School fined $300,000 over student’s horse riding death

Sarah Waugh
Sarah Waugh

Australian education provider TAFE NSW has been fined $300,000 over the 2009 death of a student in a horse riding accident.

Sarah Waugh, 18, from Newcastle, died from injuries received in a riding accident while a student on a TAFE (Technical and Further Education) NSW course at Dubbo on March 24, 2009. TAFE NSW is a major provider of vocational education and training.

Waugh suffered fatal head and spinal injuries in the accident when she fell from a mount named Dargo during a jillaroo course.

In the Sydney District Court on Monday TAFE pleaded guilty to breaching occupational health and safety laws, and said that its staff had failed to check the history of the horse for use by beginner riders.

Waugh’s father said: ‘‘Despite all of this, no person is yet to take responsibility for the myriad of mistakes that were made, and to compound it all it is still possible that an incident like that which killed Sarah could happen again.’’

In 2011 Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund, who presided over the inquest into Waugh’s death, said that Dargo had been “patently unsuitable for use with beginner riders”.

The inquest was told that the horse, hired by TAFE from a supplier was a former thoroughbred racehorse who had raced about six weeks previously.

About three weeks before Waugh’s death another student had been in difficulty controlling Dargo.

Waugh was unable to control Dargo when he bolted, resulting in the fatal fall.

The trainer teaching Waugh lacked formal training and assessment qualifications and had little formal experience in teaching beginners, the court was told.


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