Crowds at Dreamworld have suffered since the 2016 accident

 

If you’ve been following the Dreamworld inquest like I have you may have been somewhat alarmed at some of the evidence that has come to light.

Evidence presented at the Coronial Inquiry paints a picture of large scale systemic issues into the operations and management of, what was, Australia’s favourite theme park.

Cost-cutting and budget maintenance is a balancing act for every organisation, but the evidence presented at the Inquest suggests a long-term lack of governance, care and focus on ensuring staff and guest safety.

Under the Corporations Act and the Workplace Health and Safety legislation, failure to exercise due care and diligence may result in hefty fines or even imprisonment, for the directors and officers of the company, that personally owe a duty of care to its stakeholders.

The most notable is Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) legislation. An officer found to have committed a tier one offence, that is, has recklessly engaged in conduct that exposes someone to injury or death is personally liable to a maximum penalty of $600,000 or five years imprisonment. A tier two offence involving a failure to exercise due care and diligence may attract a fine of up to $300,000.

Australian’s almost have apathy for large corporations who are greedy and focus on profits, take the recent Banking Royal Commission, people hear the news, roll their eyes and think “Typical of the banks to be that way”. However, when the cost cutting affects something that people can relate to personally, a theme park, which is meant to be fun, happy and joyful – creating future memories, that same apathy doesn’t seem to apply. Instead there is anger and sadness that a place built for children’s entertainment could have such a lack of regard for the safety of its patrons.

Dreamworld has lost its innocence, and the feeling that it used to evoke, wholesome, family entertainment where the cares of the world don’t exist (…even just for a moment).

Can Dreamworld ever recover when its culture does not support:

  • Staff training, education, and accreditation;
  • Ride maintenance protocols and processes;
  • Written procedures;
  • Compliance with Work Safety Audits

On the first day of the Queensland school holidays this week, the Park was reported as being empty. There were no lines at any of the major attractions and four of the major thrill nine rides were “closed for maintenance.”

How does a business that is being hammered with negative press, that in large part requires the goodwill of local residents, and has had consistent low visitor numbers in the 18 months since the accident, possibly find the resources to assure guests that everything in the park is now in tip top shape?

 

How do they get customers trust back?

 

For many Gold Coast locals and Australian’s alike – it’s extremely sad what has come to light as part of the inquiry, many of us have such fond memories of going there as children or with our children. Many have been on that same ride that tragically killed the four guests, many have taken their children on that ride –not ever thinking that it could have been a death trap. It’s sad for the employees, many of them junior members of staff, who have had to front the inquiry, testify and face media scrutiny.

 

There are six ways to build back trust with customers:

 

  1. Communicate early and often
  2. Make every opportunity count
  3. Reward loyal customers
  4. Convince customers to return
  5. Personalise – put a name and face to your brand
  6. Harness power of local media

It would appear Dreamworld has monumentally failed on all counts – the next session of the inquiry will see Dreamworld Senior Management and Executives called into the witness box. Watch this space.

 

Key Takeaways:

 

Leading an organisation has inherent risk, however the onus is and remains to be on its Directors and Senior Management to ensure that risk is mitigated and appropriate controls and procedures are in place. Directors and Senior Company Officers have a duty to their customers and employees, to act diligently and with due care. Events like these can sometimes be a timely reminder that over time without proper controls, workplace practices and procedures complacency can set in.

 

Read More: Directors’ Responsibility Dreamworld Tragedy