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Shelly’s Blog

When I think about what is important to me, I usually choose happiness and safety – a coupling that is both inspiring and confident.

Happiness is a wonderful lived experience; it feels like our heart is doing a joyful dance and we feel lighter and motivated to add value to ourselves and others.

Safety generally beats to a different drum; yet it can and does bring a form of happiness.  A sense of being secure and experiencing pleasure are important aspects of being happy and content.

Our friend safety can be about our physical, sexual and emotional well-being; it can be about job security, driving a car, walking across the road, a plethora of topics.

Safety is something we hope for and sometimes due to external factors we cannot always attain.

For me, safety is always at the forefront of my mind because I have a responsibility to ensure people are respected and protected.

At Dundaloo we are very serious about safety and when providing service we provide what is called “Duty of Care”; our duty of care is a legal duty to take reasonable care to avoid others being harmed.

If we identify a reasonably likely risk of harm, we must take reasonable care in response.

It is reasonable not perfect. Why?

Well we cannot predict all circumstances and the principle of reasonable care recognises that services have limited resources and limited ability to protect people from harm’s way all of the time.

Duty of care is not an absolute duty to prevent all possible harm. It is a balancing act: weighing up a range of issues before deciding what level of precaution is reasonable in the circumstances.  We cannot take away people’s rights because it suits us or makes us feel safer.

Obviously where abuse or neglect are involved such matters are dealt with, it is when a person’s human and legal rights come into play that is can become complicated. It also relates to a person’s competency to make decisions but again that can be complex.

Duty of care is easy when it is black and white, when we can predict what will happen; it is challenging when it moves into the grey because that’s when it becomes about another person’s right to live their life and make their choices. If a person is not breaching the laws of the land, then he/she can make choices that others might disagree with.

This can become very tricky for a service provider, such as Dundaloo; we can only intervene when there is high risk to a person causing harm to themselves or others.

Then we also have competing risks as an employer, as we have a duty of care to our employees; justly they have a right to expect to work in a safe environment and not to be subjected to physical or verbal violence.

Yes, it is a balancing act and the law says it is about what a reasonable person would do under those circumstances; we can’t go about making up rules to suit ourselves.

In the end it is about investing in each other’s well-being, striving to achieve the rights of all people and investing into the happiness of each other; it is a challenge, yet fundamental to everyone’s right to live a life of meaning and value.