Culture College understands that risk is an inherent aspect of any school program. However, risk is an essential component of personal growth. Taking risks such as trying new foods, summiting a demanding peak, journeying through undeveloped areas and challenging existing world-views is part of the magic of travel. We believe that the positive transformations our students undergo are a direct result of properly managed risk.
Risk management begins with a process of identifying potential risks, then evaluating their potential outcomes and likelihoods. We use this information to formulate a management plan to mitigate risk through prevention and to outline appropriate response measures. Risk Management at Culture College occurs at various levels but most importantly at the Area Management and Program Management Level.
The first layer of risk management occurs at the destination area level and is overseen by each of our full-time Executive Director and General Manager. They where applicable, develop Area Risk Management Plans and Natural Disaster Plans. These plans, evaluate potential risks, identify precautionary measures, detail management procedures and provide contingency or evacuation strategies. They are furthermore charged with developing and an intelligence network to monitor on-the-ground conditions by utilizing local staff knowledge, and national reporting agencies. These Managers also oversee the hiring and training of staff with certain company requirements for quality and professionalism including but not limited to background checks, age minimums, medical certifications, and in-country training workshops specific to risk management and safety.
The management of risk occurs on each of our programs through the leadership and professionalism of our guides. During training, our guides are taught and develop a thorough understanding of the Program Risk Management Plans for the programs they will be leading and the Critical Incident Protocol. Staff are trained to ensure our students’ compliance with the Culture College Student Pledge, which outlines the rules governing student behaviour on programs. Our guides document incidents for review by Culture College Management. In this way, our system creates a feedback cycle for constant improvement and communication with regards to the management of risk at Culture College. Furthermore we follow the guidelines of the newly formed Australian Adventure Activity Standards (AAAS) to keep up with global best practice in risk management for outdoor activities.
Our students and parents must also have a role in maintaining the safety of our programs. We rely on our students to understand and comply with the rules of our programs, as outlined in our Student Pledge. These rules are distributed to all participants prior to the program and are additionally reviewed during the beginning of the program with the program leaders. We also expect and rely upon students and parents to fully and accurately complete our forms before the program. Information from our medical forms is used to properly screen students to ensure appropriate program placement.
Culture College has created this structure to identify, evaluate and manage risks. At all times, feedback and communication occurs to continually improve our systems and the safety of our programs. Culture College acknowledges that risk is an inherent component of participating in any travel program. We therefore seek to properly manage risk to provide a safe environment for students to grow through their experiences with us.
A risk assessment matrix for each activity will be supplied to the school with risk rating and mitigation strategies and an overall risk ranking. Risk matrices will be specific to each group’s tailored program. One major risk is the weather. The weather will be monitored from Culture College Base Camp and by the program leader in the field. The program leader will be equipped with a satellite phone for regular contact with base. In the event of severe weather conditions, the activities will be centered around the Base Camp.