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Risk management

Awareness of your club’s legal obligations and commitment to quality and safety are critical in today’s sporting environment. If you serve on a board or committee, risk management is one of your key responsibilities.

About risk management

Risk management is the course of action you take to reduce potential legal liability. It seeks to address potential problems before they occur.  Risk management aims to be pro-active rather than reactive - creating a safer environment and legally safer operational procedures.
A common mistake clubs make is to view risk management as a program in isolation. It is really an ongoing process that should be applied to all your club’s policies and procedures.

Benefits of risk management

  • Better sporting or recreational outcomes
  • Improved safety for participants, officials, spectators and volunteers
  • Lower costs and increased budget certainty
  • More effective management of assets, events, programs and activities
  • Improved compliance with the law, regulations and other formal requirements
  • Enhanced image and reputation.

Risks facing sport and recreation organisations

The inherent nature of sport and recreation means that risk areas are broad. Some general risks that could apply to your sports club include:

  • Not being incorporated
  • Not complying with Child Protection legislation
  • Not having a member protection policy
  • Not requiring participants to sign a waiver or release form prior to participating
  • Providing equipment and facilities that are not safe for intended use.

How to manage risk

All key people, including board members, management and volunteers should be involved in every step of the risk management process. Managing risk may seem daunting. To make the process easier, break the risk management process into achievable steps by following this checklist.

  • Appoint a risk manager - responsible for the risk management process
  • Identify ‘key’ people (ie. head coach, event manager, finance director) who will be involved in managing risk
  • Determine the club’s risk management context
  • Identify risks – what can happen, why and how?
  • Analyse risks
  • Evaluate risks
  • Design a risk elimination and reduction plan
  • Implement the plan
  • Develop and implement a clear communication strategy on risk management
  • Communicate the strategies to all appropriate levels of the club
  • Ensure the board addresses risk management periodically as a meeting agenda item
  • Monitor and review strategies at least annually and report to the board through the risk manager
  • Ensure the board has adopted and implemented a risk management policy.

Risk management approach

The Australian Standard on Risk Management (AS/NZ ISO 3100:2009) and the Guidelines for Managing Risks in Sport and Recreation (HB 246:2010) set out a systematic approach you can use to manage risk

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