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Office of Sport

Awareness of your club’s legal obligations and commitment to quality and safety are critical in today’s sporting environment. If you serve on a board or committee, risk management is one of your key responsibilities.

Risk management is the course of action you take to reduce potential legal liability. It seeks to address potential problems before they occur. Risk management aims to be proactive rather than reactive – creating a safer environment and legally safer operational procedures.  

A common mistake clubs make is to view risk management as a program in isolation. It is an ongoing process that should be applied to all your club’s policies and procedures.

  • Better sporting or recreational outcomes
  • Improved safety for participants, officials, spectators and volunteers
  • Lower costs and increased budget certainty
  • More effective management of assets, events, programs and activities
  • Improved compliance with the law, regulations and other formal requirements
  • Enhanced image and reputation.

In sport, the area of risk is inherently broad. Some general risks that could apply to your club include:

  • Not being incorporated
  • Not complying with child protection legislation
  • Not having a member protection policy
  • Not requiring participants to sign a waiver or release form prior to participating
  • Providing equipment and facilities that are not safe for intended use.

All key people, including board members, management and volunteers, should be involved in every step of the risk management process.

Managing risk may seem daunting. To make the process easier, break the risk management process into achievable steps by following this checklist.

  • Appoint a risk manager responsible for the risk management process
  • Identify ‘key’ people (i.e. head coach, event manager, finance director) who will be involved in managing risk
  • Identify, audit and manage the club’s risks
  • Identify risks – what can happen? Why? How?
  • Analyse risks
  • Evaluate risks
  • Design a risk elimination and reduction plan
  • Implement the plan
  • Develop and implement a clear communication strategy on risk management
  • Communicate the strategies to all appropriate levels of the club
  • Ensure the board addresses risk management periodically as a meeting agenda item
  • Monitor and review strategies at least annually and report to the board through the risk manager
  • Ensure the board has adopted and implemented a risk management policy.

The Australian Standard on Risk Management (AS/NZ ISO 3100:2018) provides guidelines on managing risk faced by organisations. 

The application of these guidelines can be customized to any organization and its context.

The Guidelines for Managing Risks in Sport and Recreation (HB 246:2010) set out a systematic approach you can use to manage risk.

Your state or national body is a good first port of call for advice and assistance.


As with any resource, this does not replace obtaining legal advice on each sport specific requirement and it is recommended you do so. 

The information provided in this resource is for your information only.  The authors and the NSW Office of Sport accept no responsibility for the accuracy of the information or your reliance upon it.

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