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News Service 23 – ASQA Clarifies Self-Assurance; Improving Electrical Safe Work Practices; ASIC Endorses defective Electrotechnology Training Package; Smart & Skilled Update 109; Court Decision on Casuals; TAFE system crumbling; Safety and Industry News

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  1. ASQA CLARIFIES SELF-ASSURANCE IS NOT THE SAME AS SELF-REGULATION
  2. IMPROVING ELECTRICAL SAFE WORK PRACTICES
  3. AISC COMMUNIQUE – 12 AUG 2020 MEETING ENDORSES ELECTROTECHNOLOGY TP V2.0 KNOWING IT HAS TECHNICAL DEFECTS
  4. SMART AND SKILLED UPDATE – NO. 109
  5. COURT DECISION COULD MEAN A BETTER DEAL FOR UNI CASUALS
  6. TAFE SYSTEM ‘CRUMBLING FROM NEGLECT AND POLICY VANDALISM’, REPORT WARNS
  7. PUBLIC SAFETY AT RISK DUE TO RAC WORK PERMIT RESTRICTIONS
  8. NEW EXEMPTION CLARIFIES USE OF ELECTRICAL CABLES IN UNDERGROUND MINES
  9. REVISED MAINTENANCE OF COMPETENCE REQUIREMENTS FOR PRACTISING CERTIFICATES
  10. CONSULTATION ON MINIMUM ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS FOR HOUSING CLOSES 31 AUGUST
  11. THE 2020 ISP: A LONELY PLANET GUIDE FOR TRANSMISSION

1. ASQA CLARIFIES SELF-ASSURANCE IS NOT THE SAME AS SELF-REGULATION

In response to News Service 22 (12 August 2020), AQSQ were kind enough to counter the suggestion that they were moving towards a self-regulatory system.  This is indeed good news and it is worth reporting of ASQA’s response in this regard.  Their response is provided below to help clarify and explain the proposed approach:

“I recently became aware of your recent News Service 22 and the concerns you raise about ASQA’s reform seeing a return to provider ‘self-regulation’.

ASQA’s consultation paper specifically addresses this issue by explaining that a move towards greater self-assurance is not the same as self-regulation:

Self-assurance is not the same as self-regulation. Self-regulation often involves industry taking responsibility for regulation, with government having a limited role. The concept of self-assurance requires providers manage their business to ensure a focus on quality, continuous improvement and ongoing compliance with standards set by governments. The role of ASQA, as the regulator is to promote this culture, to monitor each provider’s performance against the Standards, to identify any non-compliance and to support providers to return to compliance (or to take necessary sanctions action where this is not possible).

In fact, implementing a self-assurance approach is an expansion of our risk-based regulatory approach in that it requires providers to implement systems and controls to monitor and manage their own risk of non-compliance and poor outcomes for students. ASQA will continue to monitor and assess provider and sector performance, particularly where data and intelligence suggests a provider’s systems and controls are not achieving the intended outcomes.

I trust this information will assist in allaying your concerns and that the reform ahead will strengthen our ability to regulate the sector effectively and ensure quality outcomes for students, employers and the community”.

ASQA draws a clear distinction between self-assurance and self-regulation and affirms that it is not the same, confirming it is not the approach they wish to pursue. 

To this end it is important that stakeholders review the Consultation Paper that was circulated with News Service 22, and ensure they analyse the details of the proposed model that is envisaged and express their views supportive or otherwise via the consultation process.  There is little substance to subsequently raising concerns with newly introduced practices, if when given the opportunity to submit respective views, no action ensued.

You can submit feedback on this consultation paper here.”

The Consultation Paper titled, “Working Together Towards Effective Self-Assurance”, Version 1.0, July 2020 is attached and can also be accessed from the ASQA website at: WORKING TOGETHER TOWARDS EFFECTIVE SELF-ASSURANCE

PLEASE NOTE: The consultation period will run from Monday 3 August to Monday 31 August 2020.


2. IMPROVING ELECTRICAL SAFE WORK PRACTICES

The Electrical Safety Project (ESP) is all about improving electrical safety.  This means:

  • The safety of electricians on the job, and
  • The safety of customers who use the electrical installations they install, modify or repair/replace.

The Project is aware of an array of anecdotal reports of poor safety practices in the construction industry in general, and in the electrical industry in particular.  In a highly competitive market, significant reasons for these safety problems have been tendered, and they include but are not limited to:

  • Lack of availability of public safety resources, which means electrical contractors, especially micro-businesses, must develop (and bear the cost of) their own.
  • Lack of availability of licensed and competent electricians, (when needed).
  • The cost of good design, quality and cost of high quality equipment (compliant with Australian Standards), and the cost of actually conducting safe work practices.
  • Reliance on self-auditing – there are few inspections of electrical work and contractors are left to audit their own work.

It should be recalled that employers (PCBUs) carry the responsibility/obligation of providing a safe workplace for their workers, and handing over safe electrical installations to their clients, albeit a licensed and competent electrician is responsible for testing and confirming compliance of the installation.

To help deal with these issues, the Project will aim to:

  • Explore attitudes in the electrical industry, by consulting with industry leaders and stakeholders augmented by occasional surveys.  Industry leaders and stakeholders will include engineers, equipment suppliers, electrical contractors, educators/trainers, associations and unions as well as government regulators/agencies.
  • Develop ‘best practice’ resources, with particular emphasis on producing free publicly available foundational products, to reflect industry standards to assist electrical contractors and electricians meet their safety objectives/obligations and responsibilities.
  • Make safety foundational resources freely available, and specialist training resources at economic prices.

The Project is open to receiving:

  • Industry opinions about what should be done to promote and maintain best safety practices; and
  • Opinions about what constitutes ‘best practice’ in relation to any activities typically undertaken by electricians (including different environmental conditions, equipment/instruments and safety management practices).

We would very much appreciate any contributions to support and/or enhance safety practices in the electrical industry.  Email to tony@uensw.com.au or visit the ESP website for more information: www.esproject.com.au


3. AISC COMMUNIQUE – 12 AUG 2020 MEETING ENDORSES ELECTROTECHNOLOGY TP V2.0 KNOWING IT HAS TECHNICAL DEFECTS

The 33rd meeting of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (the Committee [AISC]) held on 12 August 2020 via Go To, proceeded to undertake a number of activities that included endorsing the hotly contested Electrotechnology Training Package V2.0.  In its Communique it stated, “This Case for Endorsement was considered on 25 February 2020 but not approved. It included: 530 units of competency; 50 skill sets and 79 qualifications.”

It resolved in its decision it stated that it, “Approved the Electrotechnology Training Package Release 2.0 and supported an extended transition timeframe of two years.”  It noted however, that “Victoria raised technical concerns”.

It is most interesting that the ASIC have taken it upon themselves, to endorse a product that does not have the support of Victorians, nor a number of members of the Electrotechnology IRC members and an array of stakeholders, including the NSW UE ITAB.  Moreover, it has allowed a two-year transition period!!!  Why?

The AISC will be in due course be reminded of the decision to endorse a technically flawed national product, when clear evidence was tendered by the Victorian STA of technical concerns with the product augmented by others raising similar concerns.  In time, when learners are exposed to barriers and access to future training and assessment they will be guided to discuss the matter directly with the AISC Members who seem to know better than technical SMEs.  When RTOs encounter a series of defects with meeting the obligations of the Electrotechnology Training Package they too will be directed to raise their concerns and issues directly with the AISC Members.  Issues will arise, there is no doubt about it from anyone with sound knowledge of the Training Package. 

We will wait accordingly, as the roll-out of the Training Package ensues over time and issues arise and RTOs and learners are faced with navigating a flawed product.  And, yet again the Electrotechnology Training Package will need to be amended and modified at a cost in terms of time, money, recognition mechanisms for equivalence, or redevelopment of resources for RTOs, learners and regulators.  It is a very sad state of affairs when an endorsing body seeks to override the will of the stakeholders in order to expedite its own processes.


4. SMART AND SKILLED UPDATE – NO. 109

Please find attached Smart and Skilled Update No. 109, which covers the following:

  1. Financial Cap Review 1 – Delayed activity (2020-21 Activity Period)
    1. Delayed activity due to COVID-19 for continuing students
    2. Transfer between Financial Caps
    3. Reduction in a Financial Cap
  2. How to request a variation in Financial Caps
  3. Up to date Training Activity Data

Appendix 1: Examples for calculating delayed activity

For any technical support in relation to this update, contact Training Market Customer Support at Training.Market@det.nsw.edu.au.

For more information visit the Smart and Skills section of Training Services NSW website: SMART AND SKILLED


5. COURT DECISION COULD MEAN A BETTER DEAL FOR UNI CASUALS

In an interesting article penned by Garry Carnegie and James Guthrie in the Campus Morning Mail, the article reports on a recent Federal Court decision, “that an employee who worked regular and predictable shifts was not a casual.” 

It states, “As academics and tutors are often engaged casually to teach courses, the involvement in teaching courses and marking of examinations and assignments could meet the definition of a fixed or firm advance commitment of regular work and, therefore, could fall under the Rossato ruling.

Should this be the case, those casuals appointed in teaching or research roles in the public university sector with regular ongoing commitments could be entitled to holiday leave or other entitlements relating to the last six years.

Now, this would be a significant financial crunching exercise, especially at this time of income downturn in the sector but it could lead to substantial payments of many hundreds of millions for maybe up to 100,000 casuals who have been employed by public sector universities across the last six years.

The ASIC regulator has advised companies specifically “should provide for additional employee entitlements (including annual leave, personal and carer’s leave, compassionate leave, public holiday pay, and redundancy payments) for past and present ‘casual employees’ who were employed in the circumstances covered by the recent Federal Court decision in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato [2020] FCAFC 84. The decision handed down did not allow for any offset for any casual loading that may have been paid.”

This case, as reported, is very interesting and one wonders if will have any roll-on affect to the VET sector?  It is worthy of review and further investigation.  The article can be accessed from the following link:  FEDERAL COURT DECISION IN WORKPAC V ROSSATO – CASUALS


6. TAFE SYSTEM ‘CRUMBLING FROM NEGLECT AND POLICY VANDALISM’, REPORT WARNS

A Guardian newspaper article on the 13th August 2020, refers to an Australian Institute report, which states, “The Tafe system generates $90bn in economic benefits annually and well-funded Tafe is essential for delivering the workforce needed for post-Covid reconstruction.”

However, it also states that the report views the Tafe system as, “crumbling from neglect and policy vandalism”.  The article goes on to say, “At a time when the Morrison government is vowing to reform the skills and training system, the report by the progressive Australia Institute makes the case for a strong, well-funded Tafe to deliver the workforce the country needs for post-Covid reconstruction.

But the report’s author is alarmed the government did not even mention Tafe when it announced its jobtrainer package last month – and suggests a forthcoming national agreement could entrench “failed” policies and see an increase in funds flowing to private training providers.

The Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work calculates the direct operation of Tafe institutes and related supply chains generate about $6bn in economic activity each year – but that the benefits are far wider than this initial activity.”

“Alison Pennington, a senior economist with the Centre for Future Work and the author of the report, said it was “remarkable” that Australia continue to receive such strong benefits from historic investment in Tafe.

But she likened the Tafe system to a house that needed major repairs after years of funding cuts and policies that favoured market solutions and private providers.

“That house is now crumbling from neglect and from this policy vandalism,” she said during a media briefing.”

To read more of the article visit:  THE GUARDIAN – TAFE SYSTEM

For more information on the Author of the report and its key findings, visit the Centre’s website at: REBUILDING TAFE SYSTEM CRITICAL TO ECONOMIC RECOVERY

A copy of the full report can be accessed at the following URL: AN INVESTMENT IN PRODUCTIVITY AND INCLUSION – THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL BENEFITS OF THE TAFE SYSTEM


7. PUBLIC SAFETY AT RISK DUE TO RAC WORK PERMIT RESTRICTIONS

Sandra Rossi, at Climate Control News (CCN) reports that, “The Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (RAC) trade has been excluded from essential service status under the Victorian Government’s Work Permit Scheme which was introduced yesterday (5 August, 2020) as part of stage four restrictions.”

The article outlines a series of issues that will affect workers and customers given the exclusion.  That is, the report states, “Concerned about the impact this “glaring omission” will have on public safety in Victoria, Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) CEO, Glenn Evans, said lives could be put at risk if RAC equipment is not maintained.

“It is critical for RAC to be listed as an essential business,” he said.

Seeking clarification Evans said ARC immediately contacted the office of the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews.

Discussions are ongoing as there are fears technicians and RAC businesses could be hit with on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 (for individuals) and up to $9,913 (for businesses) if Work Permit Scheme requirements are breached.

This includes employers and employees who do not carry their worker permit when travelling to and from work.

“When you consider surgical operations can’t happen without refrigeration facilities, or that there’d be no transport of meat and other perishables without refrigeration – and the importance of heating for those that are self-isolating at home, as well as essential vehicle repairs – it is vital that refrigeration and air conditioning services can operate,” Evans said.

Given more recent developments in Victoria, it is worth reviewing in more detail the article, in terms of the consequences of some of the newer limitations that have now been imposed in Victoria and whether they may impact in NSW.  For access to the article visit the following URL: CCN – VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT’S WORK PERMIT SCHEME FOR RAC


8. NEW EXEMPTION CLARIFIES USE OF ELECTRICAL CABLES IN UNDERGROUND MINES

The NSW Resources Regulator reports of a new exemption on cables used in underground mines.  It states, “The Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Exemption (Use of Cables in Hazardous Zones) 2020 was published in the NSW Government Gazette on 7 August 2020.

The new Exemption is a class exemption made by the Resources Regulator on its own initiative and applies specifically to the use of cables in a hazardous zone in an underground coal mine.

The new Exemption, which replaces the previous Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Exemption (Use of Cables in Hazardous Zones) 2019, clarifies that the exemption from compliance with clause 80(3)(b) and (c) of the Regulation does not apply to installed cables identified as non-compliant after the engineered system has entered service.

A copy of the Exemption as published in the Government Gazette can be obtained from the following URL: WHS EXEMPTION (USE OF CABLES IN HAZARDOUS ZONES) 2020 NOTICE

The notice states, “This Exemption cancels the Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Exemption (Use of Cables in Hazardous Zones) 2019 published in the NSW Government Gazette on 29 March 2019. That Exemption is cancelled and is replaced by this Exemption which clarifies that the exemption from compliance with clause 80(3)(b) and (c) of the Regulation does not apply where the design of an engineered system specified the use of compliant cables and the installed cables are identified as non-compliant with clause 80(3)(b) or (c) of the Regulation after the engineered system has entered service.”

The ACT: WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY (MINES AND PETROLEUM SITES) REGULATION 2014


9. REVISED MAINTENANCE OF COMPETENCE REQUIREMENTS FOR PRACTISING CERTIFICATES

The NSW Resources Regulator also reports on improvements to the requirements for maintenance of competence that has been gazetted for a range of qualifications and licenses in consultation with the Mining and Petroleum Competence Board.  It states, the improvements include:

  • “eligible learning types are now ‘formal learning’ and ‘informal learning’,
  • the requirement for learning objectives to be obtained from the training provider is no longer mandatory,
  • mining, electrical and mechanical engineering managers/engineers complete the requirements for their statutory function for one class of mine,
  • the recommended logbook has been revised.

Details of the revised requirements have been published in the Government Gazette [Notice pursuant to Practising Certificate 2020] and the Maintenance of competence for practising certificates guide [GUIDE PDF] has been updated to reflect the changes.

A webinar will be held on 15 September 2020 to update stakeholders on the changes and recent developments. Click here for webinar details and registration.”


10. CONSULTATION ON MINIMUM ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS FOR HOUSING CLOSES 31 AUGUST

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has advised that submissions for the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) are invited until 11:59PM AEST Monday 31 August 2020.  The Consultation RIS is, “a proposal to include minimum accessibility standards for housing in the National Construction Code (NCC). It examines regulatory options that are based on the Livable Housing Design Guidelines Silver-level and Gold-level specifications, as well as a ‘Gold-plus’ specification developed through stakeholder consultation.

The views of stakeholders on the Consultation RIS are being sought by the ABCB to ensure the Final RIS is based on the best available information. Questions have been included to guide respondents on specific matters where more information may assist in developing the Final RIS.

As part of consultation, the ABCB is also seeking the personal stories of people whose lives have been impacted by accessible housing (or the lack of accessible housing). Sharing your personal story will help provide important, qualitative information to support the RIS.

The Consultation RIS and its supporting documents can be downloaded from the ABCB Consultation Hub.”

Submission can be provided online or via email as per the following:


11. THE 2020 ISP: A LONELY PLANET GUIDE FOR TRANSMISSION

The Australian Energy Council reports on the recently published Australian Energy Market Operator biennial Integrated System Plan (ISP).  The ISP, “recommends about $10 billion of interconnect projects be developed over the coming 20 years.  There have been many summaries written about its 631 pages and megabytes of supporting spreadsheets, but is there something the press has overlooked?

The 2020 ISP is a monumental work by AEMO, and is important for setting out a likely (but not guaranteed) version of the market and transmission in the future.  It is essential that readers regard the document as a guide, and support the AER in ensuring that the economics of individual projects are assessed rigorously.”

For more information and an overview of the Plan,  visit: THE 2020 ISP: A LONELY PLANET GUIDE FOR TRANSMISSION

For more, contact Duncan MacKinnon, Australian Energy Council.