Event Planning Guide

1. Before you Begin

Coordinating an event is time consuming and resource intensive. To make sure you don’t waste time, money and opportunity, consider the following questions:

What is the aim of your event?

  • Do you want to celebrate a special occasion, raise money for a charity, or build a sense of community?

Who do you want to come to your event?

  • Are you targeting a specific group – young people, seniors, families, special interest groups, bike riders, food lovers etc - or the whole community? 
  • How many people are you anticipating may attend?

What resources do you have to run this event?

  • What is your budget? 
  • Do you have an event committee or a core group of people to help plan and manage the event? 
  • Do you have staff to work at the event or will you be relying on volunteers?

Now you can decide what kind of event will achieve your goals and is possible within the budget and resources available to you. Once you have an idea of what kind of event you want to hold, consider the following:

Where are you planning to hold your event?

  • Outdoors – in a park, public space or on the street 
  • Indoors – in a Council, school, community or other kind of venue available for hire

What approvals do you need?

  • Permits, approvals and licences are required for:
    • Use of Council venues or parks
    • Road closures or traffic disruption 
    • The sale of food or alcohol 
    • Amusements, rides and fireworks
  • Public Liability Insurance cover for a minimum of $20million is required for events held by any organisation, association, sporting club, religious organisation or commercial enterprise.
  • Some permits and approvals must be submitted up to 4 months in advance.

What other events are being staged at the time you propose to hold your event?

  • Do any other events happening at the same time compete for your audience? 
  • Could other events affect the level of media interest in your event, the availability of transport, accommodation and other support services, and the ease of travel to your event?

2. Planning Essentials

The Event Plan

Whether your event is small or large, an Event Plan is essential. Your Event Plan should include:

  • Event overview 
  • Event program 
  • Site plan 
  • Operational Schedule 
  • Roles and contacts 
  • Risk assessment and risk management plan and insurances

Additional plans that may be required, depending on your event, include:

  • Traffic & Transport Plan
  • Waste Management Plan
  • Noise Management Plan
  • Food and Alcohol Management Plan
  • Accessibility Plan
  • First Aid, Emergency Management and Communication Plans     

Record Keeping

Records of the following documents should be kept:

  • Certificates of Currency for Public Liability Insurance for all contractors, stallholders and organising parties, and details of any other insurance policies.
  • Building/owner consent from landowner/venue manager
  • Permits/approvals - any licences, approvals or consents you receive to conduct your event
  • Contracts - any agreements made with suppliers, authorities, performers, staff, volunteers etc
  • Safe work method statements from contractors

Organising Committees

Cover all bases, share the workload and allocate key responsibilities

Having an event committee to help plan and stage the event can not only help you reach the goals for your event and achieve a successful outcome. Consider allocating responsibility for key areas to committee members:

  • Communications / issue management / media
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Entertainment and programming
  • Finance
  • Sponsorship
  • Administration
  • Permits and applications
  • Development and management of the site
  • Contractor management
  • Traffic management
  • Operations - stall holders/amenities
  • Insurance/risk management/occupational health & safety
  • Emergency management
  • Volunteers

3. Budget and Funding

Budget

All events require a budget. Budgets can help to guide an event organiser as what may or may not be possible to produce based on the finances available. Will sponsorship or additional funding be required to execute the planned event? The first step is to detail all your expected expenses and any expected income. 

Expenses may include:
  • Administration overhead costs such as: salaries, office use and office equipment, postage, stationary
  • Publicity such as media (press, radio, digital) advertising, printing, promotional materials, distribution of -promotional material (if applicable) artwork, promotional programs/projects
  • Venue hire and equipment hire (tables & chairs, staging, toilets, stalls, marquees, transport, sound & lighting) 
  • Insurance, permits and licences
  • Services such as security, traffic management and cleaning and waste management.
Income may come from:
  • Grants or sponsorship
  • Donations, individual contributions
  • Fundraising (e.g. raffles, trivia nights/games nights, auctions etc.)
  • Ticket sales, food, alcohol or merchandise (t-shirts, badges, DVDs, posters etc.)
  • Fees collected from stallholders

Sponsorship

Sponsorship can be cash, in kind contribution or any other kind of assistance for your event that provides a positive commercial return for the sponsor. It is a partnership where both parties can gain financial and promotional benefits. When developing a sponsorship plan, consider:

  • All possible benefits for the sponsor e.g. branding on the event website, signage, main stage or merchandise
  • Who is your target group of sponsors - local business, international organisations or national groups?
  • What kind of sponsorship do you want - cash, goods and services, in kind contributions etc.
  • Is it a one-off sponsorship or could you negotiate a long-term commitment for recurring events?
Funding

In addition to Sponsorship, funding sources include:

4. Approvals and Notifications

Event organisers are responsible for obtaining any required permits, licences and approvals as well as any required insurance coverage.

Guidelines and regulations covering things like the safe operation of equipment, waste management, food handling and noise management will be part of the terms and conditions of your venue hire agreement or event permit. These guidelines are strictly enforced and you need to be aware of the requirements.

Remember: check requirements and apply early – some permits require up to 4 months’ notice.

Permits and Regulations

You may need to apply for a permit or Council approval for the following:

  • Road or car park closures
  • Traffic disruptions or need for traffic management
  • Use of footpaths for stalls or entertainment
  • Access through parks by machinery or vehicles
  • Sale of food at stalls or mobile vending vehicles
  • Sale or provision of alcohol
  • Fundraising activities
  • Fireworks or pyrotechnics
  • Amusements such as rides or animal farms
  • Sporting, aquatic or extreme activities
  • Recorded or live music
  • PA systems, amplified music or open-air entertainment
  • Staging, scaffolding or other structures
  • Use of power or generators
  • Waste management – bins and recycling
  • On-site or portable toilet facilities

See the Guidelines page for more detailed information on requirements.

Insurance

Public Liability Insurance cover for a minimum of $20 million is required for all events. This includes, but is not limited to, the below categories of organisation:

  • Incorporated bodies, sporting clubs or associations
  • Religious organisations
  • Commercial enterprises

You should also ensure any contractors you use have appropriate insurance to cover their activities at the event. Ask them to provide a copy of their Certificate of Currency.

Notifications

Depending on the size and type of event, you should notify emergency services and any group impacted by the event at least 3 weeks in advance. Do not notify these groups until your event has been approved by Council, as Council may need to work with you to change the event date or location to proceed with event production

NSW Police

Police may assist with preparing or approving an emergency management plan and for the control of crowds, traffic and alcohol licence compliance. The local commander will decide the level of police assistance required for an event. Fees for policing services may apply depending on the nature and size of the event.

  • Ryde Police Area Command, ph: 9879 9699 

Fire NSW and Ambulance NSW

If you are organising an event such as a street party, fete, sporting event, outdoor concert or another event attracting large numbers of people, notify the local fire station and Ambulance NSW. This will ensure they are aware of your event and any specific risks they may need to respond to. It is also important that you advise them of any potential impact to traffic routes from road closures or congestion.

  • Eastwood Fire Station, ph: 9858 4457 
  • Ryde Fire Station, ph: 9808 2798 
  • Gladesville Fire Station, ph: 9817 4821 
  • Ambulance NSW, ph: 9320 7777 

Local Businesses and Residents

If your event will impact on local residents you notify them with details of your event. A letterbox drop to houses in the surrounding area of your intended event about 2 weeks in advance is required. Local businesses should also be notified of events in their area about 4 weeks in advance.

In your letter, include the name, date and location of the event, why it is being held, what will be happening during the event, what impacts you expect, and a contact number for queries and concerns. 

Some impacts to consider include: traffic or parking congestion on local streets, amplified music near houses or businesses (time noise will occur) and large crowds.

5. Choosing a Venue

When choosing a venue or location for your event, consider the following:

  • Does the location have access to toilets, water, electricity? 
  • Is there shelter available / weather protection? 
  • What will be the impact on the local environment i.e. flora and fauna? 
  • What is the proximity of the site to residences? 
  • What is the proximity to local businesses and are they supportive of the event concept? 
  • Is there public transport close by? Is parking available? 
  • What are the site’s risks and hazards (e.g. bodies of water, cliffs, industry)?

Make your booking enquiries as soon as possible. Some venues and locations are very popular and require booking well in advance.

Council Parks and Sportsgrounds

Approval is required to hold an event for more than 50 people in a park, sportsground or reserve within the City of Ryde. Areas suited to large events include:

  • Ryde Park
  • Putney Park
  • Kissing Point Park
  • Yamble Reserve
  • North Ryde Common

For more information on facilities and features, see the Find a Park or Sportsground page.

Council Venues

Council managed venues available for hire include a variety of large and small community halls that are suitable for medium to large events. A full listing of amenities and facilities at each venue, including floorplans and maps, is available in our Venue Hire section.

Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre also has space available for hire that may suit some indoor events. See the RALC Facilities page.

Eastwood Plaza is a popular location for events such as information expos, stalls and performance. Enquiries should be made to Customer Service on 9952 8222.

Other Venues

There are additional venue options in the City of Ryde not owned by Council, including:

  • School halls 
  • Theatre spaces 
  • Exhibition spaces 
  • Halls

6. Equipment and Facilities

The amenities and equipment needed for your event depend on what activities you will be presenting and what sorts of people will be attending - older people may require extra chairs and perhaps disabled toilets, young children may need a play tent, and mothers may need a baby-changing area. These sorts of considerations are essential to ensure the comfort and safety of people attending the event.

Staging, Stalls and Marquees

Outdoor events may require stages, marquees, stalls and other temporary structures. You may need permits to erect these on Council land. Shelter and shaded areas should be available wherever patrons or staff and volunteers (including First Aiders) may be located for an extended period of time and where weather conditions dictate that it is required. These may include:

  • Transport pick up and set down areas
  • Spectator and official viewing areas
  • Seated eating areas
  • Pedestrian thoroughfares
  • First aid posts and medical centres
  • Disability access areas
  • Competitor and officials marshalling areas
  • Entrances and ticketing areas
  • Optional area for patrons when needed.

Tables and Chairs

Don't forget the importance of good seating and tables, particularly near food stalls and in shady spots. Some seating in front of the stage may be appropriate. Select chairs carefully. Make sure that chairs don't collapse when sat on, and tables don't tip when leaned on. You can hire trestle tables from commercial vendors or you may be able to borrow them from local churches, community centres, schools and service clubs.

A small fee can be charged to stall holders to cover the cost of providing tables and stalls on their behalf. Most commercial companies will have insurance included in their hiring fee. You may have to arrange to transport the chairs and tables yourself or they may deliver.

Toilets and Waste 

It is the responsibility of the event organiser to supply, maintain and ensure adequate toilet facilities are available for event participants. This includes supplying accessible toilets for people with disabilities. If there are insufficient facilities or no facilities on site you will need to provide portable toilets.

The number of toilets required at an event depends on how many people are attending, the duration of the event and if food and/or alcohol are available etc.

Consider:

  • How you will manage cleaning and restocking of toilet paper and soap and emptying of bins for the duration of the event 
  • What kind of signage (directional) and lighting (including surrounding area) is needed 
  • Whether portable toilets will need access to power, running water or plumbing 
  • Where to place portable toilets - they need to away from food storage and food service areas 
  • Whether you need the toilet areas patrolled by staff or security 
  • Having a plumber or appropriate maintenance person available to repair or remove blockages

Power 

The Event Organiser is responsible for arranging the supply and installation of any electrical/power requirements for the event, such as the use of generators, extension cords and cables.

If existing power facilities are not adequate, you will need to provide generator units. The strategic placement of generators is an important aspect of any event. Generators should be:

  • Away from areas that require silence (even silenced generators create a droning, bass-heavy noise) 
  • Away from patrons, in a well-lit, secure and safe location 
  • On flat ground in an area that is easily accessible by trucks for delivery 
  • Located within close proximity to required areas to avoid cable difficulties 
  • Generators must be roped off and placed behind barriers 
  • Checked approximately every hour for potential problems

All electrical equipment should have a current Safe Electrical Tag. We recommend employing an electrician to be on site on event day to check, test and tag all equipment. Note that some providers will not allow untagged equipment to be connected to the generator. 
Remember, it is your responsibility to ensure that all equipment and cabling connected to power is safe. Ensure that:

  • Electrical leads do not create trip hazards. If cables can’t be safely hung overhead, they should be adequately protected with cable matts and warnings
  • Lead joints and connections are not accessible to the public or exposed to damp conditions 
  • Food vendors and all groups utilising power facilities are following safe practices.

7. Entertainment and Activities

Live Performances

Entertainment may range from small community amateur groups, commercial entertainers and roaming performers. Ensure material will not be offensive to the target population of the event and that the content is relevant and engaging. Ensure that performer requirements are discussed prior to the event and all parties are aware of their rights and responsibilities. All performers are required to have their own Public liability insurance.

Remember, you have a duty of care in relation to the health and safety of performers at your event. During your risk assessment, identify any potential hazards for performers and take steps to minimise those risks (See the Safety and Security section). Remember also that performers may need facilities in which to change their clothes, do their make-up etc. 

Rides and Amusement Structures

Having amusements such as rides or inflatable structures such as bouncy castles will bring lots of entertainment for families and young children at any event.

As an event organiser you need to ensure that amusements that are used on the day are safe and comply with state regulations. Each amusement device must be registered with SafeWork NSW as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001, Part 5.

Amusement operators require:

  • Their own current public liability insurance no less than $20,000,000
  • Evidence of a current up-to-date service logbook

Animal Nurseries and Farms

Where members of the public are allowed to touch any animals, hand-washing facilities (eg. bathroom or sink) must be readily available on the premises or venue and the members of the public must be encouraged to thoroughly wash their hands after touching any animals. If hand washing facilities are not readily available, you must ensure that members of the public who touch animals can clean their hands with anti-bacterial gel and/or wipes provided and are encouraged by the authority holder to use them.

For more information, see Standards for exhibiting animals at mobile establishments in NSW.

Fireworks

If you want to present fireworks at your event, the following requirements apply:

  • A Pyrotechnician’s Fireworks license must be obtained from SafeWork NSW and provided to Council at least 6 weeks prior to the event.
  • Fireworks are not permitted to be used within 50 metres of dwellings.
  • Evidence of Public Liability Policy (Certificate of Currency) with a minimum of $20,000,000 coverage. 
  • Contact with local fire brigade and police is compulsory and you must advise them of your proposed fireworks display 
  • Fireworks displays are not permitted during a total fire ban.
  • All fireworks are to be completed no later than 9.30pm (Unless authorised by Council)
  • SafeWork NSW may refuse to issue a permit if Council has objections to fireworks on a chosen location, time or day.

8. Safety and Security

The Event Organiser has an obligation to provide a safe environment for the public and to ensure appropriate care, safety and any training requirements are provided for staff and volunteers involved in running the event. This includes contracting specialists in required areas that event staff do not specialise in themselves, including First Aid respondents and on site security when necessary. 

First Aid

It is essential that you provide adequate facilities and qualified personnel to administer first aid. There are many professional contractors you can hire to provide this service at events. St John Ambulance is one organisation that may be available to hire to provide volunteer first aid responders. It is also strongly advised that your event staff have first aid training to assist in the case of emergency. 

Security

Security may be required at your event, either during, before or even after. Security may be needed to assist event staff during the event or possibly to monitor an event site or equipment overnight or out of hours. There are many professional contractors you can hire to provide this service at events. Event Security can help to provide a feeling of safety for patrons. Particularly when there is high crowd attendance or service of alcohol at an event. Please discuss the exact security requirements with the contractor prior to booking to ensure you have the right guard for the job. For example, an RSA qualified guard for service of alcohol.

Working with Children

It is essential that anyone working with or alongside children at your event including staff, volunteers and event contractors have a valid Working With Children Check number (WWCC). This can be applied for via Service NSW.

Risk Assessment

Event risk assessment and management is the careful examination of your event activities and the surrounding location in order to identify potential hazards and prepare measures to reduce the risk to the lowest practical level. For example:

  • Large events attracting families are at risk of dealing with lost children – how will you deal with this situation? 
  • Outdoor events risk being affected by weather – how would high winds, rain, storms or a heatwave impact your event? The following link to Risk Assessment and Risk Management from the NSW Government's Event Starter Guide will give you an idea of what to consider when planning your event and how to minimise the associated risks: NSW Government Event Starter Guide Risk Management

Emergency Plan

The aim of an Emergency Plan is to minimise the threat to life and damage to property. For Major events, contact your local police to discuss any requirements and to seek advice on any known issues and how they might be managed.

Your Emergency Plan should include details like:

  • Access to site for emergency vehicles – this is essential for ambulance or police entry and exit of your event site, prior, during and post event. 
  • An evacuation procedure - if using a Council owned hall, the building should already have an evacuation procedure in place, check when booking your venue
  • A communications plan - make sure all staff know the chain of command in an emergency and the procedure for communicating with each other and the public. Radio communication for key personnel at Large and Major events is highly recommended.

9. Traffic, Parking and Accessibility

When choosing a suitable venue, don’t forget to consider how people will get to and from your event. 

  • Is there public transport nearby? If not, is there plenty of parking available? 
  • Could people in wheelchairs, parents with prams, older people and children get to and from and around the site easily? 
  • Will your event have an impact on local traffic, the availability of parking and public transport? 
  • How will you provide access to and from the event venue for equipment drop-off, performers, stall holders, emergency vehicles and special guests?

Impact on Local Residents and Businesses

If your event is in a residential area or at a quiet local park, think about traffic flow and what streets will be most affected by the increase of traffic – both cars and people. You will need to alert local residents and businesses to make them aware that the event is being held. This can be done via a letterbox drop with details about the event and what you plan on doing to minimise any disruption. In addition newspaper notices and advertising of the event can assist in notifying people from the affected area.

Public Transport

In advertising the event, suggest what transport options are available. For events close to public transport, you may even wish to suggest patrons leave their cars at home where possible.

Road Closures and Traffic Disruptions

If your event requires the use of roads or footpaths, the closure of roads or changes to traffic or public transport routes, you will need to prepare a Traffic Management Plan (TMP) and submit this to Council for discussion to the Traffic Committee. As the committee meets every two months, you should plan on providing a TMP four months prior to your event. Representatives from Transport for NSW, NSW Police and Local Members of Parliament sit on the Committee.

For more information on traffic management, see: 

10. Guidelines

Alcohol service | Children's activities | Fireworks/pyrotechnices | FoodFundraising | Music (live or pre-recorded) | Noise | RidesRoad closures or traffic disruptions 

Please note: the following information is provided as a guide only and all requirements and guidelines should be checked by the event organiser before proceeding.

Alcohol service

Approval required: Yes - Liquor Licence
Regulating body: Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, ph: 1300 024 720 
Submit application: At least one month prior to event
Fee: Yes 
Guidelines/regulations: Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) certification is required for anyone serving alcohol or providing security for areas in which alcohol is consumed. Signage must be displayed as per legislation.

If you intend to sell or supply alcohol, you need to apply for the appropriate liquor licence from the Liquor Administration Board and submit this licence to the Licensing Police at least 14 days prior to the date of the event. You also need to provide a copy of the licence to Council 7 days prior to the event. Your event may fall under one of these licence categories:

  • Limited licence: A limited licence for a single function allows a not-for-profit organisation, like a sports club or community group, to sell alcohol for consumption during a single event. This licence does not allow for takeaway sales. Common events include: balls, conventions, dinners, exhibitions, fairs, fetes, carnivals, performances, race meetings, sporting events, and other events or activities conducted for public amusement or entertainment, or to raise funds for a charitable purpose.
  • On-premises licence: An on-premises licence allows the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises when another product or service - including food, entertainment and accommodation - is sold, supplied, or provided to customers.

For more information, fact sheets and application forms see the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority website.

Children's Activities

Approval required: No, but entertainers or those running children's activities must have a Working with Children Check.
Regulating body: Office of the Children’s Guardian
Submit application: At least four weeks prior to event
Fee: Yes, however volunteers are exempt from fee
Guidelines/regulations: Working with Children guidelines - see Office of the Children’s Guardian for more information.

Fireworks/pyrotechnics

Approval required: Yes – license from SafeWork NSW and Council approval required for use in parks and public areas 
Regulating body: SafeWork NSW (guidelines), City of Ryde (enforcement) 
Submit application: Notification must be submitted to SafeWork by a licensed pyrotechnician at least seven days prior to event. Council approval requires confirmation of SafeWork notification.
Fee: Yes - notification and single use licence fees apply, see SafeWork NSW
Guidelines/regulations: The use of fireworks or pyrotechnic displays are limited to those holding a pyrotechnician's licence or a fireworks (single use) licence. Single use licences are issued by SafeWork for the purpose of using display fireworks (ground display, Chinese string or theatrical / indoor) for a single occasion / event only. For more information, see the SafeWork website.

Food

Approval required: Not required for food stalls at events run by groups where any profits are directed back to the community (e.g. charities, sports clubs, Rotary clubs, community groups etc).  Council approval is required for stalls selling food for commercial purposes and for mobile vending units. 
Regulating body: NSW Food Authority (guidelines), City of Ryde (enforcement) 
Submit application: Notification needs to be provided to Council Health Officers at least 1 week prior to the event.
Fee: Yes - for mobile vending and commercial food stalls only. Inspections may be required at the event including an additional fee.
Guidelines/regulations: Adherence to The Food Act 2003 (NSW) and Food Standards Code. Inspection of stalls and mobile vending vehicles by Council Health Officers. If food is sold at a fundraising event for community or charitable causes, you are not required to notify the NSW Food Authority as long as the food is eaten immediately after thorough cooking and does not pose a possible health risk. Examples include: school fetes where the proceeds are donated to a charitable organisation, a sausage-sizzle to raise funds for a junior soccer club, a lamington drive to raise money for the victims of a natural disaster, selling chocolates to raise money for a charitable organisation. For more information see the NSW Food Authority website.

Fundraising

Approval required: Permit required for games of chance if the prize value exceeds $10,000.
Regulating body: NSW Fair Trading, ph: 9995 0894 
Submit application: At least 25 days prior to event
Fee: No
Guidelines/regulations: Compliance with the Lotteries and Art Unions Act 1901 and the Lotteries and Art Unions Regulation 2014 guidelines covering prohibited prizes, maximum prize value, ticket formats, allowable expenses and advertising restrictions. Approval is required to conduct a free-entry trade promotion lottery if the total prize value for a single trade promotion exceeds $10,000. More information regarding charitable fundraising and games of chance is available on the NSW Fair Trading website.

Music (live or pre-recorded)

Approval required: Yes - OneMusic
Regulating body: Australasian Performing Rights Association, ph: 1800 852 388
Submit application:  No later than 72 hours prior to event
Fee: Yes 
Guidelines/regulations: Music is protected by copyright law, and if your event includes the performance of either live or recorded music, you will need to source a license from OneMusic. OneMusic is a joint initiative between Australia’s two music rights management organisations, APRA AMCOS and PPCA. These organisations act as a copyright collection agency on behalf of composers, authors and publishers by licensing the use of their music. If your sporting event, concert, festival or event is free to the public, you will still require a OneMusic licence to play copyright music. The licence fee can vary depending on the scale of the event and the type of performances. For more information, fact sheets and application forms see the OneMusic website.

Noise

Approval required: No, but guidelines apply
Regulating body: Environment Protection Authority (guidelines), NSW Police and Council (enforcement)
Submit application: N/A
Fee: N/A
Additional regulations:  Adherence to guidelines under Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2008. For more information, fact sheets and application forms see the Environment Protection Authority website.

Rides and amusements

Approval required: Yes
Regulating body: SafeWork NSW
Submit application: Yes
Fee: Yes
Additional regulations: Certain amusement devices must be registered with SafeWork NSW. There are also requirements around the operation, inspection and maintenance of logbooks. For more information see SafeWork NSW.

Road closures or traffic disruptions

Approval required: Yes
Regulating body: Council, Transport for NSW and NSW Police
Submit application: At least 4 months prior to event
Fee: N/A
Additional regulations: Various guidelines apply in relation to the planning, implementation and monitoring of road closures.  If your event will require road closures or the closure of one or more lanes on a road you need approval from Council's Traffic Committee, the Police and transport authorities. Transport for NSW has a guide to traffic and transport management for special events that can be found on their website.