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Talking event safety at The Business of Events conference

Take steps towards event safety, says security expert

Posted on May 6th, 2019 in Event News, Event Safety, Event Security

No matter what size of event you’re organising, the safety of your guests, staff and speakers has to be one of your key considerations.

While the idea of a terrorist attack may seem farfetched to some, Danny Baade, director at CorpSec International, spoke to the audience at The Business of Events conference 2019 about some simple steps that each event organiser and venue owner can take to minimise risk.

One of the key resources he mentioned to help you with your planning is the government’s Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places hub.

The current threats

While figures for the most recent years show Australia has not been a major terrorist target, this relative safety isn’t guaranteed to continue. Based on a scale of ‘not expected’ to ‘certain’, Australia’s current threat level is set ‘probable’ – giving the country a high risk of an attack.

Attacks of this type are normally aimed at large groups of people, so the events space is a high-profile area. Whether it’s an event in an exhibition centre, a sports ground or a civic place, there are major areas of consideration for safety.

On top of this is the public perception of danger. Research has shown that the average Australian wouldn’t be surprised by an attack on our country, so putting steps in place to minimise risk can give them peace of mind.

Danny said, “If you’re looking at sentiment in the Australian community, most people expect it is going to happen here – so there’ll be no surprises for the Australian community when it does occur, there’s just the shock of dealing with it. It’s an expectation. That’s really important when you consider they’re your clients. What does that mean for them when they’re going to a venue?”

The government’s Crowded Places strategy

 You may find the idea of minimising risks to be a bit overwhelming, but thankfully the government has put together a resource to help.

This is important if you’re the owner or an operator of a crowded space, which is defined as anywhere with 20 or more people where you have encouraged or invited people to turn up.

If you hire a venue, depending on your agreement, you may inherit the vulnerabilities of that venue if they don’t have a plan in place. So, when you hire a venue, it’s important to have that discussion. Essentially, you have some level of responsibility when you’re creating an event that brings people together.

The government’s strategy is freely available online and includes documents such as security audits and self-assessment tools, plus a whole host of information about protecting crowded places, to help get you started.

What are the main talking points here? Danny summarised the information as making sure that you undertake a duty of care to take steps to protect people.

He said, “They’re not describing every single thing you could do because they know it’s impossible to mitigate risk; everyone knows it’s impossible to make everything safe. Certainly, in counter-terrorism, the thing is mitigation. It’s reducing the impact, not eliminating terrorism. Duty of care is to take steps to protect people as best you can.”

How do you get started?

 Knowing that there are no expectations to make everything perfect can make the process a lot easier to get started, which is what the key to success is. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Sometimes having a written plan of what to do is enough. Sometimes having conversations with staff about protocol can make a huge difference.
  • Speaking with local law enforcement agencies is a wise move. Together, you can come up with stronger and more effective plans.
  • This kind of planning doesn’t happen in a vacuum, so integrate your safety plans with your other strategies, such as workplace health and safety or your normal operational procedures.
  • Go through the documents made available by the government and implement any improvements you can.
  • Work to your own budget and make affordable, pragmatic improvements where you can.

One of the key points that Danny stressed was that it was vital to work with other agencies, such as local emergency services. Using a logical framework approach, this helps event organisers know who’s doing what so that there aren’t multiple people trying to do the same thing if something were to happen.

He said, “Logical framework approach was developed in 1969. It really took its place in history around the recovery of countries from war or famine. It enabled governments to come together.”

“It was really interesting for private sector as well because they were able to use that theory and work collaboratively with other organisations where they weren’t all trying to feed the same child, they weren’t all trying to restore the same well. they all agreed to do different things in time, they specialised. It allowed them to share burdens, identify all risks and each own some of them.”

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