Reef Program Making a Splash with Schools

The Great Barrier Reef Education Experience Program is making a splash with Queensland schools and supporting tourism jobs for the Palaszczuk Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said to date 36 schools had been approved for the Great Barrier Reef Education Experience.

“More than 1,556 students from the Gold Coast to Cook Shire will be packing their bags for a school excursion experience of a lifetime on the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“They’ll travel to the reef during this year’s third and fourth terms.

Schools in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Mackay, Cairns and Fraser Coast have also been approved for a Reef Education Experience with Government support of between $40 to $150 per student.

Excursion destinations for the first group of 36 schools include Port Douglas, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Yeppoon and Bundaberg. 

Member for Cairns and Assistant Tourism Minister Michael Healy said more than 45 registered marine tour operators had jumped onboard the program.

“Like many cities, Cairns is looking forward to the arrival of our first cohort of young reef explorers and the boost they will bring to our visitor economy,” Mr Healy said   

“I’ve been working closely with marine tour operators through the pandemic and the Great Barrier Reef Education Experience is a welcome initiative up and down the reef,” Mr Healy said.

“Reef tours are popular with overseas visitors, so marine tour operators were among the first to be walloped by the pandemic’s closure of the international border.

“Marine tour operators are experts in their field and know the Great Barrier Reef better than most.

“They’re keen to share their intricate knowledge of the reef with the Queensland students who will be the future guardians of our State’s biggest living asset.

“With the help of marine tour operators, the Reef Education Experience will bring students face-to-face with the coral and marine animals that make up this unique and fragile ecosystem.

“It gives the next generation an unrivalled opportunity to get a better understanding of the complexity and care of the Great Barrier Reef for the future.      

“The Great Barrier Reef Education Experience is a win for student learning, a win for the reef and a win for marine tourism operators keeping their businesses afloat during the global pandemic.”

Mr Hinchliffe said the Palaszczuk Government’s Holiday Dollars campaigns helped Cairns and Whitsundays marine tour operators get more Queenslanders out on the water for an unforgettable reef experience.

“And now our Great Barrier Reef Education Experience is harnessing new opportunities for operators to share their expertise,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Supporting reef operators and tourism jobs shows our COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan in action.” 

For more information and school application forms go to:


Queensland Government Minister for Tourism Industry Development and Innovation and Minister for Sport, The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe

Media: 0427 475 089.   


QLD Education Experiences – Great Barrier Reef Trip

Schools can apply now for subsidies of up to $150 per student for excursions taken to the Great Barrier Reef 

The Great Barrier Reef Education Experience Program is an opportunity for Queensland schools to undertake excursions to explore and discover this World Heritage area

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the world’s largest coral reef system with some of the richest biodiversity on the planet – recognised as one of the world’s most iconic tourism experiences and Australia’s greatest natural attraction. 

The GBR Education Experience Program, delivered by the Queensland Government, provides opportunities for Queensland schools to undertake excursions to travel, explore and discover the GBR.

The three-year program opens up the door to a wealth of learning opportunities within the GBR through the delivery of place-based learning activities which meet the Australian curriculum and support opportunities for students to participate in reef restoration and conservation activities.

Applications for the education subsidy are now open to schools for excursions undertaken from Term 3 2021 to June 2024 or until funding is exhausted.

The program will provide up to $150 per student paid directly to schools to go towards the cost of a school excursion. Details on the subsidy include;

  • A school excursion to include a reef experience with one of the registered tourism reef operators
  • A flat rate subsidy of $40 per student for eligible day excursions
  • Subsidies from $55 up to a total of $150 per student will be available for overnight itineraries depending on distance travelled.
  • Applications for the education subsidy are open to schools for excursions undertaken from Term 3, 2021 to June 2024 or until funding is exhausted.

To be eligible for the subsidy the school excursion itinerary must include at least one curriculum-related reef activity, facilitated by a commercial reef tourism operator registered with the program, operating within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage boundaries.

Commercial Reef Tourism Operators registered for the program satisfied the minimum program requirements which include:

  • COVID safe plan in place
  • Blue card for all staff engaging with students
  • capacity to facilitate an eligible reef experience that aligns to the Australian and Queensland School curriculum
  • permit to operate within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area boundaries
  • capacity to provide the risk assessment documentation and safety advice required by schools for the activities being undertaken; and
  • recognised by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as a High Standard Tourism Operator
    and/or recognised by Tourism and Events Queensland as offering a Best of Queensland experience; or a marine research provider. 

A Great Barrier Reef Education Experience Teaching Resources Guide has been developed for both teachers and reef operators for use.  The Guide includes a range of fact sheets and study materials that is curriculum-linked for all year levels, from early learning to grade 12. The Guide can be accessed here

For further information about this exciting program delivered by DTIS with program partners the Department of Education, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Tourism and Events Queensland visit