Why Risk Management?

Risks are an unavoidable part of our working and personal lives. We instinctively apply risk management practices every day when we buckle our seatbelts, lock our homes, have a check-up at the doctors, even when we look at the weather forecast before leaving home.

What is risk management and why do I need it?

Risk management is a systematic approach to understanding and managing risk that can be applied every day to ensure you are providing a safe environment, protecting the assets, people and reputation of the Church and complying with your legal obligations.

Under workplace health and safety legislation and the common law duty of care, employers are legally required to manage the risks associated with the running of their business. This entails taking adequate steps to minimise reasonably foreseeable risks.

Addressing risks in a methodical way ensures that important issues are not overlooked and that due diligence and duty of care are demonstrated. It is also good business practice.

Benefits of risk management

Risk management is about being prepared for what could happen (negative or positive), choosing the level and type of risk that can be tolerated and proactively treating, or managing any risks with the potential to lead to harm or liability.

The benefits can include
  • The ability to recognise and respond to opportunities
  • Better information for decision making
  • Greater likelihood of achieving your objectives
    and mission    
  • Peace of mind
  • Reduced incidents

Types of risks

A risk can be broadly defined as anything that has the potential to affect the achievement of objectives. Risks are generated at all levels of an organisation and it is important that church organisations understand the risks they face, how they are caused and their likely impact.

Some examples of risks which may be different to those you have considered in the past include:

  • The release of land for new housing brings many young families into a diocese but there is no plan in place to manage the increase in demand for school places.

  • A religious order employs a lay person in a role that has only ever been held by a member of the clergy. While this new person brings valuable skills their understanding of the order's charism and mission is limited.

  • A Parish agrees to hire an old hall to a dance group for regular lessons. The building has not been used for many years and is no longer being maintained by the parish.

When risk management should be applied

Catholic organisations should conduct a risk assessment and develop a risk treatment plan that covers their overall operations and activities. They should also conduct a separate risk assessment and develop a risk treatment plan for major projects, activities and events such as:

  • Camps and excursions
  • Fetes
  • Working bees
  • Building and renovation projects, and
  • Major purchases of capital goods.

Conducting a risk assessment and developing a risk treatment plan should also be a priority after any incident, accident, compliance failure or breach.

If you would like further information about Risk Management, please contact the risksupport Helpdesk on:
1300 660 827
helpdesk@risksupport.org.au