Nurses like Amanda McClelland need detailed risk assessments when dealing with outbreaks such as Ebola in Sierra Leone.
Tommy Trenchard/WHO Weekly

The positive reputation of Australian Red Cross and our dedicated people are our greatest assets. We rely on them to secure the public and financial support needed to deliver our humanitarian programs helping people in need.

To protect our reputation, our volunteers and staff, and the beneficiaries of our services, we operate under a well-structured, strategic and proactive risk management strategy.

Our goals in risk management are threefold:

  • improve business operations;
  • protect our staff, volunteers and the people we help;
  • minimise liability.


Our customised risk management framework, ‘RiskSmart’, is modelled on the global AS/NZS ISO31000:2009 standard, designed in collaboration with Deloitte. It guides how we define, communicate and investigate the potential and actual risks faced by our organisation. We follow a consistent process to gather information, agree on solutions then implement and review their effectiveness.

All our services, regardless of budget or size, complete risk assessments and promote risk awareness at all stages of the planning, implementation and evaluation processes. Risk assessments on major contracts are reviewed on a quarterly basis. Our services, business processes and practices are subjected to vigorous external and internal auditing by Deloitte and Ernst & Young to ensure that we are operating to the highest standard and using effective risk management techniques.

Risk-smart workforce

Some of our activities can be high-risk, such as purposely sending employees into environments experiencing conflict. To allow us to continue this important work, we adopt a cultural attitude of being risk-smart rather than risk-averse.

Many of our risks relate to the people we assist and the services we deliver. It is imperative that risk management is not kept solely at a board and executive level, but that we educate our volunteers, staff and other people on the front line in risk management. We train Red Cross people, such as caseworkers and social workers, to perform their own risk assessments to identify and prevent risks from occurring.

One of the greatest challenges we faced this year was the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. We provided various kinds of assistance to those who were suffering and helped to minimise the spread of the disease. Entering this environment required extremely strict risk management protocols, such as reviewing our insurance program and preparing for medical evacuations, if required. Our strong risk management systems allowed us to successfully deliver humanitarian aid and assistance in the midst of an unprecedented outbreak.


We continue to educate our people on our comprehensive insurance program, which includes policies for public liability, professional indemnity, motor vehicles, property, voluntary workers, personal accidents, workers’ compensation, employment practices liability, crime, travel and international travel. In the past year we have seen a significant increase in the organisational knowledge of liability and indemnity risk, with a reduction in the number of liability-related risks and claims.