This paper is concerned with an element of contemporary society that forms. the backdrop for some of the contradictory expectations and practices that currently bedevil community organisations in Australia. This element is the idea of risk, or more pertinently, the construction of the idea of risk society. The argument presented is that there are two different interpretations of risk, risk as threat and risk as opportunity. Each interpretation is examined to reveal the ways in which it affects community organisations in Australia. The paper concludes with the view that both ways in which risk is constructed are being used as part of the rationale for new forms of control.