Was the Dreamworld Theme park crisis handled properly?


Australia’s Queensland theme park tragedy left 4 people dead. ‘Thunder River Rapids’ as it is popularly known, experienced its worst tragedy two days ago. It happened when a vacant car got stuck in the conveyor belt and the car following the stalled car, which had people in it, rammed onto it. According to the reports, the vacant car had flipped back onto the car with people and they were thrown out and eventually got trapped in the conveyor belt and water below.

The public and the families of the victims are asking many questions.  Queensland police are investigating the cause of this accident. The theme park remains closed and hundreds of mourners have paid their respect.


In such situations, those accountable, right from the very top should show empathy. They should be honest and truthful. When it is not, it can be a major loss of trust and the reputation. Watch this...!  


It appears that they did not have well-rehearsed Crisis Management Plans. The company’s AGM just after two days should have taken a different tone, if at all it had to be conducted. As the media reports say, the focus was on profits and dividends, not on the tragedy. It was ironic to hear that the CEO Deborah Thomas did not know how to contact the families of the victims.

When an incident occurs, you cannot take decisions on the fly. The leadership team must come together and do the right things and every second counts in a situation like this.

The four key things that need to be considered in a ‘crisis’ situation are;

  1. The impact on ‘People’,
  2. The impact on Reputation
  3. The impact on Stakeholders and
  4. The impact on the ‘Environment’.

They should be addressed in a collaborative way to get everyone onto your side and respond quickly.

However, some internal incidents could also trigger off a ‘crisis’. They are, financial mismanagement and fraud, breach of regulatory compliance, and operational breakdown. Corporates should constantly keep a watch on protentional threats and have mitigation strategies in place. It all boils down to one thing. That is ‘incident and crisis preparedness’.

How companies manage the media is also part of the process and it should be done honestly and sincerely, by a trained staff in that aspect, may be the CEO or any ‘C-level’ executive.

The lessons we can draw from this most unfortunate incident are

  • Have well-rehearsed crisis management plans
  • Be empathetic toward victims and their families
  • Focus on the four key impacts and respond quickly
  • Have a well-prepared media communication strategy and a process in place
  • Be honest and truthful in all communications
  • Collaborate with all stakeholders and get them engaged during the resolution process

You may also like:

Filed under Improve My Bottom Line. Posted by The Corporate Toolbox on