Forget the tourist image of kangaroos as cute tourist attractions. A Queensland lawyer has described the Aussie icons as nasty, wild creatures whose behaviour has put a Gold Coast golf club facing possible legal action.
A Gold Coast country club had to post kangaroo warning signs after a spate of attacks on golfers from kangaroos. One attack put an elderly woman in hospital.
Gold Coast- based Queensland compensation law expert Bruce Simmonds says a couple of signs warning golfers not to approach kangaroos on the course wouldn’t save the club from being legally liable if the roos attacked people there.
Mr Simmonds, Litigation Director of Gold Coast- based Queensland law firm Parker Simmonds Solicitors & Lawyers, says cutesy images of kangaroos in tourist promotions are misleading.
“They’re wild animals and if they regard you as invading their territory, they will attack you.”
The issue is in the news after media reports highlighted at least one rogue roo was responsible for several attacks on golfers at the Arundel Hills Country Club.
A 69 year old woman was attacked by a large, aggressive kangaroo on the course late last month, suffering ‘significant lacerations’ to her face, arms and legs after the ‘roo attacked ‘without warning’ as the woman was on the fairway.
Mr Simmonds says the issue of liability has become complicated because the Chinese-owned golf club has this week been placed in administration.
While the future of the club is unknown, Mr Simmonds says the wider issue of unruly kangaroos on golf courses may appeal as a novelty TV news item, the reality is the animals can be quite vicious and the risks they pose are understated.
“This problem’s been going on for years. I have had clients injured on golf courses before, not just from kangaroos but other hazards such as falling tree branches.
“Golf clubs – the owners of the golf course- are legally liable if someone is injured on that property due to the property owner’s failure to remove a safety hazard or sufficiently warn users of the presence of a risk,” he says.
All golf courses should be subjected to strict risk assessments and safety risks identified. This is even more important given the numbers of older people now using golf courses.
Mr Simmonds says it’s become common for golfers to be attacked by kangaroos and people need to stop thinking of the animals as cute tourist icons and see them for what they are- wild animals that can be vicious.
“In Queensland you need to watch out for kangaroos and crocodiles. After the recent floods in North Queensland there were reports of crocodiles washed into people’s backyards.”
“While the public is accustomed to encountering kangaroos at zoos and animal display attractions, it’s a whole different world if you intrude on their world and they’ll attack you.
“Golf courses are a common habitat for roos and the owners of the golf course can’t just put up a warning sign and write off their legal liability if players are attacked by wild animals” he says.