Flinders University Speleological Society Inc.

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Risk Assessment

FUSSI Insurance Policy

Your hard working, coffee swilling FUSSI executive has been dealing with some legal responsibilities, insurance issues and trip organization processes which have come about due to some fiendish fetish requiring the use of paper work. But fear not, with coffee cup in hand the FUSSI executive has managed to simplify these issues for all our members to understand.

Now if you view admin, paper work, or any discussion of insurance and risk management as:

or view it with as much alarm as a possum about to eat FUSSI dinner as per the photo on the right (or below, or somewhere! Who knows what the browser gets up to!!), you will of course not be alone. Starting with a little bit of War and Peace or errh, umm … background, you’ll need to know the following:

FUSSI became an incorporated body in August 1989. This Incorporation means that we can be sued and can sue. Therefore FUSSI, as a minimum, must:
  • Keep records of what we do, such as: our committee and general meeting minutes, records of equipment usage, and our activities.
  • Not run off with any FUSSI moneys.
  • Be able to explain the transactions and activities of FUSSI and its financial position. All members of the FUSSI executive do this when the executive reports are presented at the FUSSI AGM and published in the FUSSI newsletter. Our activities and trips are similarly explained when written up and published; also in the FUSSI newsletter.
  • The FUSSI Public Officer is responsible for maintaining these records and reporting to the department of Consumer and Business Services as required.
  • FUSSI has to manage risk via having adequate insurances, and risk management strategies in place to reduce those risks. We reduce and manage these risks when we joined the ASF and adopted, for example, the ASF Safety Guidelines, Minimal Impact Caving Code, Code of Ethics amongst others.

Given the legal responsibilities outlined above, FUSSI, via its membership, primarily of the Flinders University Students Association (FUSA) and secondly, of the Australian Speleological Federation (ASF), has further responsibilities relating to this last point.

At this point I expect that everyone’s eyes have glazed over so now it is time for:

Yep, the Latte on the right.

  1. What’s this Risk Management thingy?

    If you don’t understand what risk management is, here is a way of looking at it.

    All sports carry risk, as does walking out the door. Most of us, not all, when we decide to take up a new venture go and find out about it, learn how to do it and then after a while move up the sport’s skill levels which of course translates as undertaking more fun and more risk. Thus in the world of caving, and simplifying this greatly, we move from simply walking/crawling around the maze of Corra Lynn, South Australia’s longest cave, to ropes and ladders and then on to SRT and abseiling.

    The latter three activities involve different skills and training to offset the risks involved, such as an accident or getting lost. This is one of the reasons why we train in belaying, SRT etc. Another, and it is an important reason, is that we wish to visit caves that may need this level of skill to get into and through them.

    We further reduce risk when we tell people where we are going, what time to expect us home for din dins and let an appointed contact person know you have finished caving for the day. Remember the film 127 Hours about a guy who cut his hand off when a falling boulder crashes onto his arm and traps it (and him) in an isolated canyon in Utah? He hadn’t told anybody where he was going and after 5 days manages to amputate his hand (do NOT do this at home!) and is rescued.

    Now you may think it is time to really disappear down a hole in the ground, but just stay with this for a bit.
  2. What’s all this insurance stuff? What does liability mean?

    Here is an example: If you are driving around in the dark on the Nullarbor and drive into a doline, then the landowner is covered in terms of insurance. They are not responsible/liable for the doline being there or your driving into it!

    Similarly, if a club member causes a rock to dislodge in a cave, which subsequently results in injuring members of the party, they have liability insurance in place in case any of those members injured or the member’s family decides to sue.

    As stated before, FUSSI has two lots of public liability coverage, one with the ASF and the other with Flinders University. Just what do they cover?


    The itemized list below has been put together by Phil Maynard, the ASF’s Insurance Commission’s Liaison Officer. It has been published in the ASF Annual Report for 2015/6. 
Phil is a member of the Sydney Uni Speleo Society so he also understands the Uni Public Liability insurance as it relates to a Uni caving club.

    The ASF maintains two insurance policies: the Association Liability policy and the Adventure Activities Combined Liability policy. The two policies are designed to cover liability for:

    • The ASF, the corporate member clubs and their executives against claims for Wrongful Acts, e.g libel.
    • Participants on a trip and the landowners against negligence suits.
    • Cross-liability is included, eg a member of ASF suing another member of ASF.
    • Coverage is world-wide excluding North America.
    • The policies are not accident insurance, medical insurance or travel insurance.
    • The activities included in the Adventure Activities policy are “Cave, Karst & Mine Research, Exploration, Surveying and Recreation, Equipment Testing, Canyoning and Bushwalking, Publishing and Photography, Caving (inclusive Diving) together with training and practice for the above activities as declared”.
    • The landowners' cover is a vital part of the Adventure Activities policy for ASF and its members - it's the difference between access and no access for many clubs already. In future, we can expect more and more landowners to be concerned about the issue of liability caused by allowing trips on their land.
    What is not covered
    • The normal insurance exclusions apply, the most relevant of which is that illegal activities are not covered. Trespass or caving without a permit will leave cavers exposed. All trips must have approval from the landowners.
    • Travel to and from a trip is not covered, because compulsory third party motor vehicle insurance covers the same liability locally, and travel insurance covers longer trips.
    • There is no accident insurance, medical insurance or travel insurance coverage.

    Flinders University General Public Liability Insurance Policy as it applies to FUSSI. This list comes from the University Insurance Officer and from FUSA.
    1. For Public Liability Insurance to be applicable the clubs activity must be in “connection with the Member’s [i.e., Flinders University’s] business”. The university regards the activities of clubs associated with FUSA as its business. However,
    2. Caving as an activity is covered if FUSA approves the Club structure, thus the club and its activities will then be covered. FUSA has approved our club’s structure and constitution.
    3. Should nobody be advised of the activity organized by club members and consequently not approved, then it is not deemed to be covered under the University GPL insurance.
    4. The University does cover all students of Flinders University for Student Personal Accident and for Public Liability while they are registered as a student.
    5. “all activities” must be approved by FUSA, which is then protected under the Flinders University Corporate Public Liability policy. Importantly students need to be totally aware that it is the Flinders University’s desire to know of the activities prior to them happening.
    What is not covered.
    1. Land owners on whose land we go caving.
    2. Illegal entry to property is not covered. As with the ASF's insurance, trespass or caving without a permit will leave us exposed. Thus all trips must have approval from the landowners.
    3. Club members who are not students are not covered by the student accident policy.

So where is all this leading you may well ask? Once again the FUSSI executive, after moving on from coffee to harder drugs, has to make sure that any activity the club runs must follow the definitions and procedures below.

Although this all looks complicated, what we are trying here is to let members know how stuff works. Remember, most of this work is done by the FUSSI committee, but they need to have certain information from club members to help out.

What is a FUSSI trip:
  • A trip can only be a FUSSI trip when the FUSSI Committee decides that it is.
  • A FUSSI member who is not on the FUSSI Committee can propose a trip but they need to do this to and through the Committee, and
  • A trip can only be a FUSSI trip if it is advertised on the FUSSI website at least one month in advance. (It takes time to organize permits, get permission from land owners)
  • Further, FUSA must be informed of all and any trips the club runs so we are covered by the Uni’s Public Liability insurance. This is done by a member of the Committee filling out the FUSA Events form on: http://fusa.edu.au/clubs/events/event-stall-activity-registration-form/ We can put up to 10 events on the one form.
  • Members going on FUSSI trips must supply their emergency contact details to the trip leader. This is done via the FUSSI membership form. These details in cases only of emergency, are to be given to the police. It is the trip leaders responsibility to maintain members privacy details.
  • These details are to be kept next to the FUSSI first Aid kit which goes on all trips or in a prominent place in a car, eg, dash board or front seat.
  • A club member who is not on the trip is to be informed of the trip’s programme and contacted (where possible) at the end of each day’s caving so as to inform them that all members are out of the cave and safe.
So who is on the FUSSI committee and how do you contact them?

In the FUSSI Newsletter and on the FUSSI website is a list of who is on the committee and an email address to contact them. Email: fussi@fussi.org.au

If you wish to run a trip, just contact anybody on the committee and they will get the process going. As everybody tends to be on the busy side, PLEASE allow for time for things to happen: landowners to be contacted, permits to be filled, insurance stuff dealt with, FUSSI members to be informed. Gone are the days when we could decide to go caving on Friday night, just get in the car and go caving on a whim.
Here is the committee list and their powers, from the FUSSI constitution.
  1. President
  2. Honorary Secretary/Public Officer
  3. Honorary Treasurer
  4. Immediate Past President
  5. Equipment Officer
  6. Safety Officer
  7. Librarian
  8. ASF Liaison Officer

What they have to do:

  1. The Committee shall meet at least once each month during the academic year.
  2. The Committee shall have power to make any regulations necessary to put this Constitution into effect.
  3. A member of the Committee shall cease to be a member of the same upon any of the following happening:
    1. He/she submits, in writing, his/her resignation to the Honorary Secretary;
    2. He/she is absent from three consecutive Committee meetings without leave being granted by the Committee;
    3. He/she ceases to be a member of the Society.
  4. The Committee shall have the power to fill any vacancy occurring on the Committee provided that such action is ratified by a General Meeting of the Society, to be held within one month of such action being taken.
  5. The Committee shall have the power to appoint, from time to time, such officers and sub-committee as it deems necessary. The duties of such officers and sub-committees shall be defined by the Committee to which the said officers and sub-committees shall be responsible.

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©FUSSI 2019. Email: fussi@fussi.org.au
(to contact us, copy the above address to your favourite email application)