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Protecting our people

Risk management and work health and safety

Australian Red Cross, in conjunction with Mongolian Red Cross Society, worked with the Orkhon soum community in Mongolia to identify the risks the community faced from disasters such as fire and flood. As a result, they provided equipment and training to enable the community to form its own fire service. Australian Red Cross / Mareike Guensche.

Managing risk

Red Cross is a complex organisation requiring a structured, strategic and proactive approach to managing risk. We use a customised risk management framework known as ‘RiskSmart’, created by Deloitte Australia and customised for Australian Red Cross, which is consistent with the global AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 standard.

The nature of our work, from supporting people experiencing mental illness to sending health care workers into war-affected areas, can be inherently high risk. Therefore, our cultural attitude is to be risk smart – or intelligent about managing risk – rather than risk adverse, both in Australia and further afield.

As a unique not-for-profit organisation with many roles and responsibilities carried out by members, volunteers and staff, the framework was developed to be user-friendly for everyone. For example, international volunteers use risk assessments to guide decision making and our Board use the risk management framework to assess high-level contracts.

A comprehensive organisational risk register identifies key risks and reports existing controls and mitigation strategies to the Audit and Risk Committee and is managed by the National Risk & Insurance Manager. All services and programs must complete detailed risk assessments. These are formally evaluated and reviewed annually, but are considered a living document and are discussed, updated and reviewed within team meetings regularly.

Through these assessments and the implementation of controls we can successfully mitigate risks by reducing their likelihood and/or impact. In the past year, we have seen a significant risk reduction in potential risk areas, including motor vehicle incidents, work health and safety, contract management and compliance, working with people with challenging behaviours and continuity of service delivery.

Improving work health and safety

We continue to work towards our vision of being harm free. We have particularly focused on our key three work health and safety (WHS) strategic objectives: consultation, hazard inspections and reporting.

We encourage our workforce to proactively contribute to WHS issues and solutions and ensure staff and volunteers have access to WHS information. Key to the consultation process are the WHS Committees, which are responsible for ensuring adequate numbers of WHS representatives, wardens and first aid staff and volunteers, as well as monitoring the timeliness and effectiveness of corrective actions taken. Each state/territory has its own WHS Committee, and this year, volunteer WHS committee members were recruited in some states/territories for the first time.

Red Cross undertakes hazard inspections at each workplace at least twice a year. Our aim is that all Red Cross people report near misses, incidents and hazards, and that managers investigate and implement appropriate actions to prevent future harm. In January we introduced a new online hazard and incident reporting database (iHAWC) to make it easier for hazards to be quickly reported. This system has made a significant difference in our ability to provide timely and accurate WHS data to managers and the Board. Additionally, the data allows each group to make informed decisions to reduce WHS risks.