Politicians are talking about White Card Courses with ASQA at Senate Estimates….

Do you sometimes wonder what politicians do everyday to earn those big dollars and massive pensions?

The day the white card course was brought up with ASQA is not going to cause any callouses to justify the next private jet one of them takes, but at least one politician is having a crack to ensure workers get the right training and work safely in the construction industry.

Doug Cameron is the politicians name; and I went and had a quick look at his work history and it states he is a qualified fitter and machinist and he worked as a maintenance fitter in the steel, ship repair, vehicle and power industries.

I guess that’s why the questions are about induction training rather than work health and safety concerns of lawyer’s offices, where most of the rest of the politicians come from.

His questioning lead to ASQA taking his concerns about white card course being taken on board as an official complaint by ASQA. Limited course duration and passing students with poor language skills are serious concerns that deserve ASQA’s attention.

As this is an ongoing investigation, we’ll just repost the transcript of the hearing with limited no comment and let the investigation take its course, but know we support any attempt by those in power trying to get workers and visitors to worksites home safely.

Have a read and decide for yourself:

Thursday, 25 October 2018 Education and Training – Senate Estimates

Senator CAMERON:  Welcome, Mr Paterson. The national strategic review of registered training organisations offering industry induction training reported in 2013—are you aware of that report? I know you weren’t here at the time, but—

Mr Paterson:  I’m conscious of the review. My recollection of it was that that was not the title of it—but I stand corrected on that.

Senator CAMERON:  That’s what I’ve got here—you know the report I’m talking about?

Mr Paterson:  Vaguely.

Senator CAMERON:  The report made a number of key recommendations in relation to the White Card—you’re aware of that?

Mr Paterson:  Yes, I am.

Senator CAMERON:  The White Card talks about high priority to ongoing regulatory activities to White Card training and assessment—you’re aware of that?

Mr Paterson:  Yes.

Senator CAMERON:  Has that recommendation been adopted?

Mr Paterson:  There have been reviews of the training in relation to the White Card since that time. As I recall, the organisation made some recommendations in relation to specifying some minimum duration in relation to the White Card. That recommendation was not taken up at the time. We have subsequently undertaken a number of strategic reviews, including one that we’ve spoken about previously at estimates in relation to duration where we made some further recommendations which are matters before government.

Senator CAMERON:  I think one of the other recommendations was on the duration. What is the recommended duration?

Mr Paterson:  There isn’t one specified in relation to the White Card as part of the training package.

Senator CAMERON:  So, the report was training for the White Card for Australia’s construction industry.

Mr Paterson:  Yes. It was one of the very early strategic reviews undertaken by ASQA. As you recall, we were created in 2011 and states chose to refer powers to the Commonwealth during 2011-12, and that was one of the early strategic reviews undertaken.

Senator CAMERON:  So, White Card training clearly comes under your purview, your regulatory oversight?

Mr Paterson:  We register registered training organisations, and registered training organisations deliver White Card as one of the offerings in the marketplace—as you know, there are a very large number.

Senator CAMERON:  Are you aware of reports in the press about White Card training at the Royal Hobart Hospital?

Mr Paterson:  No, I’m not.

Senator CAMERON:  There have been reports that, at the Royal Hobart Hospital, Master Builders Australia delivered training on the White Card to workers either on or off the site. I’m advised that the training lasted about half an hour. Does that sound sufficient in the context of your knowledge of how this works?

Mr Paterson:  I’m not aware of the circumstances of the matter that you raise, nor am I aware of any assertions made in relation to the duration of training. Competency based training is designed to ensure that you don’t replicate training already delivered and skills already acquired by individuals. Different cohorts may take shorter or longer periods of time to be able to acquire the skills that are required. We did make some recommendations in terms of minimum duration, which were not taken up. And our minimum duration, I can assure you, was not half an hour.

Senator CAMERON:  That’s right. I’m advised that the half an hour is what has been happening. I might table a copy of a letter I’ve got from the CFMEU, if you don’t mind. Have a look at this.

Mr Paterson:  To the best of my knowledge, it’s not something that they have raised with us.

Senator CAMERON:  No, they raised it with me. While it’s being distributed, I might read the letter. It’s from Dave Noonan, the national secretary, and says:

Dear Senator,

…  …  …

I wish to bring to your attention serious concerns held by the CFMEU in relation to induction training carried out by Master Builders Tasmania at the Royal Hobart Hospital Project site. MBA members, John Holland and Fairbrother are the principal contractors at this project.

The union has received credible reports that induction training for 1,150 workers on the project was carried out by Master Builders Tasmania and that the organisation charged $99 per worker for the said inductions receiving in excess of $113,000.

It goes on to say:

We are not aware as to whether Master Builders Tasmania or any associated entity is a Registered Training Organisation as per relevant legislation. It has come to our attention in relation to employers of Accuracy Interiors (in receivership) that a significant number of employees of Accuracy Interiors possessed little or no knowledge of the English language and that MBA Tasmania failed to provide any translation or interpreting to enable those workers to understand the training provided.

It goes on to say:

This raises serious safety concerns as the induction training is necessary for workers to understand safety requirements on the site. It is beyond comprehension that any responsible organisation would treat the safety of workers in such a cavalier fashion. We bring this matter to your attention and request an urgent investigation by the relevant regulators into the circumstance of this serious matter.

I accept that you have just heard about this when I raised it. It was reported in The Australian this morning. Would you see this as an appropriate issue to investigate?

Mr Paterson:  I’m happy to examine the matters that are raised in this. I can’t pass a judgement whether it’s appropriate to examine or not on the basis of the information that’s before me, but I’m happy to have a look at the material that’s raised. As I said, it’s not been raised, to the best of my knowledge, with us, by the CFMEU or by any other party. I’m not aware of the status of the training provider that may or may not have delivered the training in the way that’s outlined. I’m happy to look at the circumstances and I’m happy to—if examining it means that we can respond within the time frame on notice, I’m happy to endeavour to respond on notice. Otherwise, we’ll further examine the issue and come back at a later time.

Senator CAMERON:  I appreciate that. Given you’re an expert in this area, and you regulate this area, have you ever been advised previously about any companies providing training in English to non-English speaking workers?

Mr Paterson:  I think there have been examples where questions have been raised about the competence of the individuals to undertake the training. You may recall that we spoke of a training provider that we cancelled, and then ended up cancelling a large number of qualifications in the security industry 12 or 18 months ago. There was certainly evidence that was available to us at the time that many of the people would not have been qualified to gain a security licence because of their lack of capacity in relation to the English language, and certainly there were shortcomings in the training that was provided to those individuals. So it’s not an isolated situation. It’s not a common situation. But you can’t undertake competency based training and assess the competence of individuals if they don’t understand nor are able to communicate in the language in which the assessment and the training is being undertaken. So, in a competency based environment, you would not be able to genuinely assess the competence of the individuals if you were speaking to them in a language they didn’t understand and they were responding in a language that was not understood by the assessors. So it is something that would be concerning. But, as I said, I know nothing of the detail of this particular case. I’m happy to look at this particular case.

Senator CAMERON:  You said you would take it on notice; that’s fine. Could you also take this as a formal complaint from me in relation to this issue?

Mr Paterson:  I’d have to assess whether we’ve actually got a registered training organisation that’s within our confidence. There is an assertion or an indication in the text from the CFMEU that they don’t know who the registered training organisation is. It’s possible that it’s delivered by an entity that is not ours. So we may not be able to deal with it in a formal complaint environment. But I’m happy, as I said, to examine the issue behind the matter that’s raised here. If we’re able to do that within the time frame that’s specified by the Senate, we’ll respond on notice; otherwise I will respond at a later time.

Senator CAMERON:  If they are a registered training organisation, can you take this as a formal complaint?

Mr Paterson:  I’m happy to deal with it as a complaint. We have a procedure which we identify that complaints need to be lodged on the website et cetera, but I’m happy to deal with it as if we have a complaint raised by you in relation to this matter.

Senator CAMERON:  I’m happy for you to undertake whatever needs to be done formally. I’m not asking for any special—

Mr Paterson:  No, no. I’m happy to take it on. We will deal with the matter appropriately.

Senator CAMERON:  The other issue for me is that you have raised this proposition. If someone delivers the training and they’re not an RTO, what sanctions are available?

Mr Paterson:  There are civil penalties in the legislation. My re-election is that the offence is section 116 of our act and the civil penalty is 117, I think, off the top of my head, where a national VET qualification is offered in whole or in part by a non-registered organisation. So there are penalty provisions within our legislation, and we are more likely to pursue those sorts of penalties where it’s a non-RTO, because we can’t sanction them by doing something in relation to their registration if it’s a non-RTO. So there are civil penalties, and we have pursued—in fact, there’s been some recent reporting of actions that we took against individuals and entities that were holding themselves out as registered training organisations and purporting to offer nationally recognised VET qualifications when they weren’t entitled to them. We were successful in those prosecutions.

Transcript sourced from – https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_Estimates/ee

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