About the Australian Climbing Instructors' Association

The Australian Climbing Instructors' Association (ACIA) is an incorporated body formed in 2000 by the merger of state based professional climbing instructor organizations. The Climbing Instructors Association (CIA), incorporated in Victoria in 1990 and including NSW, and the Rockclimbing Instructors Association of Queensland (RIAQ) dissolved as separate state bodies and now operate under the national banner of the Australian Climbing Instructors' Association. More recently Western Australia has also joined the ACIA. Its formation was driven by a desire to unify climbing instructor accreditation nationwide, to improve the quality of instruction, promote environmental sensitivity, and liaise with government and related bodies.

As well as providing training opportunities, the ACIA aims to promote the interests of its members on a range of important issues: insurance, access, land management, and national recognition of qualifications. The Association has been active in providing input to the process of producing a nationally accredited framework for outdoor leadership qualifications, the National Training Packages.

The ACIA is the leading rockclimbing instructor qualifying body in Australia, recognized by more private businesses and educational organizations than any other qualifying body.


The ACIA is managed by a voluntary advisory board, consisting of a president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary, and up to 12 committee members with representatives from each of the participating regional organizations. The Association employs a part time executive officer and a regional officer in each state. The executive officer is the central contact point for all members and regional officers. Certificates of accreditation are recognised nationally, and a registry of qualified guides is maintained. This is available through the national office and can also be viewed on the website.


Membership is open to anyone who agrees with the aims and goals of the ACIA (below). Full membership fees are currently $85 per year or $160 for 2 years and provide for the ongoing operations of the organization. For this fee, the member will be on the national registry of guides, have voting privileges, receive all ACIA benefits (professional discounts) and receive a bi-annual newsletter. An associate membership of $25 is available for organizations (gyms, climbing schools, etc.) or non-accredited individuals who wish to support the Association.


  1. Represent the interests of professional rockclimbing instructors and guides.
  2. Promote professional standards of rockclimbing guiding and instruction which include: nationally recognised standards of guiding and instruction, commitment to environmental and cultural sensitivity and sustainability, commitment to high quality climbing instruction & guiding, and adherence to the code of conduct.
  3. Liaise with other organizations and stakeholders involved in cliff based activities on a regional, national and international level.
  4. Encourage the development of a body of knowledge through ongoing research, training, assessment and other related activity.
  5. Assume an advisory role to land managers, educational institutions, peak activity bodies, government, and quasi-government agencies on issues of importance related to cliff environments.


The emphasis of the scheme is on providing opportunities for training and an incentive for instructors to increase their experience and abilities. The association tries to avoid being overly prescriptive in its approach, believing that the development of good judgement in all aspects of climbing is of primary importance.


For more detailed course information such as course schedules, costing etc please contact Lee at our National office.

ACIA levels

The ACIA operates with five distinct levels of qualification. These levels are sequential and each builds upon the knowledge, skills and experience of the lower levels. At each level there is a training course and subsequent assessment, separated by an interim training period with a logbook requirement.

Top Rope Guide (TRG)

Entry criteria: Must have a keen interest in working in the rock climbing industry in a top rope or abseil situation and have some experience in climbing and associated skills. There is a preliminary TRG training course available for those with little or no experience with knots and anchors or placing of traditional gear (wires, hexes, cams etc.) This is the only level where the instructor is not required to lead climb. No previous guiding experience is necessary. Individuals who satisfy the assessment requirements at this level will be competent to conduct top rope climbing and abseiling sessions.

Single Pitch Guide (SPG)

Entry criteria: Must be a competent and independent lead climber on traditional gear up to a minimum of grade 10. No previous guiding experience is necessary. Individuals who satisfy the assessment requirements at this level will be competent to conduct single pitch climbing and abseiling guiding (single pitch only).

Multi-Pitch Guide (MPG)

Entry criteria: Must have completed Single Pitch Training, or gained an exemption from this training through the national board of the ACIA. Individuals who satisfy the assessment requirements at this level will be competent to guide people on MP climbs and abseils and must lead climb to a minimum of grade 14.

Climbing Instructor (CI)

Entry criteria: Must have completed the training for Multi-Pitch Guide. A high level of technical competence must be demonstrated (i.e. onsight leading grade 16, or other means).Individuals who satisfy the assessment requirements at this level, will be competent to teach others to be independent climbers (top-rope and lead climbing) and abseilers.

Instructor Trainer/Assessor (ITA)

This level of qualification is required of all instructors working on ACIA courses. To be involved in the delivery of ACIA courses individuals must be a current CI and demonstrate the judgment and experience required to conduct assessment of the previous levels. It is also necessary to participate in a negotiated apprenticeship system with current ACIA assessors.

A St. Johns Level II First Aid Certificate (or equivalent) will be required by instructors at all levels to be considered current.

Qualified guides at all levels will be required to be fully paid up members to maintain their currency along with a self-reporting system as to maintenance of their skills and instructional experience every two years.

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