Civil unrest or civil disorder can range from small protest groups right up to mass gatherings of violent and riotous people with intent. In general, these types of gatherings stem from a stand against authority relating to a specific incident or point of view.

In most cases, the source of the outcry is a government or law enforcement organisation that is seen as representing actions or beliefs that oppose the opinion of a large group of people. The unrest occurs when these organisations, in the view of the protestors, have acted inappropriately or are trying to suppress the group and their activities.

Whilst large scale Civil Disorder is not common in Australia, when it does occur, businesses can be affected. The impact can vary depending on the nature of your business or even just the proximity of your business with respect to another target organisation.

Most gatherings, such as traffic blockages and verbal discourse are peaceful and cause minimal disruption to businesses. They are generally a minor inconvenience and business owners will manage around them. However, when the gathering becomes violent and protestors begin causing damage to property, igniting fires, looting, physically and verbally assaulting others or threatening with the use of weapons, there is a much bigger concern for business owners.

The general response to any civil unrest falls to the presiding Police Force who have the responsibility to return the situation to normal.  Depending on the severity of the situation this could extend to a multi-agency response, up to and including the defence forces.

If your business becomes affected by such a civil disorder or unrest, it is important to initially identify the situation, assess what is happening and determine what affect it may have on your business. You should consider whether you need to secure the facility by closing and locking the doors and windows to further protect your workers.

Whatever the source of disruption, businesses need to quickly consider the safety of all workers and all occupants at your facility and where necessary, notify the Emergency Services at the earliest opportunity to advise them of the situation.

Workplace Emergency Management have consultants on hand who can advise on how to prepare your business for Civil Disorder situations. Give our friendly consultants a call on 1300 831 694.


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