Risk Management

Crown reserves are used for a wide range of public purposes such as environmental and heritage protection, recreation and sport, community halls and open space. People have the right to access and enjoy our Crown reserves, and would expect to do so without undue risk to themselves or others—including future users and the reserve itself.

Risk management picureManaging risk on Crown reserves is a key responsibility for Crown land managers (CLMs). Effective risk management is crucial in protecting people (staff, contractors, volunteers and visitors) from injury or death on public land; protecting the land and its natural and built assets; and providing security from financial, reputational, legal or administrative damages.

Risk areas for CLMs relate directly to the reserve purpose and its use. For example, a showground, a cemetery and a bushland reserve all have very different risks. CLMs must consider their own circumstances and identify the risk areas specific to their Crown reserve.

Typical risk areas common to most CLMs include:

  • health and safety—includes staff, contractors, volunteers and visitors
  • environment and land management
  • emergency management
  • financial management
  • asset management—includes buildings, infrastructure
  • administration—includes compliance with legal requirements.

The Crown reserve code of conduct (the code) outlines the standards of behaviour the department expects of CLMs. The code is aligned with broader community expectations that Crown reserves will be managed with transparency, integrity and good governance. Adopting consistent standards and behaviours will help to instil public trust and confidence in the integrity and professionalism of the Crown reserve system.

Having a risk management process in place is a significant component of demonstrating compliance with the code.

Risk management process

Effective risk management is a continual process. It involves systematically asking:

  1. What could go wrong?
  2. What would the impact or result be?
  3. How likely is it to happen?
  4. How can we prevent or minimise the impact or result?

For some high risk activities—such as working in confined spaces, large scale events and planned major works—it is mandatory to undertake a risk assessment under other legislation such as the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Conducting a risk assessment is recommended where there is:

  • a new activity being undertaken on the reserve
  • uncertainty about the impact of the hazard
  • a number of different hazards and limited understanding on how they may interact
  • changes that may impact on the effectiveness of the control measures.

There are a minimum of four steps in any risk assessment, which must be repeated periodically to ensure effectiveness: identifying risk, assessing risk, controlling risk and reviewing the controls.

Risk management circle

Controlling risk involves identifying and implementing all reasonable achievable solutions for the elimination or minimisation of a risk, within available resources.

When considering risk control options for health and safety hazards, one or more of the following strategies should be implemented, listed from the highest level of effectiveness and reliability to the lowest level:

  1. Elimination of the risk
  2. Substitution, either in part or whole, of the hazard with something safer
  3. Engineering controls
  4. Administrative controls
  5. Personal protective equipment

Throughout the risk management process it is important to record your assessment and the actions taken. A completed risk assessment will inform everyday business decisions and assist in communicating with internal and external stakeholders.

CLMs are encouraged to use the Risk assessment template

Hazards to consider when conducting a risk assessment

Hazards to consider when conducting a risk assessment - The table lists some common hazards that may apply to Crown reserves. These are examples only, not an exhaustive list.
Risk area
Examples of hazards common to many Crown reserves—not an exhaustive list

Health and safety

  • Working at heights
  • Food safety
  • Confined spaces
  • Dangerous substances – chemicals, fuels, asbestos,
  • Electrical
  • First aid
  • Slippery and/or uneven surfaces
  • Access to water (river, creek, dam)

Events / venue hire

  • Security
  • Waste
  • Requirements specific to type of event/activity
  • Noise
  • Permits
  • Service of alcohol
  • Emergency procedures

Environment and land

  • Contaminated soil
  • Pests
  • Dangerous trees
  • Weeds
  • Chemical storage
  • Biosecurity
  • Theft
  • Tax
  • Cash handling
  • Fraud
  • Insurance
  • Tenure (leasing / licensing)
Assets – building and other
  • Road / pathway surfaces
  • Exits
  • Building safety
  • Facilities – toilets etc.
  • Electrical
  • Historical buildings
  • Lighting

People – staff, volunteers, contractors, visitors

  • Inexperienced or new personnel
  • Mental stress
  • Unsupervised children
  • Bullying and/or harassment


  • Vehicles / traffic
  • Vehicles and machinery (using and servicing)
  • Moving parts


  • Fire
  • Evacuation plan
  • Flood


  • Compliance with legislation
  • Record keeping

Online Risk Register

The department provides non-council CLMs with the use of a Risk Register accessible via the Reserve Portal.

This Risk Register supports CLMs in managing risk by providing a framework to assess potential risks and actual risks occurring on reserves. CLMs are encouraged to proactively assess risks and use the register.

The register also allows the department to monitor identified risks and aid land managers, as required.

Training video

Watch a demonstration video (8 minutes) on how to use the Risk Register.

Related legislation and other resources

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