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Risk management

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In making decisions where there is an element of risk, it is useful to apply some common sense - as opposed to denial at the one extreme or paralysing caution at the other. Here are some questions that might be useful to explore:

  1. What is at risk? Is there a risk to life or health? risk to property? both of these?
  2. How severe are the possible consequences?
  3. How likely is it that the risk will occur?
  4. What can be done to minimise the risk?
  5. If appropriate actions are taken how effective can they be expected to be?
  6. What other support or resources can you draw on in managing this risk?

Issues and risks you might face include:

  • Fire or Theft
  • Personal attack
  • Weather conditions
  • Illness
  • Personal issues
  • Personal wellbeing and mental health
  • Injury
  • Alcohol and Drugs
  • Civil unrest
  • Personal hygiene

In making decisions about managing risk, remember:

  1. Your safety and security, and that of other participants in the project, is the first priority.
  2. The interests of the project come second.
  3. You should feel confident that your decisions in relation to managing risk will be respected and supported by the Centre in a climate of confidentiality and protection of your professional interests.
  4. All of these issues should be discussed with La Trobe’s Risk Management Unit before your first trip to the field.

In the event that something does go wrong, you should be aware that:

  1. The University has a duty of care towards its staff and students.
  2. Staff and students are expected to communicate with the University about any bad experiences or difficulties that you encounter. It is in your interest to do so, so that appropriate support can be offered.
  3. There are advocacy and support systems available through the University and beyond that can assist in any situation.
  4. The most lasting damage occurs when problems are not acknowledged and managed appropriately - they can resonate through a whole career or mean that a career is abandoned.
  5. You are entitled to seek help in whatever way you think is most appropriate. This may include counselling (paid for by the University), claims for additional medical expenses or claims for additional leave.

While this is all true, it may not help you if you have an immediate need and cannot reach La Trobe easily. Therefore it is important to have

  1. Local support networks, people with some local influence who can arrange to get you easily out of the village into a safe location such as a hospital.
  2. Enough money on you to pay for quick transportation in an emergency.
  3. Knowledge of the location of local hospitals, doctors, police stations and so on, in case you might need them.
  4. Knowledge of local travel agents who can help arrange travel back home, if needed.