  Please note that your first aid certification must be a recognised Queensland qualification. Unfortunately PADI Emergency First Response and Oxygen courses do not meet this requirement.  (Please note PADI Emergency First Response for Work Cover NSW is accepted.)

6. Do Reef Check Australia conduct diver training?

Reef Check Australia is a registered PADI resort but we DO NOT conduct diver training.  However we have close affiliation with many dive shops who do conduct training. (See our Supporters section for contacts.) Our course is accredited by Scuba Diving International (SDI), PADI and NAUI and upon completion you will gain a card acknowledging your specialty experience. Most of our instructors teach our course as a PADI specialty.

7. Where are Reef Check Australia training courses held?

Reef Check training courses are currently held in Townsville, Cairns, Port Douglas, the Gold Coast and soon in the Sunshine Coast.  We are seeking expressions of interest from divers in the Mackay/Whitsunday area with the view to running a training course and setting up a Reef Check team in the region during 2009-10.  Please email support@reefcheckaustralia•org if you are interested.

8. Do I need prior knowledge of marine biology to participate in a Reef Check Australia training course?

No. The Reef Check Australia training courses have been designed to allow anyone with the required qualifications (see Question 5) to participate.  In the Course Introduction you will become familiar with coral reef ecology and, through a series of classroom sessions and training dives, you will learn everything you need to know to be able to accurately identify Reef Check Australia target organisms.

9. Do I need to speak English?

Yes.  Reef Check Australia courses are conducted in English.  You must be able to understand and communicate in written and verbal English.

10. Is the course difficult?

The Reef Check Australia training courses have been designed to allow anyone with the required qualifications (see question 5) to participate.  Modules 1, 2, 3 and 5 require some home study and to pass a classroom and practical test at the end.  If you don’t pass first time, don’t worry, we will go over the areas you are having difficulty with and allow you to take the test again. The training programs have been specifically designed to ensure participants will be able to collect valuable high quality monitoring data on coral reef health upon completion of the course regardless of their prior knowledge of coral reef ecosystems.

Volunteering with Reef Check Australia

11. Is there a Reef Check Australia team in my area?

Reef Check Australia teams currently operate in Townsville, Cairns, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.  We are seeking expressions of interest from divers in the Mackay/Whitsunday area with the view to running a training course and setting up a Reef Check team in the region during 2008-9.  Please email support@reefcheckaustralia.org if you are interested.

12. Is there a minimum time commitment when you become a Reef Check Australia volunteer?

Reef Check Australia relies on its volunteers to complete its surveys, therefore once trained, we hope you will be actively involved.  However, we understand that volunteers will have other commitments and therefore do not require a minimum time commitment from them; you can volunteer as little or as often as you like.  If you have received a scholarship you are required to participate in a minimum of 10 survey days during 1 year of your training course as well as write and article on your experience with RCA.

13. How much does it cost to go diving with Reef Check Australia?

Once you are qualified to become part of a Reef Check Australia many of our survey expeditions are free-of-charge.  Where fees apply towards food or fuel we aim to keep these as low as possible.  We are supported by many of the dive operators along the Great Barrier Reef coast and therefore you will get the opportunity to visit many spectacular dive sites.  Please note that expenses such as food, travel and accommodation are not covered by Reef Check Australia. Certain liveaboards trips do attract additional charges to cover fuel and food costs, however the vast majority of our operators provide free of charge berth space.

14. Do I need my own dive equipment?

Reef Check Australia advises that you purchase your own dive equipment.  Not only will this be less expensive and easier than hiring equipment in the long-run, but you’re your familiarity with your equipment will help you to maintain the good buoyancy control necessary to complete a Reef Check survey.

15. Do I need my own insurance?

Reef Check Australia recommends that you become a DAN member, which covers you against emergency evacuation from a dive site.  Plase note that medical insurance is offered by DAN at an additional cost to cover you against diving injuries and accidents.  QLD Ambulance cover will provide emergency evacuation from the scene if you can prove that you are a QLD resident.

16. Do I need to speak English?

Yes.  Reef Check Australia survey briefings are given in English therefore you will need to understand and communicate in verbal and written English.

17. I don’t dive, can I still get involved?

Yes.  If you like to snorkel on the Reef but don’t dive you can participate in Reef Check’s new EcoAction program.  Through purchasing an underwater guide you can learn to recognise the types of coral, invertebrate and fish that Reef Check monitor whilst in the water.  Once you are familiar with these organisms you can complete surveys on the attached slate and assist Reef Check scientists by submitting your data online.

If water isn’t your thing, Reef Check Australia headquarters is always in sometimes in need of people who have specific skills or can help towards organizing an event.  If you are keen to get involved please email support@reefcheckaustralia.org.

18. Can I join other Reef Check teams once trained?

Yes.  If you are planning to move within Australia then just let us know and we can put you in touch with your nearest coordinator.  As the Australian course is the most comprehensive Reef Check course in the world, you will also be more than adequately prepared to join Reef Check teams in other countries. Please review the list of global coordinators for details of Reef Check activities in your intended location.

19. Do I have to pay to join other Reef Check teams once trained?

Once trained, diving with Reef Check Australia is free-of-charge (bar expenses such as food, travel, fuel and accommodation in some cases).  This is because we have a unique arrangement with many of the dive operators who provide us with in-kind berth space.  Diving with international Reef Check teams will usually incur a local charge to cover costs. Please note Reef Check teams survey coral reefs in more than 80 countries around the world including many developing nations. Whilst access to dive sites is free-of-charge in Australia, this may not be the case in other countries. Please review the list of global coordinators for details of Reef Check activities in your intended location.

20. How do I find out about international Reef Check expeditions?

Please review the list of global coordinators for details of Reef Check activities in your intended location.

Reef Check Australia volunteer placements and internships

21. How long does a volunteer placement/internship last?

Reef Check Australia usually asks that you make a 6 month full-time commitment to working with them although individual circumstances will be considered.

22. When is the best time to do a Reef Check Australia volunteer placement/internship?

Reef Check Australia has two intakes each year (one in January, one in July) although individual circumstances will be considered.  The Reef Check Great Barrier Reef survey season takes place between January and June each year, then for the rest of the year surveys are done on local inshore reefs in the Townsville and Palm Islands region. 

23. Do you take applications from outside Australia?

Reef Check Australia welcomes applications from outside Australia.

24. Do I need to speak English?

Yes.  Reef Check Australia volunteers are required to be able to understand and communicate in verbal and written English.

25. What are the visa requirements?

Reef Check Australia has arrangements with the Department of Immigration as a Special Program so you may be eligible to apply for a Special Program visa to volunteer with us for the duration of your placement.  This type of visa does not allow you to work during your stay in Australia.  Please contact us for further information. 

Other individuals (in eligible countries) choose chose to apply for their own Casual Working visa to enable them to fund their stay (conditions apply).  Visit the Australian Immigration website to find out more about visas.

26. How much will it cost?

Reef Check Australia is unable to provide financial support or housing to its volunteers.  You will need to consider if you have sufficient funds to support yourself whilst volunteering with Reef Check and travel to and from Australia if you are coming from overseas.  Rent in shared accommodation is around $80-100 AUD per week.  We recommend that you budget for $200-$250 AUD per week.

We encourage applicants to source funds for their stay though local grants, rotary or lions clubs.  We are unable to advise you on potential sources of funding for your local situation but can provide a letter of support for your application.  Some ideas on raising funds can be downloaded from our website.


27. Where can I buy EcoAction products?

EcoAction products are sold locally through dive and tour operators.  The Underwater Reef Guide is also available to purchase online

Project setup and collaboration

28.       How do I go about setting up a new Reef Check Australia project?

Whilst the Reef Check protocol is an open source tool to enable community members to participate in coral reef monitoring, all projects in Australia that bear the Reef Check and Reef Check Australia trademarks must be coordinated through our head office in Townsville, Queensland. These requirements are essential to ensure that all Reef Check projects in Australia are fully compliant with accredited Reef Check Australia’s training standards, data collection procedures, dive safety, insurance and legal requirements.   

To set up a new project you must submit a project proposal and be prepared to raise your own funds through grant applications, partnerships with local organizations and community groups and dive operators to gain in-kind support.  If you would like to establish a new Reef Check Australia project then please thoroughly review all the information on this website, and consider the following factors before drafting your proposal for consideration.

Draft proposals should include the following information:

  • A description of the proposed project (circa 500 words)
  • The location of your proposed project
  • The duration of your proposed project
  • Details of how the project will be coordinated/managed
  • The project coordinators qualifications and previous experience
  • And an approximate budget for the proposed project and how you intent to raise funds (please note that Reef Check Australia Headquarters requires a minimum of 15% of total the project budget to cover administration, marketing and data management).

Please note that we are not currently anticipating expanding Reef Check monitoring sites beyond those we have already established prior to 2009. Instead our focus is upon consolidating the training programs that we have in place and increase the pool of trained volunteers in each location. Hence new project proposals will only be reviewed once per year in October 2007 and October 2008.

29.       How do I go about conducting some collaborative research?

Contact your local academic institution for further advice.
30.       I would like to conduct my Honours/Masters/PhD project in conjunction with Reef Check Australia?

Reef Check Australia has several partnerships with academic institutions and works with students and staff on mutually beneficial research projects. We do not have the administrative capacity to provide a brokerage service for research projects hence please only submit proposals that already have the funding and backing of an accredited academic institution. Reef Check has limited funds to conduct our established monitoring activities, whilst we may be able to include in-kind support for research projects where they clearly align with our Vision / Mission and research aims we are unable to provide financial support for these proposals. If you have a proposal that you believe meets the preceding criteria please provide a brief description of your area of interest along with a copy of your academic resume. Please include information on your proposed supervisors and the proposed budget for the research.

We are particularly interested in collaborating with researchers whose projects focus on:

GIS ~ as a communication tool for community participation.
Advanced data analysis – review of our current long-term data set.


31. Where is the Reef Check Australia head office situated?

The Reef Check Australia headquarters is situated in the Citilink Building on Flinders Street Mall.  The office is on the back left of the ground floor, underneath Tropical Bodies gym.

32. Not found what you are looking for?

We are delighted that you are interested in Reef Check Australia and want to answer your question, however, please bear in mind that we have limited administrative resources.  We ask you to help is by making sure that you have searched the website fully and read the FAQ’s before contacting us directly.  If your question still isn’t answered then please email us at support@reefcheckaustralia.org and we will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.  

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