NECA News December 2020

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December 2020


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IN THIS ISSUE December 2020 09 And That’s a Wrap! 10 News in Brief 12 NECA Industry Survey Reveals Need For Regulatory Reform Alongside Stimulus 13 NECA’s Response to the COAG Energy Council Post-2025 Market Design Consultation Paper 13 NECA Welcomes Federal Government Budget 2020-21 APPRENTICES ARE OUR FUTURE 14 Apprentices are Our Future 14 A Boost to Electrical Apprentice Numbers 16 NECA Responds to Apprentice Training Needs 17 Pre-Apprenticeships – Industry’s Preferred Pathway Into the Trade 18 Electrical Apprenticeships – More Than Just a Training Pathway 20 NECA 2020 Apprentice Award Winners NSW/ACT BRANCH 24 Branch Update 24 Digitising Trade Licensing 25 NECA Partners With NSW Government On Push to Improve Electrical Safety in Homes 26 Finally There is a Better Option for Training Electrical Apprentices in NSW and ACT 28 Safework NSW Inspectors are Targeting Electrical Safety in Construction and Solar Installation 30 Continuing a Family Legacy – 75 Years On, Three Generations of Electricians QLD BRANCH


32 Branch Update 32 Ammendments to the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) ACT 2017 (QLD) 33 Wage Theft is Now a Crime in QLD 34 Women in Construction – Leading Industry Change

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72 SA/NT BRANCH 36 Branch Update 38 Introducing the New Dual Trade Apprenticeship 39 Looking Out for Your Workers in Stressful Times 40 Regulatory Changes for Smarter Homes – New Requirements for Installers

TAS BRANCH 42 Branch Update 43 CBOS Clarification of Metering Requirements 43 “State of States”: Tasmania Leads Australia... Again 43 Tasmania Announces Vision for Vocational Learning and VET to 2030

VIC BRANCH 44 Branch Update 45 Energy Safe Victoria Update 46 Top 5 Workplace Relations Updates in 2020 48 Integrity, Standards and Flexibility – How a Boy from Geelong Built a Major Business

WA BRANCH 50 Branch Update 52 2020 WA Events Wrap-Up 53 10th Anniversary of NECA Legal WA 54 Geographe Electrical and Communications – Contributing to the Local Community



63 Warning: Collision Ahead – How the Electrical Vehicle Will Impact Future Electricians

76 Business in Brief

65 What You Need to Know About the Clean Energy Regulator’s New Inverter Settings Inspections 66 Arc Faults and Detection Devices

56 Western Power Update

68 Safe Practices and Complicance on Construction and Demolition Sites

57 Working On or Near Energised Electrical Installations

70 RCD Protection

58 Notification Requirements for Transportable Structures

60 Cabling Can Send All the Right Signals 62 Updated Standards for Customer Cabling



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79 Business Insurance Tips

TOOLS OF THE TRADE 80 Tools of the Trade

HEALTH AND WELLBEING 82 It’s Getting Hot Out Here

LEGAL 72 Debt Recovery for Electrical Contracting Businesses


78 Social Media: 101 – Getting Your Business Online

82 Coping With Christmas

74 How to Calculate Personal/Carer’s Leave 75 End of Year Work Functions and Employer Responsibilities


NECA News is published four times per year for NECA members, industry providers, wholesalers and manufacturers. Your input is important. To contribute article suggestions or to advertise, contact

DISCLAIMER Opinions expressed by contributors in articles, in reproduced articles and advertisements are the individual opinions of such contributors or the authors of such reproduced articles or advertisements and not necessarily those of NECA, which does not hold itself responsible for correctness of any statement contained herein.

Contact your local NECA Branch or visit for more details

AND THAT’S A WRAP! I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT BACK IN 2015, NOT ONE OF US GOT THE ANSWER CORRECT TO THE QUESTION: ‘WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF 5 YEARS FROM NOW?’ Regardless of where we had hoped to be, we are on the cusp of a new year and we’re sensing a cautious optimism among our members and industry partners. As an industry, we are no strangers to change and tend to forget how well we adapt to meet challenges head on; embracing new technologies, new solutions and new work practices every day. This year has been no exception. As we consider the future of our industry, in this issue of NECA News we focus on the next generation, our apprentices. We take a look at how

government is supporting electrical contracting businesses to take on new apprentices and the role NECA has played in making this happen. As we close out 2020 we also take this opportunity to congratulate our inspiring 2020 Apprentice Award winners and thank the businesses, many of them NECA members, that have been instrumental in their journey. We are looking forward to celebrating our apprentices, and the achievements of our industry through the NECA Excellence Awards together again next year. Key dates for the 2020/21 industry

awards double header are included on page 10. Contact your local NECA branch for award entry details. Thank you again to everyone who has provided feedback on the launch issue of NECA News. If you have something to share about what’s happening in your corner of the country, let us know. We’d love to hear from you. We wish you and yours a safe and restful festive season.

Take care and enjoy! The NECA News team

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EXCELLENCE AWARDS DOUBLE-HEADER IN 2021 We are excited to see our NECA Excellence Awards program back on track for 2021. NECA’s National Excellence Awards, which recognise outstanding professionalism, commitment and innovation within the electrical and communications industry, will combine project submissions from 2020 and 2021, and culminate in a combined 2020/21 National Awards event. Nominations open December 2020. Reach out to your local NECA Branch for more details. KEY DATES Western Australia – Dinner  Friday, 25 June 2021

Australian Capital Territory – Dinner  Friday, 6 August 2021

Tasmania – Dinner  Saturday, 14 August 2021

Queensland – Lunch  Friday, 20 August 2021

Victoria – Dinner  Friday, 27 August 2021

New South Wales – Lunch  Friday, 10 September 2021

South Australia/Northern Territory – Dinner  Friday, 10 September 2021

National – Dinner  Thursday, 18 November 2021  Hyatt, Canberra



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NECA is proud to be a leading electrical and communications industry advocate for gender equity and diversity. We actively support breaking down divisions, broadening economic opportunities and a diverse workforce that achieves a greater participation and employment of women in trades. In the largest single trade occupation in Australia – that of the electrician – women make up just 1.3 percent of the total. In September 2020, NECA formed the Women in Electrical and Communications Industry Advisory Group (WECAG) to address the challenges of successfully attracting, recruiting and retaining women into electrical careers. If you are interested in participating with WECAG, please contact your local NECA Branch for more details.

BE AWARE: ASBESTOS LURKS IN MORE PLACES THAN YOU’D THINK November is Asbestos Awareness Month. Asbestos-related diseases cause approximately 4,000 deaths a year. That’s three times the annual road toll. Asbestos is still present in millions of Australian homes and can be easily disturbed when undertaking electrical work. If a home was built or renovated prior to 1990, there is a good chance it has some asbestos. Asbestos materials are still commonly found in bathrooms, laundries, and kitchens as well as behind tiles and under flooring – especially lino. It is not dangerous if in good condition and undisturbed, but it can be easily disturbed during a renovation or general maintenance work. Inhaling asbestos fibres can cause a number of life-threatening diseases including pleural disease, asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. This year electricians are being asked to be aware of the potential asbestos risks before starting any work - Asbestos lurks in more places than you’d think. And just like electrical work, asbestos removal is a job best left to the experts! To find out more visit

December 2020


PROGRESS ON UNFAIR CONTRACT LEGISLATION AN IMPORTANT STEP FORWARD NECA praised state and federal governments for agreeing to strengthen protections for small businesses from unfair contract terms. This will be done by amending Australian Consumer Law, by: 

making unfair terms unlawful and giving courts the power to impose a civil penalty; expanding the definition of small business and removing the requirement for a contract to be below a certain threshold; and improving clarity on when the protections apply, including on what is a ‘standard form contract’.

NECA has long advocated for stronger unfair contract legislation, which ensures smaller businesses are able to compete on a level playing field. NECA outlined its position to Treasury in a letter earlier this year and it is positive to see government responding to concerns of NECA members. Speaking on the issue, Oliver Judd, NECA Executive DIrector, said: “Unscrupulous principal contractors are known to use their power and size to enforce detrimental and unfair contracts on smaller parties on a ‘take-it or leave-it’ basis. Subcontractors,

This decision at the Consumer Affairs Forum is a step in the right direction, which will help electrical contracting firms. The expansion of the definition of small business is a key move that NECA has called for in its submissions as even larger electrical contracting businesses can suffer at the hands of principal contractors.



The Electrotechnology Training Package –which covers some 87 qualifications, 75 skill sets and 614 units of competence – has finally been endorsed by the Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC) and signed off by state and territory Skills Ministers across the country.

Earlier this year state and federal treasurers agreed to harmonise their laws so that occupational licenses, including electrician licences, would automatically be recognised nationwide.

This training package covers the qualifications for the electrical, electronics, hazardous areas, instrumentation, rail signalling, refrigeration and air conditioning, renewable and sustainable energy sectors. The AISC has also recommended a 2-year train-out of the existing UEE11 training package, in recognition of the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. NECA representatives have been instrumental in the development of the training package, and would like to acknowledge Larry Moore (Chairman – Electrotechnology IRC), Carl Copeland and Peter Beveridge for their hard work and dedication to this process.

Interested in keeping in touch with what’s happening in the electrical and communications industry?


who tend to be smaller businesses, often do not have the capacity to fairly and equitably negotiate contracts”.

Now a step closer, the National Cabinet at a meeting in November agreed in principle to develop an Intergovernmental Agreement on Automatic Mutual Recognition of Occupational Licences, with the intention for mutual recognition of licensing to commence 1 July 2021. NECA has long called for harmonisation of licensing to support labour mobility - a single national occupational licensing scheme for electrical and communications workers will remove significant red tape and enable licence holders to work freely across Australia.

 /National Electrical and Communications Association  /NationalElectricalCommunicationsAssociation  @neca_au

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NECA surveyed 377 representatives from across the industry during September 2020 on their experiences. The survey was open to NECA members and non-members. Businesses responding to the survey represent nearly 12,000 employees across all states and territories, and across remote, regional and metropolitan Australia. The majority of respondents operate out of New South Wales (31%) and Victoria (39%) and within metropolitan areas (64%). The response to the survey was markedly higher in Victoria in September 2020 compared to May 2020, and responses reflect the greater impact of COVID-19 on this state compared with other parts of the country. The largest group of respondents to the survey were small and medium businesses (84%). The results from the September 2020 survey are not dissimilar to those in May. COVID-19 continues to have a clear adverse impact on the electrical and communications contracting industry. These effects include the loss of jobs, supply chain shortages, increased contractual, legal and industrial risks, reduced productivity due to physical distancing requirements, and heightened levels of uncertainty and reluctance amongst consumers to engage electrical work/projects.



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While the industry remains confident it will eventually recover from the pandemic, the research continues to paint a sobering picture that validates the concerns identified by NECA in its earlier May 2020 survey. Consequently, the industry looks toward government for leadership and will continue to actively advocate for a number of funding initiatives, regulatory and policy reforms that stimulate the economy and support business to get back on its feet. Oliver Judd, NECA Executive Director said: “Our survey is further indication that we are not yet out the woods and businesses face a long road to recovery. The Federal

Budget provided extensive stimulus that should reach the electrical contracting industry and the JobKeeper scheme is doing exactly what it was intended to do; helping businesses make it through the tough times and protecting jobs. “What our members also want to see is regulatory reform as there is growing uncertainty that they will get paid for work underway or already completed. This means adoption of a uniformed approach to Security of Payment laws and introduction of Unfair Contracts legislation.”



93% of businesses in September 2020 said COVID-19 had an impact on their business with most experiencing a significant or moderate impact. This is consistent with the results from May 2020 (94%).


Over 50% of businesses in September 2020 have reduced employee hours to buffer the impact of COVID-19, this is slightly higher than the May 2020 findings of just below 50%. This indicates the market conditions are relatively the same.

of all businesses surveyed in September 2020 have seen a negative 80% 80% financial impact as a result of COVID-19 with almost one in five experiencing a reduction in revenue of more than 50%. This is unchanged from the May 2020 research findings.


Businesses are concerned about the future pipeline of work, with more than 50% of new projects and installations impacted and at least 66% of work underway due to come to an end within six months.


As of September 2020, 75% of businesses have applied for government assistance, with a further 3% intending to apply. Of those receiving government support, the majority of businesses responding to the survey are receiving JobKeeper payments (74%), apprentice wage subsidies (28%) and accessing the instant asset write-off provisions (23%).


38% of respondents in September 2020 employ mature age apprentices in their businesses, with one third (32%) of all respondents indicating provision of an adult apprentice wage subsidy would support an increase of this cohort.


Regulatory reform is key to moving forward with 30% in September 2020 (29% in May 2020) of respondents seeking adoption of a uniformed approach to Security of Payment laws. This reflects growing uncertainty about whether businesses in the electrical industry will be paid for work already completed.

December 2020



THE COAG ENERGY COUNCIL’S POST-2025 MARKET DESIGN CONSULTATION PAPER EXAMINES TECHNOLOGIES CURRENTLY FEATURING, OR INTENDED TO FEATURE, IN AUSTRALIA’S ENERGY GENERATION MIX IN THE YEARS AHEAD - ONE OF OUR GREATEST CHALLENGES IS AROUND ENERGY SECURITY. The Government is looking at a comprehensive redesign of Australia’s energy market, looking at ways our regulatory frameworks can better integrate large and small-scale renewables to unlock the full value of the renewable revolution. NECA has made a submission to COAG that urges all levels of government to immediately commence the strategic

planning of these technologies and associated infrastructure, as well as introduce measures that effectively respond to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and our nation’s economic recovery. NECA emphasises the need to ensure reliability, sovereignty and security across a diverse range of energy sources, initiatives and technologies. NECA is of the view that this work opens opportunities

for nation building, which in turn may filter through to increased job opportunities, reinvigorated communities and potential gross domestic product growth if harnessed effectively in partnership with the private sector, including electrical and communications contractors. For full details on the submission visit


new and extended wage subsidies now available to all businesses to support apprentices ($1.2bn new apprentices, $2.8bn protect existing apprentices); extending the temporary relief to trading insolvency provisions; a suite of infrastructure projects (approximately $14bn over 10 years


including water, recycling infrastructure, bridges and street lighting); 

tax reforms including personal income tax and some changes to fringe benefit tax; and a new modern manufacturing plan, targeting a range of industries including clean energy.

NECA released a Member Alert concerning the Federal Budget 2020-21 that outlines the new budget initiatives

relevant and available to be taken up by eligible contractors. We look forward to working with members and across the industry to monitor the effectiveness of the budget measures, and to continue to advocate to government on new initiatives which will be sought under the next Federal Budget. NECA’s submission to the Federal Government’s Budget 2020-21 is available at

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APPRENTICES ARE OUR FUTURE Throughout history, apprenticeships have played an important role in helping young people gain employment and learn technical, safety and life skills that set them up for their career. In the current times, electrical apprenticeships are more important than ever. The electrical and communications industry is operating in an environment of continual change. Uncertainty, shifts in government policies and programs, as well as fluctuations in the state, national and global economies have made it a challenging time to be in business. Despite all this, our industry continues to adapt and play a key role in Australia’s economic and social development. It is important that

we continue to look forward, and position ourselves to make the most of opportunities as they arise. It is critical to build a strong workforce that meets current and future demands, and apprenticeships will play a vital role in achieving this. NECA is well placed to help you review a range of apprenticeship options for your business. No matter what size or type of business you’re in, there are employment options to suit everyone. We encourage all industry employers to consider how you can support the apprenticeship system, continue to work towards a strong industry and help shape Australia’s future.


IF YOU’RE CONSIDERING TAKING ON AN APPRENTICE, HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BOOSTING APPRENTICESHIP COMMENCEMENTS WAGE SUBSIDY AND HOW TO ACCESS ONE OF THE 100,000 PLACES. Is my business eligible? The Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy supports businesses to take on new apprentices and trainees. It is available to employers of any size, industry or location. Your business may be eligible if:  you engage an Australian apprentice or trainee between 5 October 2020 and 30 September 2021; and  your Australian apprentice or trainee is undertaking a Certificate II or higher qualification and has a training contract that is formally approved by the relevant state training authority. Note, the subsidy is not available for apprentices receiving other forms of



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Australian Government wage subsidy e.g. Supporting Apprentices and Trainees, JobKeeper or the JobMaker Hiring Credit.

How much is the subsidy? Eligible employers will receive a wage subsidy of up to 50% of the Australian apprentice’s or trainee’s gross wage paid.  The wage subsidy is available for a maximum of $7,000 per quarter per eligible Australian apprentice or trainee.  The subsidy is available for wages paid from 5 October 2020 to 30 September 2021. Payments will be made quarterly in arrears, with first claims for the subsidy available from 1 January 2021.  The final claims for payment must be lodged by 31 December 2021. 

How can I apply or find out more? For further information on how to apply for the subsidy, including information on eligibility, contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider. Visit

Changes introduced to support the subsidy’s integrity NECA has been engaging with members on concerns that the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements scheme is at risk of being rorted by some employers and training organisations that use traineeships to subsidise existing employees.

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After speaking with the Office of Federal Minister for Employment and Skills Michaelia Cash, NECA understands ongoing compliance activity will work to ensure the funding is going to genuinely new apprentices. NECA is actively working to avoid a repeat of the VET FEE-HELP scenario, where unscrupulous businesses and training organisations cost the government billions of dollars, with limited upside in terms of new electrical apprentice numbers. To support the integrity of the scheme, the government has recently introduced changes to the eligibility of existing workers including a cap on the number of existing workers who commence a nontrade Australian Apprenticeship on or after 28 October 2020. No limit will apply where an existing worker commences a trades-based Australian Apprenticeship. Got a story to tell? The Federal Government is looking for electrical apprentice case studies. If you’ve taken advantage of the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements scheme and are interested in sharing your story, get in touch by emailing


INCREASED INNOVATION Apprentices come from a variety of backgrounds bringing fresh perspectives, up-to-date skills and innovative ideas into your business.












Existing team members can validate their technical skills and gain valuable mentoring, supervision and management experience.

You have the opportunity to teach apprentices how you like things to be done and pass on valuable ‘tricks of the trade’.

Employing an apprentice or trainee is an effective way to meet future business growth. Many apprentices stay with their employer after completing their apprenticeship, making apprenticeships a good investment.

Apprenticeships are a cost-effective way of attracting the best new talent, increasing business capacity and expanding your workforce.

Apprentices gain a deep understanding of specialised skill sets, preparing them for work as a tradesperson with your company.

ENSURE THE ELECTRICAL INDUSTRY’S FUTURE Hiring apprentices provides employment opportunities and builds the electrical industry’s overall capacity and future workforce.

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CONTACT YOUR LOCAL NECA GROUP TRAINING ORGANISATION Australian Capital Territory NECA Training and Apprenticeships   (02) 6280 5580 New South Wales NECA Training and Apprenticeships   (02) 9744 2754 Queensland NECA Training and Apprenticeships   (07) 3276 7950 South Australia NECA Careers and Apprenticeships   (08) 8272 0799 Tasmania NECA Education & Careers   (03) 6424 5626 NORTH (03) 6245 0770 SOUTH

The way Australia ‘recovers’ from the pandemic has the potential to affect current apprenticeships and future career opportunities for those wanting to move into the electrical and communications industry. NECA’s Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and Group Training Organisations (GTOs) across the country are acutely aware of this issue. They are focused on ensuring the great work done over recent years, to increase the number of apprentices entering the trade, is not eroded. While many training providers closed their doors due to COVID-19, leaving apprentices and their employers in limbo, NECA RTOs have been praised for quickly modifying schedules so that learning could continue. This included moving theory lessons online and reducing the number of apprentices attending practical lessons to adhere to social distancing requirements. The approach taken by NECA RTOs has meant minimal disruption to apprentice learning. It has also kept NECA member and GTO apprentices on track to complete their training on schedule.



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Many electrical contracting businesses are familiar with the benefits of partnering with a GTO including employment flexibility and reduced administrative burdens. During difficult times, these training models can also be of great value to both the hosts and apprentices, by providing a safety net for ongoing sustainable apprentice employment. As current workflows can have many peaks and troughs, NECA’s GTO facilities assist by keeping apprentices employed and rotating them through their many valued host partners. This is the safety net that can help host businesses maintain work flexibility and that all-important labour mix. It allows hosts to better coordinate daily work activities between busy and quiet periods, taking out some of the stress while meeting business needs. At the same time apprentices can continue to work, ensuring they are actively engaged and gaining the broad range of skills required for their apprenticeship. NECA would like to take this opportunity to thank the many contractors who support its GTOs and the employment of

Victoria NECA Education & Careers   (03) 9381 1922 Western Australia Electrical Group Training   (08) 6241 6100 College of Electrical Training   (08) 9233 5000 JOONDALUP (08) 6595 6600 JANDAKOT

apprentices. It is extremely important to continue keeping all apprentices in the training system so we do not lose future tradespeople. It will also avoid future skills shortages that could occur through a lack of tradespeople available to provide training. We’d encourage any employer having difficulty in managing workflows and staff numbers to consider the options that GTOs provide. This is of benefit, not only for individual contracting businesses and apprentices, but the industry as a whole.

December 2020



What to look for in a pre-apprenticeship program

computer software applications, applied electricity and workplace safety.

No two pre-apprenticeship programs are the same. When considering a pre-apprenticeship program through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), look for a program that meets the following criteria:

What to look for in an Apprentice

underpinned by genuine work-based learning opportunities;

The first thing to look for is the capacity to undertake the training. This means having a solid grasp on the types of language used on the job and the mathematical skills needed to perform practical calculations.

 

driven by high quality training, which makes graduates work and apprenticeship ready; developed and delivered through direct engagement with employers and industry;

An electrical apprenticeship isn’t for everyone, and it’s better for a potential apprentice to know that sooner rather than later.

Equally important is the motivation to pursue a career in the electrical trade.

This is not just saying that they want to be an electrician, but understanding what the job is really about. Are they willing to learn? Are they open to feedback? Are they willing to put in the early mornings and weekend work required?

Why it’s important to get it right The people that work with you have the potential to make or break your business. An apprentice is no different. In fact, as one of the younger members of your team, they will be the face of your business on site. Getting the right apprentices, and having the opportunity to try them out through a pre-apprenticeship, is good recruitment practice.

responsive to local skill demands; linked to job opportunities and employment outcomes; and adequately funded, with relevant length and sequencing whether part or full time.

Getting a head start An electrical pre-apprenticeship gives potential apprentices a head-start on the pathway to an apprenticeship. Generally based on the national qualification - UEE22011 Certificate II in Electrotechnology, these qualifications enable participants to develop broadbased competencies in a range of electrotechnology fields, such as lighting, general power, fire protection and security, robotics, instrumentation, optical data and voice systems, electrical motors and control systems. There is also a focus on workshop practices and hand skills, electrical wiring and equipment, electrical drawing, electrical regulations, test instruments, communications skills,


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A former Electrical Group Training apprentice, Emma McDonald is now a qualified electrician and proactive industry ambassador. We had the opportunity to talk to Emma about her journey to become an electrician and where it’s taken her.

How did you get into your electrical apprenticeship? Getting an apprenticeship took a long time. My dad worked for Telecom during the 1980s when everything was hardwired through copper networks. When I was growing up, he would sometimes take us into the telephone exchange and we watched him work. I was fascinated by it all and knew then that I’d work in some kind of trade. When I left high school, I applied for every apprenticeship I could and was turned down for all of them. So, I applied for a job at my local supermarket. While working with them, I was transferred to Perth and had a second try at getting an apprenticeship. Again, I applied for everything I could and got turned down. I spent fifteen years working with the supermarket chain and during that time

the industry changed a lot. Stereotypes were dissolving and ideals were changing, so I quit my job and applied for a pre-apprenticeship. I then went on to do my electrical apprenticeship and haven’t looked back since then.

confident, resilient and independent than I was before. I’m a better communicator and have more knowledge about the world. Those skills transfer across to everything I do, regardless of whether it’s work or my personal life.

What work are you doing now?

You were a multi-award winning apprentice. What are the benefits of being part of industry awards?

I’m a Leading Hand working in the construction industry and I love it. I like the camaraderie that comes with being on a construction site. I get to meet all sorts of different people and we’re all part of a team, working towards a single goal. I also enjoy the challenge. The work is never straightforward and we’re problem-solving and overcoming issues every day. How did your training prepare you for your current role? My apprenticeship gave me solid technical electrical skills, but it also improved many of my life skills. I’m more


| neca

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In 2015 I won the WA GTA Apprentice of the Year Award and following that I became involved in the Today’s Skills Tomorrow’s Leaders Program (TSTL). I met apprentices and trainees from around Australia, who were all from different trades and backgrounds. Following my involvement with TSTL, I was invited to be an apprenticeship ambassador for the Australian government. Through that I’ve worked to raise the status of apprenticeships by delivering presentations for schools and colleges.

December 2020

but if they’re enthusiastic and show an interest, it opens the door for us as tradespeople to share our knowledge. What are your plans for the future? I dream of having my own business one day. But, until then, I’m going to keep learning and upskilling as much as I can. When the time is right, I’ll take that leap and start out on my own. In 2016 I was fortunate to win the NECA WA 4th Year Apprentice of the Year Award and from there I went into the National NECA Awards where I came second. For me, each award program opened doors for other opportunities to learn, meet new people and get more involved in industry.

What advice would you give apprentices and potential apprentices?

Do you have any final thoughts to share?

Whether someone is thinking about an apprenticeship or they’re already in one, I think the advice is the same. Apprentices need a good attitude and a willingness to work hard and learn. We don’t expect them to know everything,

I think it doesn’t matter what your background is or what your circumstances are. If you want something and you’re willing to work toward it, you can achieve it. I love my work and it has been well worth the effort it took to get here.

You’re also an active mentor. Can you tell us about that? After being invited to attend the 2017 National VET Alumni Workshop in Canberra, I met Fi Shewring. She started up Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen (SALT) Australia and through them I mentor apprentices working across a number of trades. I enjoy being a mentor. If I can make it easier for others to get into or stay in their apprenticeship then I’m willing to help. It doesn’t matter whether it’s being a sounding board or providing support and advice. It’s time well spent.

AUSTRALIA’S FRONT DOOR TO CAREERS INFORMATION AND SUPPORT In 2019, NECA contributed to discussions on the federal government’s skills reform package ‘Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow’, which included establishment of the National Careers Institute (NCI). A year on, the NCI is working to ensure all people of all ages and stages of their career have better access to information about their education, training and employment options. Three of the NCI’s key initiatives to support people as they start, manage or transition in their careers are the Your Career website and the School Leavers Initiative which includes the School Leavers Information Kit and the School Leavers Information Service.

WWW.NECA.ASN.AU helps people plan, navigate and manage their career. Powered by labour market and skills data from the National Skills Commission, Your Career can help people find education, training and work options suited to them, as well as targeted information about different career pathways, such as Australian Apprenticeships. Your Career lists a variety of occupations, such as electrical and communications careers, including information about the day-to-day work, considerations, expected pay, future demand and links to the qualifications needed to start in that career. For more information about the NCI visit

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and Industrial. Many past winners have gone on to have successful careers in the industry, as leaders, technical specialists and business owners.

The awards present a valuable opportunity for apprentices to stand out from the crowd, and be acknowledged for their capabilities and hard work across three award categories: Commercial/ Domestic, Communications

With much of an apprentice’s learning taking place on the job, the awards also recognise employers and supervisors. The time, effort and resources they dedicate to providing a safe and positive work environment has a significant impact and is greatly valued.

Our congratulations to all apprentices who nominated for the NECA awards in each state. The following state award winners have gone on to become finalists for the National Apprentice of the Year Awards. Anyone who has worked with these apprentices will know that the future of our industry is in good hands.


NECA Electrical Apprenticeships hosted by Canberra Connections “I’ve had the chance to work on different aspects of the trade in both the domestic and commercial areas. I’ve taken on more responsibility, including helping with apprentice development, both as a senior apprentice and now as a tradesman. The electrical and communications industry is fast moving and changing. I look forward to taking it on in the future and continuing my development.”


NECA Training and Apprenticeships hosted by Fredon Electrical “Watching my father and grandfather running their electrical businesses ‘sparked’ my passion for all things electrical. I’ve been committed to my apprenticeship and have had a number of highlights and opportunities to work on interesting projects. I’m excited by what the future holds and am set to pursue my career in the industry.”


“I love the hands-on nature of my work. I also love meeting with clients and educating them about our industry and what we are doing to help them. For people thinking about doing an apprenticeship I would tell them to go for it; to make sure they stick it out and complete their apprenticeship and not give up.”


Electrical Group Training hosted by CPR Electrical Services “I am appreciative of EGT and my host employer for giving me the opportunity to do what I do. For people thinking about an electrical apprenticeship, the best advice I can offer is to listen and ask questions. That is the best way to learn.”



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NECA Electrical Apprenticeships hosted by JCL Electrics Pty Limited “I wasn’t expecting to win this award, but have appreciated being recognised for my diligence and hard work. My apprenticeship has given me many opportunities and exposed me to a broad range of electrical skills. I enjoy working in a positive environment, where I can look forward to coming to work, and take pride in being part of a project from beginning to the end.”


NECA Training and Apprenticeships hosted by PM Electric “I started my apprenticeship when I was 21, making the move while I was halfway through a university degree. As an apprentice, I worked on a wide variety of projects and gained extensive experience in planning, installing and testing electrical installations up to high standards. Now I’m looking forward to becoming a qualified electrician and working as part of the team at PM Electric.”


NECA Training and Apprenticeships hosted by Green Switch Electrical “My willingness to learn has seen me doing all sorts of work from being the nominated roof-crawler right through to fitting-out milliondollar properties. Now I’ve finished my apprenticeship, I’m very proud to have been given a permanent position. My long-term plan is to keep building my skills and hopefully have the opportunity to do more work in the industrial sector.”


“The best part about my job is looking back on the work I’ve achieved. I love to problem solve and as an electrician I get to do this every day. I have completed my apprenticeship and am working full time with AHT Group which I love. I believe if you have a good attitude and you’re willing to listen and learn throughout your apprenticeship and beyond, you will go far.”


NECA Education & Careers hosted by Stowe Australia (Hobart) “Doing an apprenticeship has helped me develop confidence in my abilities. It’s also led me to display a high level of initiative in my work. The electrical sector has been a life changer for me and I recommend that any person considering an electrical apprenticeship do so through a NECA training organisation. I’m excited by what the future holds and am set to follow a career in either Project Management or running my own electrical business.”


NECA Education & Careers hosted by Stowe Australia “I was lucky to work with a number of strong mentors throughout my entire apprenticeship. Four years may seem like a long time, but it flies by. I encourage apprentices to take all the opportunities they’re given and try and learn as much as they can. Now I’ve finished my time and I’m working as a Junior Project Manager. There are new challenges to enjoy every day.”


“Doing a pre-apprenticeship is a good starting point for an electrical career. It provides good work experience so you can find out whether you like it or not. The things I like most, are the challenges we face every day and the personal reward that comes from doing a good job for a client and getting good feedback.”


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Delta Building Automation “One of the highlights of my apprenticeship, was winning the Electrical Control Field Bronze Medal in the 2019 Worldskills Australia Competition. It was testament to all the hard work I’ve put into my apprenticeship. The electrical industry provides a fascinating and stimulating career, with lots of challenges and development opportunities. To current and future apprentices I say, put the work in and you will be rewarded! Hard work pays off!”

JEREMY SALIBA NSW Spectrum Automation

“I’ve always had a passion for working with tools and having a ‘hands-on’ approach, so doing an electrical apprenticeship was always a leading option for me. I’ve really appreciated my supervisors for the valuable skills they taught me, and I plan to use these skills and continue to expand my knowledge within the automation sector.”


“I enjoy fixing problems and love the challenges that electrical work presents. The variety of the job is amazing and I never get bored. Looking forward, I want to keep learning as much as I can from my peers. Eventually I want to become a manager and help guide people through their career journey.”



NECA Education & Careers hosted by Frontline (Mornington) “I initially set my sights on becoming an engineer, but after two weeks of work experience, I loved the intricacies of the electrical industry and chose to do an apprenticeship instead. I appreciated all the opportunities I got through my apprenticeship, which included working on wind farms, water treatment plants and the Cadbury factory. My apprenticeship and the experience I gained will assist me with my future projects.”


Electrical Group Training hosted by MAK Industrial Water Solutions “To be a good apprentice I think you need be prepared for hard work, stick at it and try hard. Now as a fourth-year apprentice, I enjoy taking pride in my work and doing the best that I can. I’m planning to have a career in the industrial sector, being the best sparky that I can be.”

Do you have an apprentice that you’d like to nominate for the 2021 Apprentice Awards? Nominations for final year apprentices will open shortly. Get in touch with your local NECA Branch to find out more.



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December 2020




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BRANCH UPDATE Oliver Judd NECA NSW/ACT Executive Director

The environment we are operating in at the moment is extraordinary; none of us has experienced anything that’s had such an unpredictable or durable impact on the economy in general and on our industry. While the construction sector has been impacted less than other areas of the economy, everyone has felt the pinch, and this continues to be the message both in my discussions with members and in work we have been doing on your behalf. The broad message from our recent industry survey is one of restrained optimism that the industry can recover, even in light of concerns about security of payments and the pipeline of work. We are doing all we can from an advocacy standpoint to alleviate these pressures on your businesses through our engagement with government and key industry stakeholders.


Since the last edition, we have welcomed the 2020-21 federal budget, and in particular the investment in apprenticeships and subsidies to safeguard the employment of those already in training. We are working with all levels of governments to identify and pursue opportunities to support

DIGITISING TRADE LICENSING NECA NSW has been participating in consultation sessions, run by the Department of Customer Service, regarding the development and intended rollout of a digital White Card for tradespeople across New South Wales. The digital White Card is an initiative of the government that is intended as a first step toward the development of a full digital trade licence, replacing the need for tradespeople to carry multiple physical cards with them on building sites. The electrical contracting sector is among the first industry groups, along

members through training and direct support measures.

Building Confidence in NSW Further to the NSW Government Response to the Shergold Weir Building Confidence Report, NECA has continued to make submissions in response to concept papers issued for industry consultation by the Department of Customer Service. The government’s objective is to place the responsibility for defective building and design work onto building design practitioners, in order to safeguard the interests of their customers. Feedback from these industry submissions will inform legislative and regulatory responses by the NSW Government that build on its initial response to the report. Most recently, NECA has provided feedback on proposals that cover areas including the registration of design practitioners in NSW, on categories of buildings to be included in the response, and the monetary value of design work that should be subject to proposed regulations and/or legislative instruments arising from the consultation.

with air conditioning and refrigeration, included in the program as it rolls out across the trades sector generally. While initial design of the digital White Card was completed in early September, a pilot phase of the program is scheduled to run during January and February 2021, with development of the next phase of digital licences set to occur from January to March 2021. NECA has been accepted as an active participant in these next developmental phases of the digital licensing program. Should opportunities for contracting businesses to participate directly in these trials become available, NECA will keep you in the loop as they arise.

December 2020


Design and Building Practitioners Act (NSW) 2020 NECA has recently participated in consultations with the NSW Government regarding regulations being developed under the Design and Building Practitioners Act (NSW) 2020, which commences on 1 July 2021. NECA’s focus is safeguarding the role of electrical contractors under these draft regulations, which seek to define the requirements and responsibilities of different categories of professionals working on certain construction projects in New South Wales. NECA will be provide further information to members ahead of the commencement date to ensure electrical contractors are aware of their obligations under the Act.

Infinity Cable Strategy Update The need to locate and remove the thousands of kilometres of potentially dangerous Infinity cabling from homes and buildings in NSW and across Australia is critical to the safety of contractors, their employees, building owners and their properties. The Infinity Cables Industry Reference Group is working towards a new Infinity Cables Recall Compliance

and Enforcement Strategy 2020-23. NECA will continue to keep members appraised of developments with regard to Infinity Cables as the work of the group progresses, and the strategy is executed.

Social Infrastructure and the Impact of COVID-19 on the Electrotechnology Industry Through its Social Infrastructure Roundtable initiative – to which NECA made a submission – the NSW Treasury sought industry feedback on the impact of COVID-19 on the building and construction industry. In view of feedback from our members that pipelines of available work have diminished as a result of the pandemic, NECA identified 30 capital works projects being considered by the NSW state government that are at various stages of planning and approval processes. These projects, which are mainly within schools and hospitals, typically range in estimated value from $50 million to $100 million, with a small number exceeding $500 million. The projects are scattered across the state, representing opportunities for contracting businesses both in Sydney and in regional areas. NECA believes these projects should be fast-tracked for immediate approval,

to provide a boost to the construction industry. This is critical, given support such as JobKeeper will continue to taper and be withdrawn in early 2021, and as a ‘lag’ effect threatens our industry as the slowing of new projects in the private sector as a result of the pandemic sees work pipelines evaporate. We will keep members informed of any developments on this opportunity.

…and Finally…Merry Christmas! After what can only be described as a tumultuous year that has broken all the rules, it’s hard to believe that once again, the festive season is upon us. I would like to take the opportunity to wish all members, their employees and their families a very merry Christmas, and a safe, happy and prosperous New Year as we enter 2021. I would also like to thank NECA members for their support during this unusually challenging time; I know some have done it tough, and your ongoing participation is very much appreciated. It is to be hoped the new year brings a respite from the pressures our industry has faced during 2020. All of us at NECA look forward to working with you in 2021 as the economy recovers and more work flows through to keep your businesses strong and viable.

NECA PARTNERS WITH NSW GOVERNMENT ON PUSH TO IMPROVE ELECTRICAL SAFETY IN HOMES In November the NSW Government launched a campaign to educate consumers about the importance of electrical safety in and around the home. NECA is part of the NSW Government’s cross industry partnership between government, non-government and industry organisations, which will help reduce risk and potentially save lives. Of the 4,500 home fires in NSW each year 40% are caused by electrical faults and appliances. These fires could have been prevented by a licensed electrician checking electrical wiring and installing safety switches. The NSW campaign will focus on promoting actions homeowners can WWW.NECA.ASN.AU

take such as having the home checked by a licensed electrician, having safety switches professionally installed and testing them regularly. As part of the partnership, NECA will work with members to support outreach to homeowners about electrical safety. If you are keen to learn more, the NSW Government IS YOUR HOME SAFE? has created a suite of promotional ELECTRICAL SAFETY TIPS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW

materials including consumer letters and social media posts for contractors to use, as well as conversation starters if you’re looking for inspiration. You can also download and share NECA’s ‘Is your home safe?’ brochure from our website – a great resource to get consumers to start to think about where potential risks lie and how to address them.

For a copy, visit

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FINALLY THERE IS A BETTER OPTION FOR TRAINING ELECTRICAL APPRENTICES IN NSW AND ACT DUE TO OVERWHELMING DEMAND, NECA TRAINING HAS OPENED THE DOORS TO ITS ELECTRICAL TRAINING COLLEGES IN NSW AND ACT TO EXTERNAL APPRENTICES. AN APPRENTICE NO LONGER NEEDS TO BE EMPLOYED WITH NECA ELECTRICAL APPRENTICESHIPS TO ATTEND. NECA Training has demonstrated that its colleges provide superior learning outcomes and a better student experience. This translates to more efficient and safer apprentices on worksites. Employers that directly employ their apprentices have been demanding these better learning outcomes for their apprentices and NECA Training has listened.

documentation at no charge so you can focus on running your business. All you need to do is choose your apprentice.

NECA Training is now accepting enrolments for 2021.

Flexibility We accept students mid-way through an apprenticeship or even mid-way through a semester. If you’re not satisfied with the college your apprentice is currently attending and want to transition, please get in touch.

Why choose a NECA training college? No stress We take care of all your enrolment

Industry specialists Electrical training is all we do. Why enrol your apprentice at any generic college when you can train with the electrical industry specialists?

Government funded The college is government funded. For NSW businesses there is no charge for the employer or the apprentice. For ACT-based business, the cost is the same as CIT. Advanced learning Every apprentice attending the college is allocated their own computer and G-Suite account. Experienced trainers lead students through the content, supported by our digital platform. This digital content can be accessed from home at any time, so apprentices can reattempt quizzes or watch presentations again to reinforce their learning; a

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language, literacy and numeracy The primary rating factor for a Public (LLN) standard. Applicants will be Liability premium is often turnover or required to conduct an assessment to employee numbers. Insurers use this as determine their LLN level. A sample quiz a19, way of determining the overall exposure leaving apprentices and their demonstrating the required LLN can be for your business. A higher turnover employers in limbo, NECA Training and accessed by contacting NECA Training. indicates an increased chance of a its claim Apprenticeships quickly modified occurring or increased cost of a claim. schedule soan learning could continue. Delivery Format AtAllNECA Training we were followmoved a standard theory lessons online, NECA recommends that when it attending comes apprentice delivery format. and the number of apprentices time to renew yourwas policy, take to theadhere time practical lessons reduced For the first three stagesturnover of the or to review the estimated to social distancing requirements. apprenticeship, apprentices will be employee numbers for the upcoming required toelement attend one day a year. is particularly NECAThis Training andcollege Apprenticeships’ week and spend the rest ofdisruption the week on important ifmeant you are estimating a decline approach minimal to the job working with your business. over the next 12 months due to COVID-19.

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employs nearly 800 apprentices and In the fourth stage of the Have reviewed business thenyou partners withthe electrical contracting Apprenticeship, apprentices will description or activities listed onbe your businesses, who provide on-the-job required to complete their final capstone Public Liability policy recently? Does experience. assessment which isContractor the gateway it just say Electrical or toThe obtaining an electrical licence. successInsurers of NECAuse Training and Electrician? a very narrow Apprenticeships’ model has definition of ‘Electrician’ and minimised will usually Locations the provide impact on thefor fledgling careerslisted. of only cover the activities the apprentices. While some apprentice NECA Training colleges are located at: NECA recommends you reviewsuch opportunities havethat disappeared, 122 Hume Highway, Chullora NSW your business description annually asTennant those servicing businesses 49 Street, Fyshwick ACTin the and ask yoursector, insurernew or broker to add hospitality opportunities any activities not listed. Some of the have emerged, such as hospital Get in touch activities be stated include projects. that Withshould group training systems Data & Telecommunications Contractor, To register your interest visit like NECA’s, apprentices can continue to Security System Installation, Solar learn through periods of major change. or email design system and install.

site lockersrecognised or private residences. Nationally As only the business landscape changes Most policies offer you an amount for We delivers nationally recognised rapidly, it was great to see how the team unspecified Items. This makes the training that can be used anywherequote in came together to adapt and innovate process quick and easy but don’t expect Australia. All training is accredited and so that learning environment could that the the insurer will standards. simply hand you a complies with ASQA continue without blank cheque in thedisruption. event of claim. eProfiling Theset ability to change was noticed NECA recommends thatrapidly inon thethe event of We up your apprentice eProfiling by industry and even picked up by the a claim insurers will most likely ask you system at no extra cost. This system helps media, anof article in the SMH to provide evidence theusloss, which you, yourincluding apprentice and to keep a where NECA was praised for our ability will often include providing original digital record of your apprentice’s on-jobto adapt, andbecause recognised for our efforts ownership. We recommend keeping a in experience learning happens re-homing 100 apprentices. It was great spreadsheet of all your tools and save both on-site and in the classroom. that electrical contracting deemed various copies of the originalwas purchase an can essential service, which helps to We also invoice (USB,employ iCloud etc). keep demand We also employhigh. apprentices through our group training scheme, NECA Electrical Tom Emeleus While many training Apprenticeships, so ifproviders you’re nohave longer General Manager, NECA Training and Apprenticeships closed their doors due to COVID (02) 9188 4424 able to support your apprentice or if they For assistance in your business insurance needs, get in touch with the NECA Team on 1300 361 099 or visit the NECA Group website



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five fatalities 1,504 claims at a total cost of $8.7 million a total time lost of 3,141 weeks.

The construction industry accounted for 20.1 percent of contact with electricity claims, with electricians and other miscellaneous labourers the two leading occupations impacted.

Electrical Safety in Construction site visits From November 2020, SafeWork inspectors started visiting construction sites statewide, targeting general electrical safety. Inspectors are visiting construction and demolition sites to assess compliance with WHS laws and Australian Standards AS/NZS 3012- Electrical Installations - Construction and Demolition Sites. Inspectors will be talking with principal contractors, health and safety representatives, and workers, focusing on temporary power installations, interactions with overhead and underground services, electrical testing of power tools, leads, and other site equipment and checking that electrical work is being completed or supervised by licensed workers. Where necessary, referrals will be made to Fair Trading for further action.

Safe Solar Installation site visits Solar installation work is increasing in NSW due to rebate opportunities from the federal and state governments and the technology getting cheaper.



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A review of 37 serious incidents reported to SafeWork NSW between 2017 and 2020 involving roof-top solar installations found that most involved falls from heights - off ladders, through skylights, and off roofs. There were also a number of electrical and falling object incidents. From November 2020, inspectors are visiting sites state-wide to check compliance and talk with solar installers and their workers on how to work safely when installing roof-top solar. Inspectors are focusing on using the hierarchy of controls when it comes to falls protection, including ensuring roof rails or scaffolding is in place as the preferred protection, and where this is not practicable, compliant harnessbased systems of work are implemented. When it comes to electrical risks, inspectors will focus on ensuring power is off and tagged out, and that those doing electrical work hold the appropriate licence. SafeWork will also be working closely with Fair Trading on these site visits to ensure that electrical work is being conducted in accordance with the Wiring Rules and associated standards for solar installations.

Tips for a safer site When working around electricity and at heights ensure: 

falls from heights protection equipment required to do the job safely is identified at the time of quotation and in place before work commences roof rails and scaffolds are used, with harness systems only being considered where rails and scaffolds can’t be used workers are trained and supervised, particularly young or inexperienced workers temporary electrical installations and equipment on construction sites is maintained and tested by a licensed electrician before erecting scaffold or using mobile or fixed plant near overhead powerlines (within 4m), you have contacted the electricity network owner and implemented the prescribed control measures if excavation works are being conducted on-site, ensure a Dial Before You Dig (DBYD) search has been undertaken, pothole to identify the location and depth, and protect the infrastructure before proceeding. Remember: If You Don’t Know – Don’t Dig.

all electrical work on-site is conducted by a licensed person

Note that each site is different, and hazards could differ from site to site.

all electrical equipment used is tested and tagged and is used in conjunction with a residual current device (RCD or safety switch)

Safety is our responsibility. For more information on how to work safely with electrical equipment, or on roofs see

December 2020

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Superannuation Pensions Insurance ||| Financial FinancialAdvice Advice Superannuation Superannuation| ||Pensions Pensions | || Insurance Insurance Financial Advice Disclaimer: The information contained in this document is up-to-date at the time of its publication. However, some information can change over time. The contents are for general information only and do not constitute personal advice. Disclaimer: The information in this is up-to-date at theattime of its However, some information cancan change overover time. TheThe contents areare forforgeneral The information contained indocument this document is up-to-date the time ofpublication. its publication. However, some information change time. contents generalinformation informationonly onlyand anddodonot notconstitute constitutepersonal personal advice. advice. WeDisclaimer: recommend that youcontained consult with a suitably qualified person before making any financial decisions. We recommend that you with awith suitably qualified person before making any financial decisions. We recommend thatconsult you consult a suitably qualified person before making any financial decisions. Issued by NESS Super Pty Ltd ABN 28 003 156 812 RSE licence No L0000161 as trustee of the NESS Super ABN 72 229 227 691 RSE Registration No R1000115 AFSL No 238945 MySuper Authorisation 72 229 227 691 044. Issued by NESS Pty Ltd ABN 003 156 812 No L0000161 as trustee of the Super ABNABN 72 229 227227 691691 RSERSE Registration NoNo R1000115 AFSL Issued by Super NESS Super Pty Ltd ABN 28 003 156&RSE 812 RSE licence No L0000161 as trustee of NESS the NESS Super 72 229 Registration R1000115 AFSLNoNo238945 238945MySuper MySuperAuthorisation Authorisation72 72229 229227 227 691 691 044. 044. *Jointly owned by NECA NSW and28 the ETU (NSW ACTlicence branch). *Jointly*Jointly ownedowned by NECA NSW and & ACT&branch). by NECA NSWthe andETU the(NSW ETU (NSW ACT branch).


75 YEARS ON, THREE GENERATIONS OF ELECTRICIANS NECA MEMBER STEPHEN BODNAR, THE OWNER OF ELECTRIPAIR SERVICE CO (NSW) PTY LTD, ALWAYS DREAMT OF FLYING. SO, WHEN HE COMPLETED HIS HSC, HE WAS ON A MISSION TO ATTAIN HIS COMMERCIAL PILOTS LICENCE. HOWEVER, FLYING JOBS IN THE LATE ’70S WERE HARD TO COME BY, AND PURSUING A COMMERCIAL FLYING JOB COST ADDITIONAL TIME AND MONEY; NEITHER OF WHICH STEPHEN HAD MUCH OF. Where it all began John (Jack) Bodnar (Stephen’s dad) migrated to Australia with his parents as a four-year-old in 1928. He grew up in Adelaide tinkering with cat whisker radios and valve sound systems and eventually owned and operated a sound system business for the local dance halls. In 1940, during the height of World War II, John and his family moved to Summer Hill in Sydney’s Inner West, where he began his five-year Electrical Fitter Apprenticeship at Sydney’s Technical College. His employer at the time was W.J. Tooth and Tester Pty Ltd. Five years later, now qualified as an electrician, John rented a shop to run his electrical contracting business, Electricpair, where he also sold electrical hardware goods to other contractors. Soon after, John applied for membership with ECA – Electrical Contractors Association – however was rejected on the grounds that he did not have enough electrical experience. A few years later, he applied for membership again, and this time was accepted. Over the years, Electripair trained several apprentices, and in 1980, Stephen (John’s son) joined the company and commenced his electrical apprenticeship, eventually taking up further studies that included an Electrical and Electronics Engineering course and a Design Science and Building Services Master’s Degree. After eight years working with his dad, Stephen left the company and gained experience within other areas of the trade. Then, when John retired in 2004, Stephen returned to take over the business.

Stephen shares his story. Fast forward to 2020, what’s changed? This year marks an important year for Electripair, as the business celebrates being in operation for 75 years. Although we don’t have the repair shop anymore, we still continue to repair appliances. In the early days, the office staff included my mum and aunt. Now, however, the business is run by myself and my daughter Alana, who is also an electrician. What was your first impression about the industry? I was born into the industry; from a young age, Dad would take me on various jobs. Back then, there were no mobile phones, nor did we have a receptionist. As kids, we were trained to take customer calls. Eventually, Dad purchased one of the first answering machines, approximately 600mm x 600mm square, and rented a few pagers. My love of the wiring rules

To have your inspirational story told, reach out via email to Elizabeth Lombardo at



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would eventually be the carrot that kept me in the industry. Nowadays, the electrical industry is so vast, and there are so many opportunities to divert into different sectors. What truly amazes me the most are the experienced control guys who pick up a set of schematic plans and effortlessly find fault on a major air conditioning control panel. What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced? Operating and owning your own business means that you have the enduring challenge of working hard to build a reputation through ongoing advertising and marketing, as well as maintaining the bookkeeping side. What do you consider as your most memorable moment? I enjoy working with my daughter Alana, who is so eager to learn every facet of the trade. As well, continuing a familyowned business has given me the privilege of training and mentoring other apprentices.

December 2020


What advice would you give to an aspiring apprentice electrician? My advice is to ensure that you finish your studies and obtain your electrical licence, as I have seen too many apprentices asked to leave the trade without finishing. Additionally, from a mental health perspective, I have always lived by the motto of keeping a balanced lifestyle between work, rest and staying fit, which helps in relieving the stresses in business. What does it mean to be a NECA member? Being a NECA member means that I have access to a broad range of products and services including training and technical resources, that are relevant to my business needs. It also means that I have the opportunity to network with other electricians, suppliers and wholesalers at branch meetings and other industry events. Alana shares her story. What inspired you to become an electrician? From a young age I was more interested in building projects rather than being

studious. Even though my dad would bring me along to the occasional job site, I never thought then that this would be my career path. After pursuing a career in audio and visuals and realising that this was not the right career for me, I began to work with my dad in the business and eventually, albeit a little hesitant, signed up for a four-year electrical apprenticeship. What advice would you give to a young woman considering an electrical apprenticeship?

instance earlier on in my apprenticeship where a customer told me that a woman shouldn’t be working in this field; instead, they should be working in an office. I was somewhat surprised by this opinion; nevertheless, it didn’t affect my future performance. In fact, it strengthened my spirit. In reality, I have never thought of myself as a ‘female electrician’, just an electrician. I don’t expect to be treated differently because I am female. Nowadays, there are lots of men and women who work in nontraditional gender roles.

From my own experience, if the industry fascinates you, then give it a go. Being an electrician is very rewarding, although be prepared to work hard as it requires a certain amount of physical effort. One of my earliest memories is that I couldn’t lift a ladder off the roof of the van or hold my arms up for very long. However, gradually you become more robust, and these tasks later seem so trivial. As a woman in the industry, I haven’t really encountered any prejudice, and the industry as a whole has been very accepting. Looking back, there was one

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BRANCH UPDATE Peter Lamont NECA QLD Executive Director

What year 2020 has been NECA In our acurrent times with thefor COVID crisis, Queensland. We have seen an expansion many of our businesses have been pushed of their our services and resources across the to limits. NECA has been working east coasttotoengage our valued members. tirelessly with NECA federal and Queensland has recently gone through state governments to advocate on behalf a state election. This was thetimely first time of our industry and to provide and Queensland has held a four-year fixedcomprehensive information to our members. term election. Four-year cycles rather than the previousResources three years provide NECA Expands to more certainty, for governments and Support QLD Members also for business. During this time NECA Queensland has In the lead-up to the election NECA taken the opportunity to expand its engaged both major parties to ensure service offering to NECA members in that the views of our members were Queensland by sharing member service being put forward. In particular, delivery across the eastern seaboard NECA advocated for the introduction with NSW, ACT and Tasmania. of industry-based initiatives and funding streams to help kick-start NECA members across the state willthe Queensland economy. These included: now have access to a comprehensive introducing incentivesservices for households network of integrated that and businesses to undertake electrical brings together a team of highly experienced staff across our Branches. This includes a newly-formed Contact Centre to assist members with timely and immediate advice and services relating to technical, safety, legal, industrial relations, HR and general membership enquiries.

are on hand to helpefficiency members,upgrades; particularly safety and energy releasingthese and fast-tracking a pipeline through challenging times. of ‘shovel ready’ large-scale projects in the construction sector; attracting Safety Resources and retaining a diverse workforce and NECA members in Queensland can also apprentices; reforming unfair contract provisions; continuing suspend which payroll access expanded HSEQtoresources tax; and reducing red tape. that a includes a free Safety STARNow system government installed NECA for members,has andbeen a broader Technical will engage Base. with the government Knowledge Fornew those members to make sure ourfrom voicetheir is heard. wanting more safety systems, NECA WHS has extended itsmost collection Lastly, 2020 has been the unusual of safety to include and tiringpackages year, and many of ustwo are new digital HSEQwhen systems that can looking to 2021 hopefully we be can purchased. move forward and have our daily life return to normal.

The Road Ahead

NECA Queensland would like to say NECA to be hosting thankQLD youistoexcited our members and Business aPartners digital education program for for their ongoing support, of contractors build their spite NECA and thetoindustry. Weskills wish in everyone of COVIDChristmas restrictions. look forward a Merry andWe a prosperous 2021. to 2021, when we will be rolling out our long-anticipated roadshows across Queensland. More information will follow over the coming months. Thank you to our members and Business Partners for your ongoing support of NECA QLD and our industry.


By sharing services, this has enabled us to expand locally in other areas including in our on-the-ground team of staff who

Several key amendments to the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Act 2017 (Qld) (‘Act’) have been released by the Queensland Government that will impact on NECA members in Queensland. Since 1 October 2020, a number of changes NECA Queensland Executive Director have come into operation concerning and ACRS Director Peter Lamont hasnew offences that areas now subject to been appointed a member of penalties, the supporting statements claims Electrical Safety Boardfor bypayment the Minister and payment of adjudicated amounts for Education and Industrial Relations,and payment withholding requests. the Hon Grace Grace MP.

does not affect the validity of the payment claim, but is subject to a maximum fine of $13,345.00. There is no prescribed form in the Act for supporting statements, but section 75(6) provides that a supporting statement is a written document recommendations to the Regulator about declaring that all subcontractors have of energy efficiency and the performance been paid equipment. all amounts owing to them by electrical the claimant at the date of the payment Minister said “the Board claim; or,Grace if a subcontractor hasprovides not been an essential link between industry, the paid the full amount owed to them, then community and government in declare working the Head Contractor must also to electrical safety.” theimprove following:



The Board’sStatements function isfor to give advice and Supporting Payment Claims make recommendations to the Minister Head who engage aboutContractors policies, strategies and legislative subcontractors willelectrical now be required arrangements for safety. under Its the Act to lodge a supporting statement. secondary role is to provide advice and Failure to provide a supporting statement

1. the name of the unpaid Peter’s appointment is forsubcontractor; three years, 2. the1amount unpaid; from Octoberstill 2020. 3. details of the unpaid payment claim for the subcontractor;

December 2020 SEPTEMBER


WAGE THEFT IS NOW A CRIME IN QUEENSLAND Under the new Criminal Code and Other Legislation (Wage Theft) Amendment Bill 2020 (Bill), which was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 9 September 2020, employers that engage in deliberate wage theft face jail terms of up to 10 years, or 14 years when fraud is involved. The Bill was introduced to ensure that wage recovery processes for Queensland workers are simple, quick and low-cost. The effect of the Bill is that it amends the Queensland Criminal Code definition of stealing so as to provide an offence against an employer who intentionally fails to make payment of wages or entitlements when it becomes payable to their employee. How does wage theft occur? Wage theft can take various forms. These include underpayment of wages and having entitlements such as leave and penalty rates withheld. It also includes an employer not making required superannuation contributions on an employee’s behalf. Unpaid wages may occur due to a range of factors, including but not limited to:

4. the date the subcontractor carried out the construction work; 5. the reasons why the amount was not paid in full. It is important to note that the requirement to provide a supporting statement does not apply to subcontractors who engage other subcontractors. Penalties for failing to pay Scheduled Amount Where parties issue a payment schedule, they must pay the scheduled amount by the due date. Failure to pay the full amount is now subject to a maximum penalty of $13,345.00. Penalties for failing to pay Adjudicated Amount A respondent must pay the adjudicated amount to the claimant within 5 business days of receiving the adjudicator’s decision.


1. paying the incorrect hourly rates of pay; 2. not paying penalty rates for overtime hours and weekend or public holiday work; 3. paying cash in hand; 4. requiring prospective employees to work unpaid trial or ‘test’ shifts; 5. expecting employees to work through their breaks or to attend work early or stay after closing time to close up; 6. requiring employees to spend their own money on costs that are the cost of running a business; and 7. not paying employees for attending training or even doing online training, or for attending staff meetings. Further, deductions from wages or requiring that employees pay back

money out of their wages will in most cases not be legal. Take home message Employers must ensure that they are not engaging in wage theft, which may include making deductions that are unlawful. If employers are found to be guilty of wage theft, there is a real risk that the employer will face a jail term of up to 10 years under this new legislation. Prior to making any deductions, contact the legal team at NECA to ensure that any deductions the employer proposes to make are legal. NECA’s legal experts can carry out wage audits to ensure that employers are not engaging in wage theft so as to avoid contraventions under the Bill.

Marina Galatoulos Solicitor, CTI Lawyers

From 1 October 2020, failure to pay an adjudicated amount within 5 business days of receiving the adjudicator’s decision will result in a maximum fine of $26,690.00. Further, a respondent must notify the QBCC Adjudication Registrar in the prescribed form (that may be downloaded from the QBCC website) within 5 days of making payment that they have paid the adjudicated amount and provide the Registrar with evidence that the payment has been made. Failure to do so is subject to a maximum penalty of $2,669.00. In accordance with the amendments of the Act, any claimant who intends to withdraw their adjudication application must notify the registrar as soon as practicable. If the claimant fails to do so, they may be liable for a maximum fine of $2,669.00. Payment withholding requests The amendment to the Act to provide for payment withholding requests is a

welcome change that will bring QLD into line with similar security of payment legislation provisions in other states. If the respondent fails to pay the adjudicated amount by the due date, the claimant may now serve a payment withholding request in the approved form on the head contractor, principal or financier. The claimant must also provide a copy of the request to the respondent. Charge over property The Act also now provides an entitlement to register a charge in the approved form over the land on which works were undertaken, provided that the respondent owns the land. The team at CTI Lawyers are familiar with the changes to the Act and experienced in dealing with construction disputes under the Act. Contact us today on 1300 361 099 for further information and assistance.

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FOR NECA MEMBER HEIDI JONSSON, THE FOUNDER OF NORSAFE, A CHANCE DISCUSSION SOME TEN YEARS AGO WITH AN ELECTRICIAN, WAS A LIGHTBULB MOMENT THAT LED TO BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL TESTING AND TAGGING BUSINESS AND A PASSION FOR WORKPLACE SAFETY. based technology. This implies that in comparison to other industries, we don’t seem to be advancing very quickly. As a business owner, how has your role evolved? In the last few years, my role has changed significantly, through the ongoing improvement of my personal development skills and implementing new business software to streamline processes and reduce reliance on myself. Nowadays, I rarely do fieldwork and tend to spend plenty of time organising work and managing the legislative requirements for our larger clients. However, on the odd occasion when I am in the field, I do the remote work, as it involves travelling to remote indigenous communities in Cape York. Even though I enjoy this element of the business, it does involve an extreme amount of planning to get the job done. Where did it all begin? Coming from a farming and plant operating background, a career in the electrical industry wasn’t my first choice. However, the death of my little brother from a farming incident, made me want to create a difference in other people’s lives. Having no prior experience within the trade, I set out attaining my electrical qualification. Thankfully, in those early days, I had some industry contacts who supported and encouraged me, as learning the concept around insulation resistance and leakage current took some time to sink in. How has the business progressed since those early days? Ten years on, I have built my business from the ground up and now employ a team of eight people, mainly women, who travel to all regions in far north Queensland conducting testing and tagging, RCD testing, thermal imaging and appliance repairs. My dedicated team are even as passionate as I am



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in protecting our clients, and I am also proud of their evolution. Not only have they grown into a confident group of individuals, but along the way they have acquired a whole new skill set and adapted to varied scenarios. Starting from a test and tag service, Norsafe now incorporates Thermal Imaging for large clients, with a Flir T640 camera and RCD testing in our scope of services. We provide an audit service for business and farmers in far north Queensland, along with checking extension leads, old electrical boards and old electrical machinery. More importantly, we are continually in search of new and improved options to boost our efficiency and service in capturing data for our clients and ways to streamline the processes. Test and tag is an opportunity for me to do my bit to prevent workplace deaths and injuries. Unfortunately, the test and tag industry is not large enough for the key players to invest a lot of time and money in new data capture systems and cloud-

Were there any surprises or challenges along the journey? I saw test and tag as a niche job opportunity within the electrical industry. Most electricians weren’t interested in this work in those days, and their opinions still haven’t changed. Crawling through roof spaces and digging trenches to run a cable is not anything I aspire to do. However, with test and tag, I feel as though we are making an enormous contribution to electrical safety. To date, we have removed or rectified over 4000 hazardous items! One of the biggest challenges we face is people’s blatant ignorance of electrical safety and denial in the essential requirements in testing and tagging. Subsequently, the first day on a new job usually involves educating our customers and alleviating any confusion and misinformation around test and tag requirements, safety switches and circuit breakers.

December 2020


Can you highlight some of your most significant accomplishments? Where do I start! I would have to say that being one of the first women on the NECA Queensland Executive Board. Together with Trish Elsden, from O’Brien Electrical Cairns Central, we give our best efforts to ensure North Queensland contractors have a voice in the industry. Another accomplishment is assisting in identifying multiple schools in Cape York that were lacking in RCD (residual current device) protection. This ultimately led to DEET retrofitting RCD’s to more than 1000 existing circuits to all the Cape York Schools. Most recently, I was named Queensland Regional Business Excellence Award winner in the National AusMumpreneur Awards for 2020 for achieving outstanding business success. Lastly, my little dream has turned into an income stream for multiple families. Not only am I so proud that every week I can provide several families with an income and lifestyle job, but I can also show my son that through hard work and success you can achieve your dream. The reason I started my business was so that I could be a better mum, as before this I was working 12-hour shifts. What advice would you give to a young woman considering an electrical apprenticeship or starting their own business? That there is no gender at work. I have always been interested in male

stereotype jobs and thankful to people who don’t see any difference. Diversity in any industry brings a realm of wealth, benefit, and differing perspectives. A lot of the hype around women within this industry is perception. This trade is so rewarding in that it brings a multitude of benefits such as financial freedom, personal and career satisfaction. Being my own boss has allowed me to make choices and take control over my life. My hard work has allowed my family to enjoy many things that would generally be out of reach. My team and I have proven that no matter your age or gender, you can achieve amazing things. My tip: Follow your dream and make it happen. Although you may face obstacles, the reward outweighs the risk every time.

How has NECA assisted you and your business? Being a part of NECA has benefited my business and personal achievements. It always amazes me how willing other contractors are to offer help when in need. Many of these relationships have been formed from associations with NECA through networking at branch meetings and industry events with NECA’s Business Partners and other industry specialists. Knowing that experts in this field are only a telephone call away is extremely reassuring, and I encourage more electrical contractors to take advantage of what a NECA membership has to offer. Throughout this journey, I have had to learn to be a diligent employer. With NECA’s support, especially in HR, Legal, and networking opportunities, it has helped in overcoming a number of challenges faced.

To have your inspirational story told, reach out via email to Elizabeth Lombardo at

BRANCH UPDATE Larry Moore NECA SA/NT Executive Director

2020 HAS BEEN A YEAR WE WILL PROBABLY NEVER FORGET. THE START OF THE YEAR SEEMED INTERMINABLY SLOW AND THEN THE LAST 6 MONTHS HAS PASSED BY AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT AND HERE WE ARE IN DECEMBER AT THE END OF ANOTHER YEAR. Thankfully things are slowly starting to return to a new state of “normal” in South Australia and the Northern Territory, which means jobs are improving in the lead-up to Christmas, events are back on and people are out and about again. In particular, it is pleasing to see that the majority of our members are reasonably busy with projects and jobs in both SA and NT and the state and federal government assistance has been helpful in keeping employees in jobs and the economy stimulated. However, now more than ever, it is important to take care of ourselves and as we head into the Christmas period, we certainly hope everyone will take a well-deserved break to relax and recharge the batteries for next year. It has certainly been a busy year for NECA SA/NT, assisting members handle the COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions and of course, lobbying and advocating on behalf of our members to ensure they have been able to gain assistance from the state and federal governments during these challenging times.

anticipate the reach to be almost double this number as the webinar was broadcasted to members and their employees, and was also recorded and placed on YouTube for others to view at their leisure. We discussed the latest updates and news from NECA SA/NT together with presentations from SA Power Networks and the Office of the Technical Regulator with their standards updates. 





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Notwithstanding COVID-19 we have managed to run several successful events and training sessions for our members this year. The highlights include: 

The delivery of an informative Roadshow Webinar to replace our Roadshow Seminar Series that was unable to take place due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The webinar had over 350 attendees, however we

The Official Launch of our new office space, Specialist Contractors Centre, on Friday 17 July where committee members and staff from NECA SA/ NT, RACCA SA, Master Plumbers SA and Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors Association (AMCA) SA came together with industry to celebrate this great collaboration of like-minded associations. Working with Specialist Contractors SA to run a successful ‘Contract Terms and Risk Management for Subcontractors’ seminar with Clelands Lawyers Adelaide. The delivery of business management webinars with our business consultant, Ray Hodge, including Sales and Marketing and Leadership. Working with Charles Darwin University (CDU) to run a Tradie Night for electricians in the Darwin area to keep them up to date on the latest industry changes.

We held our 2020 Apprentice Awards Dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre on Friday 9 October 2020 and with over 230 people

December 2020


in attendance, it was a huge success. We wish to thank our sponsors sincerely for supporting this event; we simply would not be able to run it without them. All the apprentices nominated this year were of outstanding quality. It was clear they all loved their work and aspire to go far within the industry. We wish to congratulate them all for their achievements and wish them all the best in their careers. A special good luck also goes to our three winners in the NECA National Apprentice Awards!

Membership We believe we have also continued this year to excel in providing relevant information and services to members in a number of important areas, including Human Resource Management, Industrial Relations, Technical and Contractual matters, Workplace Health and Safety, Business Management and Marketing, Training and Education and Technical and Licensing issues. Particularly with COVID-19 this year we have seen a significant increase in membership engagement as members seek support from their industry body. It is also pleasing to note we have had many new members join the association this year, looking for advice and assistance to successfully run their business.

HSEQ Digital This year our HSEQ Management System has continued to grow and has expanded to a new digital offering. The HSEQ Digital encompasses the entire HSEQ Management System but in a cloud based digital format where members can access the system and sign documents via their phones or tablets. We are extremely proud of this new offering and we hope members find it a very useful product. For members that do not require the full system, we also have the HSE Digital – Small Business which uses the same technology but only covers the documentation needed to cover your small business WHS requirements.

Industry Representation and Projects At the industry level we have continued to work with other industry stakeholders such as government regulators, both national and state, supply authorities, manufacturers and wholesalers, where


we have continued to maintain a strong and dynamic presence to represent the interests of contractors. This year we have again represented the interests of members in many other diverse areas which have included the Chair of the Electrotechnology Industry Reference Committee (IRC), which has finalized the new Certificate III in Electrotechnology (Electrician) Training Package which will now roll out in RTO’s across the country. NECA SA/NT has also been instrumental in the development of the new Dual Trade Apprenticeship, titled “Electrical Refrigeration/Air Conditioning Technician”, which will see the completion of both the Electrical trade Certificate III (UEE30811) and the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration trade Certificate III (UEE32211), providing a tradesperson fully licensed in both trades. We are extremely proud of this initiative, as it is a first across Australia and will bring substantial future benefits to those companies who operate in both industry sectors.

NECA Careers & Apprenticeships (NCA) Our Group Training Organisation, NECA Careers & Apprenticeships (NCA), has grown, despite the challenges of COVID-19, and as I am writing this report we currently have 87 apprentices and one office administration trainee, with several more apprentices scheduled to be employed before the end of the year. We are looking forward to an even more successful year in 2021 where we will continue to provide quality apprentices to our members to ensure a bright future for our industry. The Dual Trade Apprenticeship as mentioned above will be facilitated through NCA, with apprentices employed by the GTO and hosted out to our NECA and RACCA members.

Specialist Contractors SA As previously mentioned, we have co-located with Master Plumbers SA and AMCA SA to create the ‘Specialist Contractors Centre’. As members would be aware, we established a not-for-profit association, Specialist Contractors SA, comprised of leading trade associations

several years ago with the specific goal of working together to achieve fair contracts in the building and construction industry, including the fair and equitable allocation of risk. With three out of five of the members of Specialist Contractors SA now under one roof, it has made it easier for collaborative advocacy and lobbying to occur, as well as providing training and education for our members. Stay tuned for more events and seminars in 2021.

Closing To all our members, we sincerely thank you for your support during the year and I trust NECA SA/NT has been able to help you and your business throughout the challenging year it has been. I would also like to acknowledge and thank our sponsors of the events that we held and look forward to working with them again in the New Year. In particular, I would like to thank our annual partners: Cbus Super, Clipsal by Schneider, Rexel, simPRO, MEGT and NHP for their on-going support. A very special thankyou to the NECA SA/NT and NCA teams: Sabina, Leah, Sheila, Ben S, Kevin, Craig, Ally, Ben M and Natasha whose untiring efforts ensure that NECA SA/NT, NECA Careers & Apprenticeships (NCA), RACCA SA and Specialist Contractors SA run smoothly and effectively. I would also like to thank the NECA SA/NT Committee of Management: Andy Thorpe, Greg Hodby, Andrew Cross, Simon Butler, Jarrod Poulton, Chris Mattner and Ben Lindop, and of course those other members who represent NECA SA/NT and RACCA SA on various Committees, Boards and other bodies. We are extremely fortunate to have such a dedicated and hard-working group of people who work so well together representing your interests. Finally, best wishes to you and your families for a safe and happy Christmas and we look forward to working with you in the New Year.

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NECA SA/NT AND RACCA SA ARE PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE OUR NEW DUAL ELECTRICIAN AND REFRIGERATION/ AIR CONDITIONING APPRENTICESHIP. Recently developed in South Australia in conjunction with the state training authority and the Training and Skills Commission (TASC), this new apprenticeship will train for electrical and refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) work concurrently, resulting in a multi-skilled technician, able to perform the full scope of work of both disciplines. Electrical Refrigeration Air Conditioning Technician Apprentices will complete both the Electrical trade Certificate III (UEE30811) and the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration trade Certificate III (UEE32211), so they will graduate fully licensed in both trades. The Minister for Innovation and Skills in South Australia, the Honourable David Pisoni MP, was excited to announce this new apprenticeship at the NECA SA/NT 2020 Apprentice Awards Dinner in October. “The qualification sets a new benchmark in Australia for the delivery of trade qualifications in two disciplines and establishes a pilot model for additional dual trade pathways in the future,” Minister Pisoni said. “An innovative approach to apprenticeship delivery, the dual trade qualification is designed to increase productivity and capability for businesses, who can in turn offer customers a broader range of services. “For some time now the refrigeration and airconditioning sector has reported a shortage of electrical refrigeration technicians who are fully skilled and licensed in both the electrical and refrigeration trades. “Despite both qualifications being in demand, until now the only way to resolve this issue was by people completing two apprenticeships – a pathway that can take up to eight years. “Through concurrent delivery of the training, it is intended that the dual trade qualification can be achieved



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in just five years, making the new apprenticeship attractive to both employees and employers.” NECA SA/NT Executive Director Larry Moore said: “We’ve worked closely with the state government to develop this dual trade apprenticeship, and we’re excited to see this implemented, so that our members can benefit from having multiskilled workers.” Mr Moore commented that the qualification has been planned for almost a decade and will better align the apprentices’ learning and skills development with their on-job experience. Mr Moore added that industry requirements for assessed workplace evidence have been addressed by specifying a single database for apprentice profiling to replace the two existing single trade databases. A thirdparty provider will finish designing and build the new database. To develop the program, RAC and Electrical subject matter experts from both private and government South Australian RTOs mapped out the units from both qualifications, identified those that overlapped, then constructed a single program, which runs for a nominal 1,540 hours, compared to the usual 1,060 hours for a single-trade qualification. Mr Moore says that the qualification makes sense for HVAC&R technicians, when so much of their work requires a full electrical licence. NECA SA/NT member Damien Staltari, Managing Director of D-STAL Electrical, welcomed the dual trade pathway.

“This reform and the new wage subsidy from the federal government for new apprentices will encourage employers to take on new or additional apprentices, which will create more jobs.” “Having people employed with this dual trade will deliver efficiencies on certain jobs for a business like ours, which will allow us to grow our business and deliver more cost-effective services.” A pilot project will be rolled out in 2021 with the recruitment and employment of these new dual trade apprentices managed by our Group Training Organisation, NECA Careers and Apprenticeships (NCA). NCA will be searching for candidates to be the first dual trade apprentices to start in January 2021. NCA are currently searching for host employers who can take these apprentices for their on-the-job training. Over the 5-year apprenticeship the apprentices will be placed with both electrical and refrigeration/air conditioning contractors, or ideally those contractors who undertake both areas of work, in order to meet all the competencies of their training. If you are interested in being involved in this innovative project, please contact the NECA Careers & Apprenticeships (NCA) office on (08) 8272 0799 or

Leah Boyce Business Relationship Manager, NECA SA/NT

December 2020



IN STRESSFUL TIMES COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on people all over the world, causing stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. It is always important to look out for your workers, but especially so during times like this, and there are a number of things you can do to help. MATES in Construction is a suicide awareness and prevention program that is designed specifically for the Australian construction industry and is the only one of its kind in South Australia. They offer an integrated program of training and ongoing support that creates a workplace community of ‘mates looking out for mates.’ Their program is based on the fact that suicide is everyone’s business and it provides ways for the industry to take an active role in improving the mental health and wellbeing of workers.

MATES SA is based locally, so the team is available to help whenever you need them, even at short notice. If you experience an incident on site, such as a near miss or fatality, an incident that involves members of the public, or even the loss of a workmate outside of work, the MATES team will be on site to support your team. When greater support is needed, MATES Case Managers work directly with people at risk and help them to develop an individually tailored support plan, specific to their situation.

their services and the number of people who turn to them for support. They also offer most of their training and all their support services free of charge.

Having delivered suicide awareness training to over 23,000 people in South Australia since 2012, MATES in Construction has made an extremely positive impact on the construction and allied industries. As training numbers grow each year, so does the demand for

If you’ve not engaged MATES in Construction yet, give them a call. One of their team will make a time to come out and talk you through their program and tell you what we can offer to you and your team.

During the COVID 19 pandemic, MATES SA has continued to operate. While many EAPs and other services ceased faceto-face support, MATES was still there, supporting our industry. They even expanded their services to include video toolbox meetings, to let your workforce know they were there if needed. 1300 642 111

Local service and support

Our dedicated and experienced statebased teams can help get your super sorted so you can get on with running your business.

1300 361 784

You should read the Employer Handbook, Cbus Industry Superannuation Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and other relevant documentation to decide whether Cbus is right for you. Call 1300 361 784 or visit

Cbus’ Trustee: United Super Pty Ltd ABN 46 006 261 623 AFSL 233792 Cbus ABN 75 493 363 262.


NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR INSTALLERS IN RECENT MONTHS NECA SA/NT HAS BEEN WORKING WITH THE OFFICE OF THE TECHNICAL REGULATOR ON THE NEW REGULATORY CHANGES TO SMARTER HOMES, WHICH HAS SEEN SOME SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN THE SOLAR INDUSTRY. These new changes are designed to assist AEMO to better manage the challenges arising from the increasing and unmanaged supply of electricity to the grid from rooftop solar in South Australia. However, the changes mean more responsibility for electrical contractors to ensure they are meeting the requirements of new technical standards and also educating their customers about the new regulations. As of September 2020, there are now more than 278,000 homes with rooftop solar installed in South Australia, plus an increasing number of small business systems, and new installations are rapidly continuing. Following the advice from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the Department of Energy and Mining (DEM) in South Australia has implemented a number of new technical standards and requirements for smaller generating systems, such as rooftop solar, from 28 September 2020. These are major changes that affect SA members and customers will also need to be informed of their responsibilities moving forward. Amendments to the Electricity (General) Regulations 2012 have taken place to implement these new technical standards and requirements. These include: 

Voltage ride through standards for electricity generating systems connected via an inverter Remote disconnection and reconnection requirements

Export limit requirements

Smart meter technical standards.



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Why Are These Changes Being Implemented? The government of South Australia is implementing new ‘Smarter Homes’ initiatives to support the transition to a modern renewable power system. These new technical standards and requirements manage some of the emerging risks to SA’s power grid, help operate the electricity network more efficiently, and help to prepare for the smarter energy technology in our future. These changes have been designed to both increase the amount of generation connected to the distribution network in the future and to assist AEMO to maintain the required balance between our electricity supply and demand to help avoid potential outages.

What Do You Need to Know Before Installing an Electricity Generating Plant? Voltage ride through standards for electricity generating systems connected via an inverter There are new testing requirements for inverters from Monday 28 September 2020. Only inverters that have been assessed and approved will be allowed to be installed. There are now over 320 models of inverters which have been assessed and approved for installation by the Office of the Technical Regulator. The list of approved inverters can be found by visiting Remote Disconnection and Reconnection Requirements Electricity generating plants will need to have an approved nominated relevant agent from Monday 28 September 2020. A relevant agent is required to act on instructions to manage rooftop solar output in an emergency.

From 28 September 2020, the owner or operator of a designated electricity generating plant must ensure that the following requirements are complied with in relation to the plant: a) the plant must be capable of being remotely disconnected from, and reconnected to, the relevant distribution network; b) the owner or operator must give a relevant agent written authorisation to remotely disconnect the plant from, and reconnect the plant to, the relevant distribution network in circumstances where the owner or operator of the plant is lawfully directed to disconnect or reconnect the plant. Designated Electricity Generating Plant The remote disconnection and reconnection requirement only applies to designated electricity generation plant, which is solar photovoltaic systems connected to a relevant distribution network. Declared Components The remote disconnection and reconnection requirement only applies to existing designated electricity generating plant when a declared component is replaced. The Technical Regulator has developed guidelines for Declared Components for the purpose of this requirement which can be found at Relevant Agents As abovementioned, a relevant agent must be nominated by the customer to provide remote disconnection and reconnection services of their designated electricity generating plant in an emergency. The Office of the Technical Regulator has developed guidelines for

December 2020


the responsibility of the Distribution Network Service Provider, SA Power Networks (SAPN) prior to 1 December 2017. The responsibility was then transferred to a new Participant – a Metering Coordinator (MC) - as part of the AEMC’s final rule. In addition, retailers are now required to appoint an MC for their customers, unless the customer has appointed an MC themselves. In South Australia, roughly 4,000 smart meters are installed each month. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as the customer having a new solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed.

the roles and responsibilities of a relevant agent. The OTR also published a list of relevant agents who are registered and approved to perform these services. The list of relevant agents can be found on the Department of Energy and Mining website. Relevant agents are able to use different technologies to connect to the electricity generating plant and we encourage members to become familiar with the different types of technology used, to help determine which agent is going to be best suited to their needs and the needs of their customers. Export Limits A new technical standard requires that prescribed generating systems connecting to the South Australian distribution network are capable of being export limited and for export limits to be updated remotely. This contributes to increasing the ability of the distribution network to host distributed energy resources, by avoiding scenarios where the energy exported may exceed the capacity of the local network, or where there is insufficient demand for that energy in other parts of South Australia. The standard, which is in effect as of 28 September 2020, requires that the owner or operator of an electricity generating plant that will be installed on the SA distribution network ensures that the inverter is remote communications capable.


For further information and guidelines on this new standard, visit Smart Meter Technical Standards A new technical standard for smart meters is in effect as of 28 September 2020. The standard requires that they must be capable of separately measuring and controlling an electricity generating plant and controllable load from essential load and must be installed in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Technical Regulator. A smart meter is an advanced, digital meter which records electricity usage every 30 minutes and sends usage information remotely. It must also meet the minimum services specification, as per the National Electricity Rules (NER). The minimum services specification sets out a list of services that a meter must be capable of providing, including (but not limited to) the remote deenergisation and re-energisation of the smart meter, rather than focusing on the technical components that must be included (such as the number of elements). Often, these technical components are left to others to determine, as well as other national standards that industry must comply with (for example, AS/NZS 3000, which details the Wiring Rules). The installation, maintenance and management of electricity meters was

Often, a new smart meter is wired in the lowest cost manner and the installation process includes aggregating all distributed solar generation at the site, together with the customer’s general load. Customers with controlled load have this controlled load separated from other essential load, however, in general, load associated with smart appliances is aggregated with essential load. From 28 September 2020, a meter installed at a connection point must be capable of separately measuring and controlling an electricity generating plant and controllable load from the essential load. The meter installation is required to comply with the new Technical Regulator Guideline – “Smart Meter Minimum Technical Standard and associated Deemed to Comply Wiring Arrangements” which can be found on the Department of Energy and Mining website.

What Information Should I Provide to Customers/Owners? Customers/owners affected by these changes should be made aware of the new requirements. The customer/owner should seek information upfront on any associated charges for maintaining the disconnect/reconnect agreement. The Department of Energy and Mining has developed a fact sheet which members can provide to their customers. Further Information Contact the NECA SA/NT office on (08) 8272 2966 or the Office of the Technical Regulator on (08) 8226 5518.

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BRANCH UPDATE Wayne Hobson NECA TAS President

2020 has been a year many of usAare the current meters’ second 2020 CONTINUES TO BE CHALLENGING TIMEelectronic FOR EVERYONE. keen to see the back of. leg. This is usually used for the RUNNING A BUSINESS IN THESE TIMES HAStariff BEEN heating andPARTICULARLY has a rating of 40 Tasmania has however held its position amps; for loads above this a second DIFFICULT WITH THE EVER-CHANGING RESTRICTIONS, as the best performing economy in meter may be required. If the load is UNCERTAINTY IN THE ECONOMY. Australia in its ownAND right.DOWNTURN According 

to recent CommSec research (October 2020), Tasmania is ranked first in relation to population growth, equipment Our ability to work together has resulted investment, finance, dwellings in our state’shousing successful COVID-19 safe record. Thisretail is testament to the responsible starts and trade. This said, there is and swift reduction actions ofin our government, a marked construction work and the8.1%) Tasmanian public. Bothyear the – and (down from the previous state and federal governments are to beis running a business in these conditions commended for their efforts to alleviate challenging and ever-changing. the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, more than ever, all levels of government legislation need to work changes together and Upcoming in partnership with the private sector One upcoming our industry to look at new change ways to that support needs to be aware of isjobs the Electrical Safety businesses, protect and attract new entrants into the Tasmanian electrotechnology industry.

above this limit, it has been requested this be noted in the EWR to minimise any hold-ups in the connection of Bill 2020 (the Bill), which will be tabled in supply, and; State Parliament later this year. Currently,  the Embedded Generation Portal, Tasmanian legislation governing electricity safety iswill spread across three in Acts that which receive changes have not been updated theupgrade 1990s. November 2020; a partsince of this is the requirement to submit asNECA has been advocating on behalf of built information plus alterations to members and made a submission on the the Connection Portal. The Service Bill in early 2020. and Installation Requirements are The Bill will consolidate expected by mid-2021.all electricity safety requirements, making it easier For information about NECA meetings for people to find and understand safety and events visit the NECA Group website. We look forward to having you join us.

Tasmania’s CPD Training Program

Electrical Safety in Tasmania

The Tasmanian CPD Program has been designed to be COVID-19 Safe, moving The Electrical Safety Bill (the Bill) into a virtual training environment. is currently before the Tasmanian Three courses have recently been Parliament. delivered, including ‘Safe Working on The Bill is designed to consolidate three or near low-voltage equipment’, ‘Debt existing Acts into one. Among the proposed Recovery for Electrical Contracting changes are periodic inspections, Businesses’ and ‘Emergency Lighting’. THE TASMANIAN GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED testing and maintenance requirements ofRECENTLY NECA is currently finalising PLANS a schedule electrical such as private for 2020-21 training,AND and will FOR THEinstallations, DEVELOPMENT OF TASTAFE’S NEWCPD TRADES WATER lines. Business owners also need to be continue to engage with members on CENTRE aware thereOF hasEXCELLENCE. been an alteration to the their ongoing training needs. code of practice regarding the supervision From the Tasmania NECA Council, have of electrical apprentices. Tasmanian construction This is a The state and federal funded project will a great Christmas and a sector. safe new year. great opportunity for the electrotechnology see the construction of a new, stateNECA will continue to engage with the industry, as the facility will have a strong of-the-art training facility that willas government and update members focus on electrical trades, including deliver trainingprogress. across a range of trades, these reforms refrigeration and air conditioning, as well including electrical, plumbing and water, as access to upskilling in renewables and refrigeration and air conditioning and Electrical Contracting Industry hydrogen technologies. smart buildings technologies, in order to Liaison Meeting meet industry demands. There are currently more than 500 At ourthe most recent Electrical electrotechnology apprentices at TasTAFE Over past two years, NECAContracting has Industry Liaison meeting, topics and the new site at Clarence will expand been working with federal two and key state of discussion to included: capacity and see more tradespeople governments train more qualified trained in this key industry. electricians and meet the demands of the



December 2020 SEPTEMBER


CBOS CLARIFICATION OF METERING REQUIREMENTS The Consumer, Building & Occupational Services (CBOS) has released an Electrical Standards and Safety Advisory Note 3 for Electricity Consumption Metering Installation Requirements, detailing metering locations and associated restrictions. The Electricity Consumption Metering Requirements (Tasmania) Code of Practice provides particular requirements for the location of metering enclosures and associated equipment. In order to provide further clarification on these requirements, CBOS has now provided the following explanations. 1. Meter Enclosure Locations Ideally meters should be located towards the roadside of a property, however locations that are on an outside wall and that allow inspection, testing, maintenance or repairs without necessitating the dismantling or removal of structural parts, cupboards, vegetation and the like are acceptable. These locations may be behind a gate if the installed meter is of the advanced type and has the communications ability enabled.

Contractors should discuss the meter location with the owner to ensure that future plans regarding vegetation and building additions have been considered and will not negatively impact the location. It is important to remind the owner that re-energising the installation following a network or meter fault may be delayed if access to the meter is in any way restricted. 2. Meter Heights

Meter Replacements

A meter enclosure shall be installed at a height that allows:

A meter replaced as part of an aged meter replacement program or tariff change does not invoke the requirements of 1 nor 2 above.

the top edge of the actual meter/s to be no higher than 2000mm, and the bottom edge of the meter no lower than 600mm.

Repairs and Alterations Replacement of the service conductor or consumers mains, switchboard or any other part of the electrical installation do not invoke the requirement to relocate the meter nor the enclosure to comply with the requirements of 1 nor 2 above. A meter enclosure that is relocated for any reason must comply with 1 and 2 above.

STATE OF THE STATES: TASMANIA LEADS AUSTRALIA… AGAIN For the third quarter in a row, Tasmania has been ranked the best economically performing state in Australia in CommSec’s latest State of the States report, released in October. The state outperformed the rest of the country on five economic indicators – relative population growth, equipment investment, housing finance, dwelling starts and retail trade – with equipment investment up 15.2 per cent over the previous decade, and with retail spending in Tasmania outstripping the mainland. Tasmania was one of just two jurisdictions to see higher employment over the year, with CommSec finding it experienced employment growth of 0.5 per cent compared with the September 2019 quarter, and recorded the highest rate of wage growth in Australia over the year to June 2020. It’s another sign Tasmania has been better than other states in shielding businesses and the economy from the worst of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and gives us a solid base from which to approach sustained economic recovery as 2021 approaches.


The specifications contained within the Electricity Consumption Metering Requirements (Tasmania) Code of Practice, are the minimum requirements mandated by the Department of Justice, Tasmania. Electricity retailers and their appointed Metering Providers may demand additional or more onerous requirements. Please confirm with the retailer appointed by the customer prior to commencing with work. For CBOS electrical news and updates visit

TASMANIA ANNOUNCES VISION FOR VOCATIONAL LEARNING AND VET TO 2030 The Tasmanian government, working with educational and training sectors, has announced a Vision for Vocational Learning and VET in Tasmanian schools to 2030. While this remains a high-level strategy, the Vision is a first step to recognising the importance of Vocational Learning and VET, and aims to provide pathways to apprenticeships or traineeships for year 11 and 12 students by enabling them to acquire skills sought by employers, through nationally registered training. As part of its announcement the government has added four schools to those offering this training to year 11 and 12 students, bringing the total number of participating schools to 47, and giving participating students opportunities to transition from the program into further education, training or employment.

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BRANCH UPDATE Pawel Podolski NECA VIC Executive Director Dean Spicer NECA VIC President

The last few months have been ripe with COVID-19 messaging, frustration and uncertainty. With ‘COVID fatigue’ having set in for many of us post the excitement of the last few months, this segment will attempt to focus more on the road ahead for our industry, instead of looking backwards. As we close out 2020, it’s probably timely to level set where we landed this year - both at a macro industry level, as well as across some of the key industry issues. It’s heartening to note some of the predictions from industry analysts in relation to how our industry is likely to respond to a recovery. Prior to COVID, we were already seeing a structural shift, with a clear rebalancing of demand between residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Obviously, there are a lot more unknowns post COVID, however, demand conditions in the Electrical Services industry are forecast to gradually strengthen - both in the short term, as well as over the next five years. Perhaps the projections are not at the optimistic levels predicted prior to the current economic recession, nevertheless, the outlook is mildly positive.


In terms of directional forecasts, demand for electrical installation and wiring work from the residential and high-rise building market is anticipated to rise, as the economy recovers from the impacts of COVID-19. Maintenance and repair work on existing buildings, plant and structures is also projected to support the industry’s expansion over the next five years. In Victoria, with the projected growth and fast-tracking of infrastructure projects, the industry should see a return to moderate growth over the short to medium term. So, despite the challenging year, the signs are more optimistic ahead. With this positivity comes the duty of ensuring we are all knowledgeable of what is happening across our industry and the broader business ecosystem, so that members can harness and maximise the potential of upcoming opportunities. Let’s recap some of the major events this year, many of which will carry on their relevance and impact into next year.

2020 saw the initiation of several regulatory reviews around the electrical licensing regime in Victoria. NECA has been very active in the many consultations and feedback channels, representing the common voice of our members. We take some pleasure at NECA in being able to bring positive influence and protect the position of electricians, enabling them to continue in current work practices, with the implementation of Line Worker Licensing. This was a solid advocacy outcome for many of our members as compared to the initial version of changes proposed, and demonstrates the power of collaborative negotiation and the weight that the collective voice of our members carry. There have also been conversations about REC registration changes in Victoria – again we’ve worked collaboratively with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that, while red tape is minimised for contractors, we maintain an industry structure that is supported by robust operational requirements. On a technical level, we are due for some Wiring Rules updates shortly. At time of writing, NECA is looking particularly closely into the consequences of several proposed changes, including changes to testing requirements and the increased requirements around compliance for switchboards. As we focus our attention on recovery and re-adjusting to what COVID-normal might look like, ensuring the business structure of our contracting operations are sound is going to be key. While not something we like to think about, recently we have seen some major changes to the insolvency laws, which have been overhauled and adopted almost a US-style model. It is worth understanding how that is going to work in practice, as for some, this could mean the difference between being able to navigate some short-term challenges and restructure back to success, vs having to make more drastic decisions. Of course, it’s also worth noting the introduction of regulation around Wage Theft, which will come into effect from 1 July 2021 and will introduce criminal

December 2020


penalties for employers who deliberately underpay or don’t pay their workers properly. It’s also important to understand the implication of the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter legislation, which came into effect on 1 July 2020. Certainly something to think about proactively when ensuring your business, large or small, has the appropriate health and safety systems, processes and SWMS in place. Recently we had the privilege of hosting the first NECA Virtual Conference and Tradeshow. As Dean profoundly said during his opening speech at the event, “there’s an old saying in business, every problem is really just an opportunity in

disguise”. We were glad to seize this opportunity to create something positive for the industry and bring us all together, despite the constraints this year put on all of us. Hopefully you enjoyed the day – either as a live and interactive event, or as part of on-demand replays of the keynote presentations. We at NECA certainly enjoyed engaging with many of you on the day at the NECA booth, as I know many of our Exhibitors did too. I would like to take the opportunity to thank you all for your incredible support of NECA over the year just gone. Your engagement with us, your questions, stories and feedback are what keeps us

ENERGY SAFE VICTORIA UPDATE As COVID-19 restrictions are eased across Victoria, I want to thank the industries ESV regulates for their resilience. It’s been a hard time, but I do believe that the willingness of many to persevere with the restrictions has paid off. Sadly, we have lost another electrician. He was killed while installing a cable to a power point. The electrical supply was not de-energised at the time. The electrician had dropped a stringline inside the wall cavity, and was attempting to hook the stringline so the cable could be pulled up to the switchboard. The hook used was metal and came into contact with an existing live electrical cable. It is believed the existing cable’s insulation was degraded, likely due to its age, and the metal hook came into contact with the live conductor. This is a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened. There is no reason for any electrical worker to be working live, no matter how experienced you are. Deenergise before you start work.

Responsibilities Now, unfortunately, since 2019 three people have lost their lives as a result of an electricity incident. All three incidents were avoidable. All Registered Electrical Contractors are responsible to ensure the licensed


workers you employ comply with the Electrical Safety Act, and produce compliant work in line with the appropriate technical standards and that they carry out all the required tests. As a licensed worker, when you certify your work on a certificate of electrical safety (COES), you legally acknowledge it is just that – compliant to the appropriate standard and you have carried out all the tests. To help industry understand their legal obligation, we have developed a series of draft brochures that break down the legal obligations. This covers the responsibilities of RECs, LEIWs, LEIs, and Supervised Electrical Workers.

going and drives our desire to continue to improve. We also know there is a lot of angst still out there as we recover and get our lives and businesses back on track as part of the recovery. Please remember, NECA Victoria has introduced an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for all members, their employees and their immediate family via Hunterlink. If anyone in your business or family needs support - or just a listening ear - please take advantage of this free service, which now forms part of your membership. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and safe New Year from the entire NECA Victoria Team.

I can’t emphasise enough the importance of ensuring supply is tested, isolated and locked out before carrying out any electrical work. If you’re not aware, ESV has been providing all third year apprentices with lock out kits to increase awareness. As an employer of electrical workers ensure that you: 

 

Have clear and robust procedures in place to identify electrical risks and eliminate or mitigate these. Make sure your workers understand the risks they face. Provide the appropriate training. Understand what is ‘effective supervision’ of electrical workers, and in particular, apprentices. ESV has defined effective supervision as: 

These draft brochures are available for consultation. You can download a copy at Have a look and give us your feedback. When they are finalised, pass on a copy to your workers so everybody understands their legal obligations. The main issue associated with each fatality was working in the vicinity of live electrical wiring and equipment.

being present at the site of the electrical work to the extent necessary to ensure that the work is being correctly performed and carried out in accordance with the Electricity Safety Act and any of the regulations relating to the installation and operation of electrical installations, and; being aware of the details of the electrical work being performed and giving detailed instructions and directions with respect to the electrical work.

Please stay safe.

Marnie Williams Director of Energy Safety & CEO Energy Safe Victoria

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2. Wage Theft

Employers should be cautious of the possibility of having to pay casual employees leave entitlements and exposing themselves to significant underpayment claims.

The Wage Theft Bill 2020 was passed this year and is in response to several high-profile underpayment cases. The Victorian government is seeking to deter employers from dishonestly underpaying their employees and as such has introduced criminal liability:  Fines of up to $991,320 for companies;  Up to 10 years’ imprisonment for individuals.

In the decision of Workpac Pty Ltd v Rossato this year, the Full Federal Court decided that a casual employee was a permanent employee, as they worked regular and systematic hours. Consequently, the employee was found to be entitled to receive both its casual loading and paid leave entitlements. For very specific reasons, the Full Federal Court did not allow Workpac to offset the 25% casual loading against monies owed for the leave entitlement. Action: Employers should review their employment contracts for longstanding casual employees and review the rosters currently in place.

The Wage Inspectorate Victoria, established by the Bill, will enforce the new laws. These new laws require dishonest intent, so an employer will not be found guilty of wage theft if they made an honest mistake or have exercised due diligence in paying wages and entitlements. Action: Employers should familarise themselves with the

Award and/or Enterprise Agreement that applies to the workplace, have in place procedures that effectively record hours worked and conduct regular audits. 3. Industrial Manslaughter The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (OHS Act) was amended to insert a criminal offence for workplace manslaughter – taking effect on 1 July 2020. The offence contains the following elements:  A body corporate or person can be charged, but they cannot be an employee or volunteer;  They must owe the victim a duty under the OHS Act;  They must breach the duty owed through negligent conduct;  The breach must cause the death of the victim; and

How can we help? In addition to securing workplace benefits in case of redundancy or termination, if your workers have a Protect severance balance, they may be eligible to claim a hardship payment if they’ve been stood down during COVID. Conditions apply, find out more via our website:

Protect employers should contact our Employer Relations Manager for account support Joyce Simitzis 0458 028 326

or Enterprise Agreement, the new National Minimum Wage (NMW) will be $753.80 per week – or $19.84 an hour. This equates to an increase of around $13 per week. All Modern Award rates of pay will also increase by 1.75% however, the Commission has set different start dates between July thisoffender year andisFebruary year.  If the a naturalnext person, they must have acted consciously and The Fair Work Commission president and voluntarily. minimum wage panel head, Justice Iain Ross, said threethe operative dates have If found guilty, following penalties been wouldchosen, apply: based on the impacts of the pandemic on$16.5 each million sector.for  Fines of up to companies; When does the increase apply?  Up to 20 years’ imprisonment for This is the first time the increases to the individuals. Modern Award wages will not be applied Action: Employers at the same time. should review their policies and procedures and ensure In considering the impact COVID-19, that they enforce safety of compliance the panel their felt that there were exceptional amongst employees. circumstances that justified the deferment of wage increases 4. the Insolvency laws for certain industries. Workers covered ‘GroupGovernment 1’ awards, In September, theby Federal such as frontline healthcare and social announced its intention to overhaul Australia’s workers, insolvency laws –and thechildcare largest assistance teachers changes and in 30other years.essential The changes, intended workers services, to commence 1 January affect received their on increase from2021, 1 July 2020. restructuring and insolvency, making it The Electrical, Electronic easier for a small businessand (incorporated Communications Contracting Award business with liabilities of less than $1 2010 and (Private Sector) Award million) toClerks engage in those processes. 2020 fall under “Group 2” awards. Some features ofby these changes include: Workers covered ‘Group 2’ awards, in  Business owners retain control their construction, manufacturing, andof other


companies while working with a Small industries, will receive the increase from Business Restructuring Practitioner 1 November 2020. (SBRP) to develop a Restructuring Plan; Those in ‘Group 3’, in accommodation/  Restructuring Plan voted on by food services, arts/recreation, aviation, creditors; retail and tourism, will receive the  If the Plan is accepted, the SBRP will increase on 1 February 2021. execute it;  If the Plan is not approved, the What about the allowances? company may choose to enter administration or access Allvoluntary the allowances will increase at thethe simplified liquidation pathway. same time the wage rates increase – on 1 November 2020. Action: Small businesses should familarise themselves the process Some allowances in thewith Awards are and, if required, take action soonerrate calculated based on the standard rather thaninlater. stipulated the Awards. As such, they will increase in accordance with the new 5. Calculation wage rates. of Personal/Carer’s Leave Under the Fair Work Act,allowances, an employee Other expense-related is entitled to 10 days of paid personal/ such as meal allowance and first aid carer’s leave in a year. The High Court in allowance, will increase by the relevant Mondalez v AMWU dealt with how much Consumer Price Index (CPI) figure. personal leave an employee who worked

three should 12-houryou shifts What do? per week was entitled to, with the union arguing If your employees by(10 onedays of the entitlement toare be covered 120 hours the x 12Awards hours).listed above, and you pay your employees Award minimum wages, The must High Court ruled against thatby 1.75% you increase these wages interpretation, finding it unrealistic on 1 November 2020. that two employees working the same number of hours over the year by would If your employees are covered an be entitled to Agreement different hours of personal Enterprise or individual leave simply contracts, because ofand howthey those employment are hours are slightly worked above (e.g. one worked three receiving Award minimum 12 houryou shifts in a week while other wages, should review yourthe wage and worked 7.2rates hourstoover 5 days in you a week). allowance ensure that are still at orclarified above the minimum rate The paying High Court that the of pay as of 1 November 2020. amount of personal leave accrued by anyou employee as If pay wellshould above be thecalculated Award rates, equivalent to 1/26will of the then the increase not employees’ affect you. ordinary hours of work for the year. NECA will release an updated wage Action: Iffor employers are unsure aboutand bulletin the Electrical, Electronic how personal leave should beAward accrued, Communications Contracting 2010 deducted and paid, please get in touch prior to 1 November 2020. with the Workplace Relations team.

Saraswathy Varatharajullu Workplace Relations Advisor, NECA Victoria 1300 300 031

Disclaimer: This summary is a guide only and is not legal advice.

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GROWING UP IN GEELONG, PLAYING CRICKET AND BASEBALL, AND DELIVERING NEWSPAPERS ON HIS PUSH BIKE, GORDON MCKAY NEVER INTENDED TO BECOME AN ELECTRICIAN. HE WAS GOING TO BE A FARMER. has been keeping up with changes in technology and adapting those changes to their many industrial clients. The electrical industry offers an extraordinary variety of work, and even if you specialise, the constant technical upgrades and speed of the change is astronomical. And it’s not just technology that provides the challenges. To grow a business in the modern world, you need to embrace continual improvement of business systems and processes as well. Attention to those areas allowed Gordon McKay Electrical to become quality certified, which gave the company the opportunity to work for many blue chip national and international companies and government authorities.

Pictured: Gavin and Gordon McKay

But fate – and his mother – had other ideas. Through a friend, she knew that EMG Electrical was looking for an apprentice and at her ‘strong recommendation’ (as he describes it) 16 year-old Gordon started his apprenticeship there in 1944. It seems his mother was on to something; because just five years after finishing that apprenticeship, Gordon partnered with a friend to start his first electrical business, McKay and Gray. Two years later, in 1955, his partner moved to Melbourne and the business became Gordon McKay Electrical. That business has now been operating for 67 years and is one of the largest privately owned electrical businesses in Victoria. Although he didn’t end up driving a tractor himself, farming was still an important part of Gordon’s early business life. From 1953 and right through the 60’s, he spent a lot of his working life electrifying the farming district around Geelong, wiring over 400 farms. By the end of the sixties, he was ready for a new direction. At an industry conference in 1970, he was intrigued by one of the speakers, who suggested



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the future of the electrical industry was in providing technical expertise to the ever-increasing manufacturing and industrial sectors. Gordon didn’t need telling twice, and from that time on, his business specialised in the technical and industrial side of the industry.

A new generation joins the firm In 1972, upon finishing school, Gordon’s son Gavin also took parental advice (although in his case, it was his Dad giving the ‘recommendation’) and started an electrical apprenticeship. After completing his apprenticeship, Gavin went on to a number of different roles in the company including electrician, bookkeeper, service manager and eventually managing director when Gordon retired in 1993 – so it seems the advice was good for him, too!

Change and prosper Looking back over more than six decades of operation, Gordon and Gavin say that the most challenging, but also most rewarding, aspect of the business

This was a very important strategic decision for the business. By continuing to respond to a changing industry and business environment, the business has been able to evolve from humble beginnings in Gordon’s back yard, to peaking at over 220 employees with offices in Geelong and Melbourne. The company has been very fortunate to be recognised by its peers within and outside the industry, appearing regularly in the NECA Excellence Awards (among others), at both state and national level, from the 90’s to the present everybody associated with the company is very proud of these awards.

Building blocks of success Gordon and Gavin both believe that one of the keys to the business’s success and longevity is their employees. Many of their employees started in the business as apprentices and have gone on to work with them for 20 to 45 years, becoming senior managers or supervisors over their journey with the company. Their service and loyalty over long periods of time is integral to the reputation and success of the business.

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The McKay’s are also very proud of the number of apprentices who have been given an opportunity to develop careers in the industry while working for their company. New apprentices are employed every year, and at various times the company has been recognised as one of the largest privately owned employers of apprentices in the industry. The other key to the company’s success is its very loyal and trusted client base. Many clients have been with the company for over 40 years. From the beginning, most of the company’s work has come through word of mouth and repeat business and their strong reputation in the industry. The McKay’s credit this loyalty and reputation partly to the quality of their employees and work, but also to having an open, transparent, relationship with clients, based on a strong set of values and principles. They pride themselves on having an open-door policy and owners and senior managers have always been available for both clients and employees.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help Both Gordon and Gavin are big believers in the value of mentors. When Gordon started out in 1953, he was only 25, and he relied on a small group of trusted advisors who were almost father

Pictured: A young Gordon McKay

figures. As the business grew, he drew on the skills of his next-door neighbour, a well-known Geelong accountant, as well as other business owners for guidance. He also used his experience as a successful sports captain and coach to guide his management of his business. After Gordon retired in 1993 and Gavin took over as Managing Director, he sourced his own mentors, including business advisors and accountants from Melbourne. Then, as the business grew further he employed a financial controller and put in place an advisory board made up of senior management and external business advisors. These decisions assisted in developing and growing the business and realising its potential, by developing and implementing a strategic plan. In 1999, with a number of industries closing in Geelong and the opening of Western Ring Road, Gavin decided to open a Melbourne division. This started with one site hut and a Vic Roads traffic signal contract for the Western Suburbs. The Melbourne division is now an integral part of the company, operating from its own workshop facilities, employing approximately 80 people and servicing many blue chip national and international companies. Some of that success is due to seeking advice when it was needed.

Rising to the occasion Some of the big challenges the business has had to face are the decline in major manufacturing industry in the Geelong area, compliance costs at local, state and federal government levels and cash flow to support a developing and growing business. One of the ways it has coped is by being open to expanding into new areas of opportunity. A number of major industries and clients have come and gone over the life of the business but when one door closes, another one opens. Gordon has always believed that a business should not have all its eggs in one basket. One example of this approach is the caravan business. During the 60s to the 80s many caravan parks sprang up in the Geelong area and Gordon responded by becoming known as the caravan

park specialist. Not satisfied with just providing a service, Gordon was one of the first people to develop a caravan power outlet. These units were called KMAC Power Outlets and were sold all over Australia. The division was eventually sold to one of the employees and continues to trade under this name today. Other examples of add-on services were the purchase of a motor rewind business in the 1980s, manufacturing control panels and switchboards, being a distributor and reseller for Siemens and Telemecanique control gear and manufacturing and selling engraved labels and signs. These services enabled the company to provide a complete industrial electrical service and contributed to gaining and keeping major industrial customers.

Passing the baton The most important piece of advice Gordon and Gavin have received in business, and which they would pass onto anyone starting out, is to always operate with integrity and respect and to be open and honest at all times with all parties, including clients, employees and suppliers. They credit this approach with helping their business to stay nimble, flexible and responsive – as well as helping them to sleep at night! Gordon and Gavin both played a lot of team sport and like to extend those inclusive team principles through to the business. They both believe that giving employees the opportunity to grow and develop with the business helps the business as much as it does the employee. The attitude also extends to being a contributing member of the community. Their contribution was recognised when they received the 2005 Geelong Community Business Award and they are proud of being involved in the Relay for Life for the Cancer Council and was the first company to be awarded the Spirit of the Relay Award in 2010. As one chapter closes on the 67 year history of the company and the McKay family, another chapter has started with Gordon McKay being sold to the Citywide Group, a Melbourne based company, who will maintain the business name and employment for all employees.

To have your inspirational story told, reach out via email to Akeera Dharmapala at


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BRANCH UPDATE Carl Copeland NECA WA Branch Secretary

Although this legislation hasPLEASING yet to pass Tragic AccidentMARKET at Curtin University ALTHOUGH CONDITIONS REMAIN DIFFICULT, IT IS through Parliament, it has wide-ranging Our deepest sympathies go out to IN THE RESIDENTIAL TO HEAR FROM MEMBERS THAT THE support becauseSECTOR it gives subcontractors the families, friends and colleagues increased certainty around their rights VARIOUS GOVERNMENT STIMULUS PACKAGES AIMED AT INCREASING impacted by the recent terrible accident to be paid and increases the speed with THE CONSTRUCTION NEW one HOMESwhich IS HAVING A POSITIVE EFFECT. at Curtin University, whereOF tragically payments must be made. worker was killed and two others were seriously injured.


Members in thishighlights sector expect considerable This incident howaimportant increase in work the near it is to ensure theinhealth andfuture. well-being of employers and employees in their The strong prices for gold and iron ore in work environment. Often people can be particular have ensured that members so busy concentrating on productivity working in the resource sector are also that safety may not get the constant enjoying strong demand for electrical work. attention it requires. NECA Technical is taking as many, if not Although ensuring the safety of staff more, calls than it was before COVID, is something that is constantly at which indicates there are still lots of the forefront of employers’ minds, an members performing work. accident like the one at Curtin gives business cause to still reflect on the There is obviously a long wayvital to go in importance of recovery workplace safety. terms of a full but it does seem that Western Australia is better placed Ensuring that a business has a safety than other states at present. culture requires more than simply having procedures and measuring results. It is Industrial Manslaughter about the attitudes, beliefs and values Legislation that the entire company shares. Sometimes are critical pieces Maintainingthere a culture of safety in theof legislation that industry has to fight workplace has many additional benefits, tooth and nail to prevent; the Western from boosting employee morale to the Australian Government’s proposed avoidance of potentially costly litigation. industrial manslaughter legislation is Still, too many businesses continue such a law. to focus on reactive safety programs, which only initiate change after an It is vital that all contractors familiarise accident occurs. The legislation tragic death and themselves with this because serious injuries that occurredaccidents. at Curtin it will criminalise workplace University highlightproposed that reactive change The Government’s industrial is too late. Workplace safety needs to be manslaughter law exposes business a prioritytofor every owners upeveryone, to 10 years in jailday. and a $2.5million fine if an accident occurs on Security of Payment Update your worksite – evenLegislation if you haven’t been reckless or negligent. Another piece of important legislation before the Parliament the Buildingthe It is vital that membersisunderstand and Construction Industry (Security of risks they could face under the worst parts Payment) Bill30B) 2020. (e.g. Section of the Western Australian Government’s proposed Workplace Health I have touched on this 30B legislation in previous & Safety Bill. Section is unique to WA. articles but it is important that members It is not found in any other state or territory. are aware of the key aspects of this bill.

Should the legislation pass, and we have no reason to believe that it will not, it NECA has met with the Minister for Industrial will create a process by which, within 20 Relations, Bill Johnston, and personally days of sending a client an expressed our concerns to invoice, him. We the were subcontractor will know if they will be paid particularly adamant that the legislation in full,contain be paiddefences on a payment must that schedule, protect or if they are in whose a payment dispute. contractors safety practices meet the legislative requirements. If a subcontractor has not had their invoice acknowledged writing with It is ridiculous to have ainsituation where one of these responses within 20 days a business owner has implemented of sending it, thethat invoice will be deemed safety practices ensure compliance to have been be accepted by the head with all of their WHS obligations and yet contractor and the subcontractor will be can still be subjected to prosecution. able to obtain a rapid adjudication ruling NECA has lobbied thecontractor McGowan to pay compelling the head government, well as the Liberal will the invoice inas full. Head contractors Opposition cross-bench members no longer beand able to use “silence” as a of Parliament, as part of a coalition of more tactic to delay or dispute payment. than twenty other industry associations One other positivethis change with this who also oppose legislation. legislation is that if a contractor is Idisputing encourage Western Australian anevery invoice, they must outline business owner and director to read the all of their reasons in their initial joint submission to government that response. No longer will contractors NECA WA has made along with the other be able to add a never-ending list of industry associations. The submission, reasons for non-payment as the dispute which is on NECA WA’s website, is more drags on, which as many contractors will than 20 pages long but it is critical know, is a common tactic used to delay that you understand the potential or avoid payment. implications for you, your business, your co-workers and discussed your family. I have previously the legislation’s other major initiative, the creation of Members can be assured that NECA WA trust accounts for Retention Payments. will continue to fiercely oppose this legislation Whilst thereinisits a current backlogform. of legislation in Parliament due to the COVID-19 delays,

Security of Payments Legislation we remain hopeful that this legislation will pass before the end of the year. The State Government has also recently released its long-awaited draft Security Cross border recognition of of Payments legislation. This is vital electrical legislationlicences for NECA members and for subcontractors inNECA general. I am representing in meetings with the Federal Government’s Deregulation

SEPTEMBER December 2020


Taskforce. The taskforce was set up to review two major issues. 1. The deregulation of industry NECA’s position is that all classes of electrical licences enhance safety for both consumers and industry. We do not and will not, support the deregulation of our industry and the abolition of licences. Our position to government is that this issue should not be included in future discussions. 2. Occupational mobility and crossborder recognition Whilst NECA supports the cross-border recognition of electrical contractors and electrical workers, state governments need to ensure that the pathways to obtain these licences are consistent across the country. Licence shopping will become an issue until there is parity of licensing training. I expect that the electrical workers licence will be the easiest to address, as every state insists on the same qualification and apprenticeship pathway to achieving a licence, except for NSW. NSW allows a governmentfunded institutional training pathway (i.e. classroom only) outside of a traditional apprenticeship. NECA is lobbying to have this pathway stopped. Electrical fitters and training licences will be a problem, as not every state has these licences. This would be a barrier to these workers seeking to work across jurisdictions.

Our internal statistics indicate that Gerry has answered more than 20,000 technical calls (seriously!) in his 5 years at NECA. Anyone who has spoken to Gerry would have experienced his passion for looking after the members and providing them with accurate information on every single one of those calls. The popularity of the Tech Hotline is due in no small part to Gerry’s dedication and his consistent efforts in going above and beyond to ensure that members’ queries are answered promptly and correctly. Gerry’s successor is Del Chinotto - many members will know Del, as he has been involved in the industry for many years. He is a very experienced electrical contractor with a particular knowledge of communications. Communications is a skillset that the technical team has lacked in the past, so he is a very welcome addition to the team.

in School (PAiS) – generating a 233% increase in our normal numbers. Throw in COVID-19, and our team went into overdrive. In a two-week shutdown window, CET pivoted to get our instructor-led webinar delivery platform up and running. With work experience opportunities a real issue during the height of the pandemic, we lobbied the Department of Training and Workforce Development to make reasonable adjustments to the vital work experience component, and they came to the party. Adding in a safety net for the students who couldn’t secure a placement, we offered incampus work experience. Thankfully most of the students didn’t end up needing that option and it was great to see a number of certificates going out the door to eager future apprentices. We wish them well in their electrical futures.

Membership Numbers NECA WA membership numbers remain strong, with more than 1,400 contractors being supported by our Association. This number has remained consistent despite the effects of COVID-19. I would like to sincerely thank members for their continued engagement and I trust that the high level of member retention is a reflection of the quality of the services we provide and the strength of our advocacy on your behalf. College of Electrical Training (CET)

Electrical Group Training (EGT) EGT has been busy recruiting and passing on the federal government COVID-19 recovery funding. From July to October, EGT have recruited almost 60 new apprentices and have passed on around $3.2M in JobKeeper funding, which is keeping our 445 apprentices gainfully employed. EGT would like to thank our loyal host employers for their support through this difficult time.

CET responded to the call for additional training opportunities in the Pre App

NECA does not support the transitioning of Restricted Electrical Licences, as these are issued for specific purposes in each state. Gerry Jones’ retirement Gerry Jones has recently resigned from his role as the stalwart of the Technical Hotline. Some members may be aware that Gerry has had some health issues recently, which unfortunately are not improving as quickly as he would like. As a result of medical advice and urgings from his family, Gerry has decided to put away his AS/NZS 3000 Rule Book and concentrate on his recovery.


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We recently re-commenced our Industry Nights following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions. Following a successful event in Busselton, we held two events in the Perth metro area; one in Joondalup and one in Cockburn. There were more than 100 registrations for each event. This is a fantastic level of member engagement, which we hope to continue when our industry events recommence in February 2021. In the meantime, a video of our recent presentation in Bunbury is available on our website for members who haven’t been able to attend one of the Industry Nights. The video contains the presentation given by Western Power Inspector, Gavin Hodge.


Visit the Member Area to view the latest Industry Night video –

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NECA LEGAL (WA) RECENTLY CELEBRATED ITS 10TH ANNIVERSARY. MEMBERS CONTINUALLY INDICATE THAT HAVING ACCESS TO A PROFESSIONAL LEGAL SERVICE IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE SERVICES THAT NECA WA OFFERS TO THEIR BUSINESSES. NECA Legal (WA) recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary. Members continually indicate that having access to a professional legal service is one of the most important and valuable services that NECA WA offers to their businesses.

NECA Legal (WA) can assist employers with performance management and disciplinary processes and keep them abreast of the vital developments in Workplace Relations law and employer obligations in general.

NECA WA members have exclusive access to free generalist legal advice (limited to telephone advice, or a free 30-minute consultation).The fee-forservice rates are substantially reduced for members of NECA WA, compared to private practice charge-out rates.

NECA Legal (WA) has represented many electrical contractors in various jurisdictions such as the Fair Work Commission, the WA Industrial Relations Commission (WAIRC), the Industrial Magistrates Court, the Federal Circuit and the Federal Court; in relation to employment matters such as unfair or unlawful dismissal applications, underpayment of wages claims, Union ‘right of entry’ cases and accusations of adverse action and discrimination.

Over the past 10 years, our records indicate that NECA Legal has provided 8,560 hours of free legal advice to members. If you conservatively value that at the $500 an hour a private practice lawyer would charge, that equates to more than $4,000,000 in free legal advice. NECA Legal (WA) provides those four million hours of legal advice and assistance, including representation to NECA WA members across a wide range of areas including:

Employment & Industrial Relations Over the last 10 years, NECA Legal (WA) has assisted with the approval of more than 130 Enterprise Agreements and prepared more than 300 Employment Contracts. In a constantly changing Industrial Relations system, NECA Legal (WA) can review and draft employment contracts, as well as provide advice and assistance in enterprise bargaining and the drafting and approval of Enterprise Agreements by the Fair Work Commission. During the uncertainty experienced by business due to COVID-19, NECA Legal (WA) provided hundreds of members with advice and representation in relation to redundancy or termination of employment for performance issues or misconduct.


No business wants to end up in a court or tribunal - it’s very stressful and generally expensive. However, recently a number of members have been required to go to court, to defend themselves in disputes with former staff. Two of these most recent applications involved an unfair dismissal application in the Fair Work Commission and an alleged underpayment claim in the WAIRC. Both were successfully opposed by NECA Legal (WA) and dismissed.

Commercial Contracts, Payment Disputes & Debt Collection The NECA Legal (WA) scope of service includes drafting commercial contracts for services and reviewing commercial terms and conditions of contracts relevant to the industry. If there is one thing we have learnt over the past 10 years, it is that unfortunately many members don’t thoroughly read contracts before signing them. As a result, we have had to advise many members who have found themselves in very difficult situations because they have not, or cannot, comply with the contractual terms and conditions they have signed up to – resulting in serious financial consequences for their business. I would urge all members to have their contracts reviewed before they sign them, so they can make an informed decision on the terms and conditions that they are agreeing to.

Building and Energy Prosecutions

One of the most widely used of NECA Legal (WA)’s services is Debt Collection. NECA WA members have exclusive access to free assistance with debt collection up to the value of $10,000. This free service includes the issuing of Letters of Demand to debtors.

NECA Legal (WA) also provides legal advice with regulator interviews and representation in prosecutions for breaches of Electricity Licensing Regulations.

In the last 5 years alone, NECA Legal (WA) collected more than $3.4 million of outstanding NECA WA member debts, at little or no cost to those members.

These prosecutions have been for matters such as failure to test or complete work prior to submitting a Notice of Competition, failure to properly supervise apprentices correctly and failing to install a MEM.

NECA Legal (WA) also provides advice in relation to payment disputes and assistance with the preparation of applications for adjudication of payments disputes.

Johnny Brits Legal Practice Director NECA Legal (WA)

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CONTRIBUTING TO THE LOCAL COMMUNITY OVER THEIR SIX YEARS OF OPERATION, GEOGRAPHE ELECTRICAL AND COMMUNICATIONS HAS GAINED A REPUTATION FOR CONTRIBUTING TO PROJECTS IN WA’S SOUTH-WEST. THEIR RECENT WORK ON THE NEW SHELTER BREWING COMPANY HAS CEMENTED THEIR PLACE WITHIN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY. Located on the Busselton foreshore, opposite the iconic jetty, the Shelter Brewing Company is a microbrewery that also offers a restaurant, bar, function centre and takeaway café. It has been designed and built based on a strong community ethos, aiming to engage with locals and build community capacity. NECA WA was pleased to interview Paul Scott, owner of Geographe Electrical and Communications, to gain his insight into this landmark South-West project. What was Geographe Electrical and Communications’ role? We were on site from start to finish. We provided all electrical, lighting and communications services, including the prewiring for the security and audio systems. We were fortunate because the open design gave us a lot of freedom to work



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out how to make things work electrically and set things up the way we needed to. This flexibility was good for our team, as it gave them the chance to be creative, identify efficiencies and find better ways of working.

They aren’t usually used in hospitality settings, and at six metres in diameter, the fans are a key statement piece.

Once the venue opens, we will be pleased to provide ongoing maintenance and servicing.

This was a new development for the Busselton foreshore. The original concept was floated in 2014 and since then, there’s been a lot of planning between the owners and the City of Busselton.

Can you share some of the project’s unusual features? The development has different operational functions. It’s a microbrewery, which is streamlined and industrial, but the hospitality services have a warm, relaxed feel. In some places the two approaches have been brought together. For example, they’ve installed two industrial fans, called Big Ass Fans, in each gable.

What sort of challenges did you overcome?

Initially, the main challenge for us was understanding what look the builder and architects were going for. The combination of clean industrial and warm hospitality required different approaches. In some cases, we installed our wiring and equipment so that it looked like we’d never been there. In other places, our work was on display and integrated as part of the brewery’s architecture. We also needed

December 2020


compact so that all aspects of the brewery could fit together. Working through COVID-19 has also been a challenge. It was an environment that none of us had dealt with before. The builder managed this process well and set up segregated working areas where possible, but it was hard and slowed the work down. We kept the same guys on site and didn’t mix the brewery team with our other project teams. This was important not just for our people, but for their families too. What are some of the project’s success factors?

to achieve a balance between the ideal look and what was practical to install, to ensure everything met standards and requirements.

Our team was our most important factor. We have a strong culture within the business and our team’s commitment and effort makes all the difference. They took on the challenge and worked hard to make a solid contribution. We had excellent project management with

,500+ TRAINING 6,500+ RY YEAR PEOPLE EVERY YEAR Another challenge was the size of the site. There wasn’t any spare room – everything had to fit into a small space and busy location. The design was kept

Dave Devenish. Our Site Supervisor, Bayne Douthie, was well organised and lead from the front, ensuring the project ran as smoothly as possible. Another positive was our electrical team working as part of the broader project team with other trades. The owners could have given the work to Perthbased contractors, but chose quality local contractors. This was good for the project; not only because everyone knew one another but because everyone worked well together as a single team. It built the community feel and a strong sense of ownership. Do you have any final thoughts to share? This project wasn’t just about tourism, it was about locals enjoying the town they grew up in. It was great to be part of something that will continue to bring the community together.

To have your inspirational story told, reach out via email to Claire Gerber at

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network connection. Our assessment is based on the total energy usage (consumption and generation) of the connection. Sometimes a connection is shared by multiple customers; for example in stratas, shopping centres and commercial tenancies.

Shared connections solar application notice One in three homes in Western Australia now has solar and this number is continuing to rise. To ensure each homeowner’s solar system is viable in the long term, we need to approve all solar system installations and upgrades before they go ahead. As of 28 October, the application form will now automatically identify

if a connection is shared and if so, it will need an additional technical assessment.

Each connection has a maximum amount of energy it can safely carry, and our assessment is to make sure it can accommodate any additional solar energy that is being added to the network. We want everyone to have a safe and reliable connection, now and in the future, so it’s important that applications are submitted correctly.

The way we assess each solar system application depends on the total kVA of all systems attached to the relevant

See the solar connection FAQs on Western Power’s application page for more information.

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ENERGISED ELECTRICAL INSTALLATIONS WORKING ON OR NEAR ENERGISED ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT (LIVE WORK) IS AN UNSAFE PRACTICE AND TOO FREQUENTLY RESULTS IN BURNS, SHOCKS, SERIOUS ACCIDENTS AND FATALITIES FOR ELECTRICIANS AND OTHER WORKERS. THIS IS CLEARLY UNACCEPTABLE. Compliance obligations for licensed electrical workers The Electricity (Licensing) Amendment Regulations (No. 2), published in November 2017, do not permit electrical work to be performed on or near an exposed energised part of an electrical installation that can be de-energised. Work on energised parts of installation may occur in accordance with Regulation 55 of the Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991. The change to regulations applied from 14 May 2018. Regulation 55 limits performing work on or near live electrical equipment to circumstances only where: 

it is necessary for the work to be carried out effectively; the health and safety of one or more persons would be otherwise put in imminent and significant danger; or it is necessary in order to test, measure the performance of, or detect or locate faults or defects in, the part of the installation.


the risks can be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable; and the work can be carried out safely.

Building and Energy has developed a Code of Practice for persons working on or near energised electrical installations to assist electrical workers to comply with the new regulations. NOTE: This Code of Practice replaced the document “Code of Practice – Safe Low Voltage Work Practices by Electricians” published by the Director of Energy Safety in 2008.

In particular, there are a number of possible electrical hazards in roof spaces that are a danger to any person, (workers or occupier), when entering a roof space. These hazards include: 

exposed live electrical conductors or terminals; unenclosed joints in conductors (i.e. no junction boxes); substandard or deteriorated wiring (often associated with older buildings); unused wiring left in the roof space that has not been disconnected from the switchboard; past electrical work not performed by a competent person which could be substandard and unsafe; live consumers mains even when the main switch is off and the SPD is removed; solar array DC and service AC cabling carrying significant DC voltage; damaged cables (e.g. chewed by rodents); and metallised thermal insulation which may be energised due to poor installation practices.

The Occupational Safety and Health Amendment Regulations, published in November 2017, do not permit work to be performed on or near an exposed energised part of an electrical installation, unless: 

generally, the relevant part of the electrical installation is de-energised and tested by a competent person (Regulation 3.59A); or where working in a roof space, it is necessary to energise an appliance or item of equipment (such as a gas appliance or air conditioner) for the purpose of testing or commissioning (Regulation 3.59B).

The changes to the OSH regulations applied from 14 May 2018. Occupational Safety and Health Amendment Regulations 2017 A guidance note for working in roof spaces was prepared by WorkSafe and issued by the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984. This guidance note applies to all employers of workers and workers performing work for reward, in the roof spaces of buildings constructed or used as residential buildings. It applies to all types of work requiring access to the roof space such as carpentry, plumbing, pest control, installation of ceiling insulation, solar panels, air conditioning systems, security systems and to builders in general. It also applies to electrical work. Guidance note – Working in roof spaces Letter to electricity customers regarding ban on live work Building and Energy prepared a letter signed by the Director of EnergySafety to inform electricity customers about the new laws, which strictly limit work on or near energised electrical equipment to ‘exceptional circumstances.’ Electrical contractors and electricians are encouraged to provide a copy of this letter to their customers when quoting and performing electrical work.

Compliance obligations for other workers Persons performing any work in premises with an electricity supply must be aware of the potential significant hazards associated with live electrical equipment.


Sue Gismondi OSH Consultant (Member Services) ECA WA

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TRANSPORTABLE STRUCTURES WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SUBMITTING THE NOTICE OF COMPLETION ON A TRANSPORTABLE STRUCTURE – THE CONTRACTOR AT THE MANUFACTURER’S YARD, OR THE CONTRACTOR MAKING THE FINAL CONNECTION? Regulation 52BA of the Western Australian Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991 states that Preliminary Notices, Notices of Completion and Electrical Safety Certificates are not required if the transportable structure is being constructed (at its place of manufacture) and won’t be connected to a supply of electricity at this construction site. However, where electrical installing work is carried out on a transportable structure at the site where it is intended to be connected to the electricity supply, the regulations pertaining to notices submitted and Safety Certificates apply.

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This then raises the question of what the obligations are on the electrical contractor wiring the transportable in the yard, and then on the contractor connecting the transportable on site.

This contractor must do their own verification and tests at the time of connection and ascertain that the total installation connected to supply complies with requirements.

structure that can be moved from a site to another site and on which notifiable work may be carried out, including a caravan.

1. The contractor wiring the transportable in the yard must ensure that all work undertaken complies with the relevant wiring standards and is tested to ensure compliance.

They should not rely solely on test sheets or documentation provided by the manufacturer and should undertake checks and tests to ensure that the test results obtained indicate a safe connection to supply and that fittings/ apparatus have not been damaged or become loose during transit. Once again, proper testing ensures that no issues will arise at a later date for a non-compliant installation, particularly when other trades are working at the site and the possibility of screws penetrating electrical wiring exists prior to connection.

NECA recommends that the electrical contractor wiring the transportable in the yard, as well as undertaking and maintaining comprehensive test records, also inserts a test certificate at the switchboard, indicating who undertook the tests, when the tests were completed and certifying that the wiring complied at the time.

While regulation 52BA alleviates the need for them to submit notices and issue a safety certificate for the work undertaken, the contractor must ensure full compliance by completing and maintaining comprehensive testing records, which prove they have shown due diligence in performing their work. These should be available for audit or upon request, particularly if requested by the onsite contractor connecting the unit to supply.

For the purpose of this regulation a ‘Transportable structure’ is defined as a

2. The on-site electrical contractor connecting the transportable to supply does not have the exemption for submitting notices to the relevant Network Operator and issuing a Safety Certificate to the owner/customer.

NECA WA recommendations

The onsite electrical contractor should note on their submitted paperwork that the internal wiring was completed by others, however tests and possible visual checks undertaken confirm that the installation was safe to be connected to supply.

Malcolm Scott Technical Services Advisor ECA WA

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ALL THE RIGHT SIGNALS PROLIFERATION OF WIFI-ENABLED TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE HOME HAS PUSHED MANY HOME WIFI SET-UPS TO THEIR LIMIT. The expectation of superior network coverage that enables work from home and play, has led many frustrated homeowners to ‘DIY’ solutions, including the use of WiFi extenders, that are not always effective, leading to unnecessary frustration. This is where registered cablers can help. The installation of a quality cabling solution undoubtably offers the fastest and most reliable internet connection in a

Outdoor Alfresco

No Signal

Strong Signal


home. However, WiFi is still an important component needed to provide a wireless signal to laptops, tablets, smart phones and other portable devices. When implemented effectively, WiFi offers the flexibility to roam or to position devices in areas which are not easily cabled, while still maintaining a high access speed. Most houses however do not have an effective wireless setup. Generally speaking, these houses are serviced by a single access point or modem (see Figure 1), which has been set up wherever the cable carrying the internet happens to enter the house. The WiFi signal loses its strength the further away you are situated from the modem, resulting in poor WiFi in certain areas of the home. Some users may attempt to reposition the router and extend cable to that location. While this may be highly effective in a small house, this is not practical in a larger family home.

Poor Signal

Outdoor Alfresco

Figure 1

WiFi extenders and mesh networks are increasingly being used by many people to

extend their WiFi coverage in larger homes. They can be complex for end users to configure and require correct placement in order to make a marked difference.

Outdoor Alfresco

Extended Poor Signal

Strong Signal

Wireless Extender Router

Poor Signal

Outdoor Alfresco

Figure 2

In many cases, the end user will set up a single extender to connect wirelessly to the modem, then place the extender inside the room that has poor WiFi to begin with. The end result is that the extender itself will have a poor connection back to the modem (see Figure 2). In this example, there is no increase in the speed and reliability of the WiFi in the problem area, the extender simply broadcasts the poor source signal into more rooms of the house. In addition to this, using WiFi extenders with WiFi backhaul requires the extender to use some of the WiFi capacity to communicate with the modem, in many cases halving the potential speed and causing latency. When one wireless extender is positioned correctly it can amplify a strong signal. However, in some family homes this may not be adequate to provide a strong signal to the whole house and there could still be some WiFi deadspots. An extra wireless extender may be added, but this method can only be effective if they are both placed in optimum positions.



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December 2020


Engaging a registered cabler An even better approach is for the end user to engage a registered cabler (see Figure 3) to run a cabled backhaul between the modem and the wireless extender. This will provide the extender with a stronger, more stable ethernet connection, allowing it to extend a higher quality wireless connection across all areas of the house. Running cabling to the extender takes advantage of the full capacity of the internet connection at the property. The wireless extender can be positioned further away from the router (i.e: in the middle of the ‘poor signal’ zone) and in many cases will increase the WiFi coverage area using fewer extender units. Getting wiring to the optimal position after the house has been built has its challenges, but there are many ways to conceal the cabling so it’s out of sight, out of mind.

Outdoor Alfresco

Figure 4 shows the HD in a central location, however it could reside in a cupboard or the garage. Strong Signal Wireless Extender



Outdoor Alfresco HD WAP

Figure 3


As you can see, there are ways to leverage equipment, such as wireless extenders, in conjunction with cabling to provide a stronger home network. You’ll need to consider the layout and size of the home, and the needs of the customer, as every situation is unique. For some homes a strong WiFi signal may be required for wireless speakers on a balcony or a smart TV located in an outdoor alfresco. One option is to set up a Home Distributor (HD) with wiring (Cat 5 or 6) going to different locations in the home where there are Wireless Access Points (WAP) positioned to provide coverage to outdoor areas such as a patio or backyard for entertaining. For larger houses the cabling is star wired and the broadband modem or NTD (network termination device) could be located there also (see Figure 4).


Outdoor Alfresco

Figure 4

A setup like this will ideally consist of:  

8x RJ45 outlets (also known as “8P8C” for those who read standards)

In Figure 4, the example uses four WAP points. In most cases you will find that two or three should be sufficient. Homes that are Smart Wired offer significant advantages, in that there is flexibility to move the WAP for optimum performance.

Outdoor Alfresco

Cabled Connection


speeds of up to 10 Gbps, versus 100 Mbps for Cat 5), and

1x router 4x additional wireless extenders, mesh units or routers configured to be used as wireless access points 1x roll of Cat 6 cable (note: it’s worth going straight to Cat 6, as this will provide a level of futureproofing, supporting massive data transfer

The cheaper option for WAPs is wireless extenders but for a little more money you can deploy a mesh network, which allows all WAPs to communicate with each other intelligently. When moving around the home your devices will automatically connect to the WAP that provides the best performance. As you can see, there are many opportunities for cablers to set up and optimise WiFi networks. Setting up wireless access point with an ethernet backhaul is well worth the effort. It will provide a robust, reliable backbone to support an effective home network for today’s “connected family”.

Ian Millner NECA Training (02) 9188 4424

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REVISIONS THEinto CUSTOMER STANDARDS INCLUDE FORare THE Registration and 360 hours forSAFEGUARDS Open Thinking aboutTO a move data and CABLING What theDISTRIBUTION consequences ofOF doing cabling work without being registered? communications as a way to diversify your Registration. Holding an electrical HAZARDOUS VOLTAGES OVER COMMUNICATIONS CABLING – AN IMPORTANT STEP, GIVEN THE GROWING contracting business? Here are a few critical licence, Security licence or enAbleTM The ACMA has POWER a range of options available TREND TOWARD COMMUNICATIONS CABLES BEING USED TO CARRY ELECTRICAL – AS WELL ASto questions to ask before you get started. NBN CardALSO will suffice. enforce compliance. These include: formal

CATERING FOR GROWTH OF CONNECTED DEVICES IN AUSTRALIAN AND BUSINESSES. warnings;HOMES non-compliance notices to the Am I registered to THE do theEXPLOSIVE work? Once I’ve completed the training, who do telecommunications carrier, which may I register with? In Australia, all cabling work, including result in disconnection from the network; telephone, data, fire and security alarm telecommunications infringement notices There are aofnumber of Cabling AS/CS S008:2020 Requirements for digital signage, building management backbone the cabling industry in system cabling, that connects with the (on-the-spot $2,040); and if the Registrars authorised by the Australian Customer Cabling Products applies to controllers fine and of sensors; Australia for several decades. telecommunications network must be matter is serious enough, taking court Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) cabling products (including cable and  new requirements to assist cablers to performed by a registered cabler, or under action, which may result in a conviction The updated Standards include new and related customer equipment) intended for in Australia, including ACRS, that can select cabling products that are fit for the direct supervision of a registered cabler. and/or a fine of up to $20,400. revised requirements in a number of key connection to the customer side of the verify a cabler’s eligibility for registration. purpose for a particular installation; areas, including: boundary of a telecommunications network. What is required to become a registered The biggest consequence is that, should  additional rules for optical fibre Do mythree-stage staff need classification to be registered?  aall new system This supersedes AS/ACIF S008:2010. anything go wrong or your work is found cabler? systems to guard against laser or ‘hazards-based standard engineering’ to be faulty, your business insurance is No. To ensure compliance with the hazards beThis associated with AS/CA S009:2020 Installation Requirements To become a registered cabler you must approach against potentially increasing unlikely to that covercan you. could lead to ACMA guidelines, cablers must be either optical fibre systems; for Customer (Wiring Rules) complete the Cabling appropriate training course litigation and substantial financial loss risks from rising energy levels in cables registered or, directly supervised at all for the work toinstallation be undertaken  incorporation applies to the and through a of elements of the National for your business. and safeguards between hazardous times by asources cabler who registered Registered Training maintenance of fixedOrganisations or concealed (RTO). Construction Code relating to cable energy and is body parts; for Not being registered is not worth the risk. the type of work being done. cabling or equipment that is connected, flammability and ‘fire-stopping’ to help  new voltage and amperage limits on An Registration is required or isOpen intended to be connected, tofor a inhibit the propagation of fire; and electrical circuits that can be carried commercial and domestic premises telecommunications network, including  new rules for pit and access hole over generic customer cabling; work. For work in domestic premises you any cord or cordage, or that part of any products, with the aim of improving only require a Restricted Registration.  new requirements for communications cord or cordage, that is connected as public safety through a reduction in Peter Lamont cables that are also intended to be fixedmust or concealed You also havecabling. a minimum of 80 the number of trip hazards Director, ACRS used to carry electrical power – for hours cabling experience for Restricted The Standards, enforced by the example to remotely powered devices The revised Australian Standards are Australian Communications and Media such as wireless access points, available for download at Authority (ACMA), have been the surveillance cameras, smart lighting,

Cabling Registration run Cabling run Registration by the theCabling industry, for the industry by therun industry by the industry, for the industry

TheAustralian AustralianCabler Cabler Registration Registration Service The Service (ACRS) (ACRS)provides providesaafast, fast,reliable reliableand and low-cost registration service for the electrical and communications industry. The Australian Cabler Service (ACRS) provides a fast, reliable and low-cost registration service forRegistration the electrical and communications industry. registration service for Peace of mind costs less low-cost than 60c a week! Register with ACRS and reap thethe electrical and communications industry. Peace of mind costs less than 60c a week! Register with ACRS and reap the benefits of Peace of mind costs less than 60c a week! Register with ACRS and reap the fine. benefits of being with the only Australian electrical specialist registry while being with the only Australian electrical specialist while avoiding aACRS heftyand of mind costs less thanregistry 60c a week! Register withwhile reap the benefits ofabeing only Australian electrical specialist registry avoiding heftywith fine. the Peace benefits of being with the only Australian electrical specialist registry while It is illegal for anyone than a registered cabler to install or maintain cabling that avoiding a hefty fine. other avoiding a hefty fine. theanyone telecommunications network. So if you installing any equipment Itconnects is illegaltofor other than a registered cabler toare install or maintain that will connect to the network –afrom smartother home systems to extra phone lines – It isthan illegal for anyone than atoregistered cabler to install or maintain cabling that connects to the telecommunications network. So ifor you are It is illegal for anyone other registered cabler install maintain cabling thatconnect connects to to the network. So if you are you need current cabling registration. installing equipment that will thetelecommunications network –Sofrom smart home cabling thataany connects to the telecommunications network. if you are installing any equipment that will connect to the network – from smart home systems extra phone lines – you need ato current installing equipment that will the network –registration. smart home Carrying any atocurrent cabling registration card confirms youneed have completed systems toconnect extra phone lines – cabling you a from current cablingthe registration. relevanttotraining and gained professional experience to complete the work to the systems extra phone lines the – you need a current cabling registration. Carrying a current cablingCarrying registration confirms you card haveconfirms completed thecompleted the a currentcard cabling registration you have customer’s expectations. relevant and gained the professional experience complete the relevanta training and gained the training professional experience to complete thetothe Carrying current cabling registration card confirms you have completed For more information visit or call 1300 667 771. work to the customer’s expectations. work totraining the customer’s expectations. relevant and gained the professional experience to complete the work to the customer’s expectations.



HOW THE ELECTRIC VEHICLE WILL IMPACT FUTURE ELECTRICIANS YOU WOULD BE HARD PUSHED TO NAME A MANUFACTURER WITH A MORE PROMINENT BRAND IN THE ELECTRIC VEHICLE MARKET THAN THE ONE TESLA CURRENTLY COMMANDS. OF COURSE, MANY MAINSTREAM MANUFACTURERS HAVE AN EV OPTION IN THEIR OFFERINGS, BUT THE REAL IMPACT OF EVS IN THE ELECTROTECHNOLOGY FIELD HAS YET TO BE FELT. So what is an EV? There are currently four main types: Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) These vehicles are fully-electric, meaning they are solely powered by electricity and do not have a petrol, diesel or LPG engine, fuel tank or exhaust pipe. BEVs are also known as ‘plug-in’ EVs, as they use an external electrical charging outlet to charge the battery. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) These vehicles are powered by a combination of fuel and electricity. They can be charged with electricity using a plug but also contain an internal combustion engine that uses liquid fuel. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) These vehicles use a fuel cell instead of a battery, or in combination with a battery or supercapacitor, to power their electric motors. FCEVs are typically fuelled by hydrogen. Non-plug-in hybrid EVs (HEVs) Instead of using an external plug to charge the vehicle, the electricity generated by the HEV’s braking system is used to recharge the battery. This is called ‘regenerative braking’.

Current licensing regulations around Australia focus on restriction of work to licence holders when the nominal voltage is rated as ‘low voltage’. EV batteries often fall under that 50V a.c or 120V d.c. lower threshold, so do not trigger an automatic compliance requirement. Yet the currents that normally flow through an EV system regularly exceed levels considered low risk.

ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) has noted that EVs ”are transforming Australia’s energy system by increasing the amount of distributed energy storage connected to the electricity grid. Charging EVs, particularly through fast-charging stations, poses a significant challenge for electricity distribution networks”.

When you factor in that many of the electricity distribution networks are already challenged through the existing PV solar systems, an ever-increasing amount of EVs providing excess energy back to the grid will only stress those systems more. It is evident that a coherent and clear plan is needed to ensure that the electricity network can cope.

At a national level, these discussions are being held with the industry associations, like NECA and the MTA, as well as the Skills Service Organisations, who are responsible for coordinating the development of the training packages for each industry sector. The conversation is also being had with regulators, who are facing the very real prospect that using the existing definition of low voltage as a ‘licensed work’ trigger, may not be appropriate in a world where EVs don’t just exist, but could soon be the default vehicle choice.

With EVs becoming more mainstream, the driver and electricity consumer will be looking to their electrician to not only install their downlights, but also add a charging station for their new EV. It is this scenario that is driving the discussion about what training an electrician will require - not only to work on the charging infrastructure, but possibly the cars themselves.

Additionally, training of workers takes on a new perspective. Is working on an EV the work of an electrician, or auto electrician? Is the charging station

There’s a lot more to come in this space, but one thing is for sure – these worlds will collide and when they do, we need to be ready.


an appliance or a generation device? Is there an endorsement, skill set or additional licence or registration required to work on the EV, or the charging equipment?

Steve Hall General Manager, College of Electrical Training

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CLEAN ENERGY REGULATOR’S NEW INVERTER SETTINGS INSPECTIONS THE CLEAN ENERGY REGULATOR (CER) WILL BE CHECKING THE SETTINGS OF ROOFTOP SOLAR INVERTERS AS PART OF ITS SMALLSCALE RENEWABLE ENERGY SCHEME (SRES) INSPECTIONS PROGRAM. What is the SRES Inspections Program? The CER conducts random inspections on a sample of systems which have had smallscale technology certificates (STCs) created against them. Inspections are conducted to ensure systems meet installation requirements and eligiblity for STCs. Inspection reports are passed to the Clean Energy Council and relevant state or territory regulators responsible for electrical and building safety. These bodies can take compliance action against installers. What settings will inspectors be looking at?

10-minute average voltage (Vnom-max), and that power quality response modes including Volt-Watt and Volt-var are activated (where applicable). Why are inverter settings being targeted? Investigations by the Australian Energy Market Operator indicate that up to 40% of PV inverters installed since 2016 do not comply with mandatory settings. Some inverters may have incorrect settings applied at installation, while others have had set points changed e.g. to avoid nuisance tripping.

Inspectors will be checking that installers have configured inverters correctly to AS/NS 4777.2:2015 and the connection requirements specified by Distribution Network Service Providers (DNSPs).

Australia now has over 2.5 million grid-connected small-scale solar PV systems. Working together, these systems amount to one of the biggest generators in the electricity grid.

Among others, inspectors will check grid protection settings like maximum

Systems that are not configured correctly can impact network voltage and the


quality of power supply and exacerbate system faults. Such systems impede the operation of others and make it harder for more systems to be installed in the future. Configuring inverters correctly will improve the reliability of the grid and allow more systems to be connected. What do I need to do? Make sure to adhere to the relevant Australian standard, AS/NS 4777.2:2015, and with the local area’s DNSP connection requirements when commissioning solar inverters. Energy Networks Australia has compiled a reference list of DNSP connection requirements on its website. Commissioning an inverter correctly may involve additional steps depending on the inverter make and model. Contact the inverter manufacturer for instructions on how to do this correctly. The systems you install and commission today may be inspected under the SRES Inspections Program in future. For more information on the SRES Inspections Program visit



AND DETECTION DEVICES RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL, NEW OR OLD, ANY BUILDING CAN HAVE HIDDEN ELECTRICAL FAULTS IN ITS CIRCUITRY AND APPLIANCES. WHILE DEVICES SUCH AS MINIATURE CIRCUIT BREAKERS (MCBS), SURGE PROTECTION DEVICES (SPDS), OR RESIDUAL CURRENT DEVICES (RCDS) PROTECT AGAINST SPECIFIC ELECTRICAL HAZARDS, THEY ARE NOT DESIGNED TO DETECT ARC FAULTS. AS/NZS 3000:2018 Clause 2.9 and Appendix O provide guidance on the selection and installation of arc fault detection devices (AFDDs). Types of arc fault There are two types of arc faults: Series arcing faults - An electrical arc within a single active or neutral conductor, in series with the connected load. Parallel arcing faults - An electrical arc between an active and a neutral conductor, or between two active conductors of different phases, or between a live conductor and the protective conductor, in parallel with the connected load. What can cause an arc fault? Fire ignition by arc faults is normally a result of one or more of the following: 

Insulation defects between live conductors leading to fault currents (parallel arcs). Broken or damaged (reduced crosssection) conductors under load current conditions (series arcs). Terminal connections with high resistance.

What is an arc fault detection device? Arc fault detection devices installed in final subcircuits are capable of detecting fault conditions that result from damaged cables within the installation wiring, or damaged flexible cords of electrical equipment plugged into socket-outlets within the installation. An AFDD is a circuit breaker that automatically cuts the electricity supply when it detects an arc fault in a circuit. By cutting the electricity supply, AFDDs help prevent arc faults from reaching temperatures where electrical fires can break out.



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What about MCBs and RCDs?

When should I consider installing AFDDs?

Miniature overcurrent circuit breakers (MCBs), fuses, and residual current devices (RCDs) are not capable of reliably protecting against the effects of arcing due to the nature of the arcing current (including its magnitude, frequency spectrum, mode of arc, and sporadic occurrence), and their response times at the level of current associated with electrical arcing.

Installations in which the use of AFDDs may be appropriate include the following:

AFDDs that do not incorporate integral overcurrent or residual current protection do not provide protection against sustained thermal overloads, short-circuit currents, or residual currents at power frequency.

 

Do I need a separate AFDD for each circuit? As per AS/NZS 3000:2018, an AFDD should be installed after the main switch, located at the switchboard from which the final sub circuit being protected originates and at the origin of the circuit to be protected. Therefore, having a separate AFDD is required for each final sub-circuit.

 

Premises with sleeping accommodation. Premises and locations for children, handicapped or elderly people, e.g. day care centres, pre-schools, other schools, retirement or nursing homes. Premises for gathering of people, e.g. theatres, cinemas, concert halls, universities, event locations, restaurants, bars, exhibitions, underground stations, hospitals commercial centres, shopping malls, office complexes, etc. Locations with risks of fire due to the nature of processed or stored materials, i.e. locations, such as barns, wood-working shops, stores of combustible materials. Locations constructed with combustible materials, e.g. wooden buildings. Fire propagating structures. Locations where irreplaceable goods are stored or displayed and may be endangered, e.g. museums, galleries, etc.

Grant Morehouse Technical Advisor, NECA 1300 361 099

December 2020


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It is critical for electricians installing, maintaining and inspecting wiring on construction and demolition sites to be familiar with safe practices and comply with AS/NZS 3012:2019 Electrical Installations Construction and Demolition sites.

What is construction and demolition wiring? Construction and demolition wiring means wiring systems installed to provide electrical supply for construction and demolition work and is not intended to form part of the permanent electrical installation. The term includes: 

consumer mains and sub-mains supplying site switchboards. sub-mains to site facilities in which electricity is used, such as sheds, amenities or transportable structures. final sub-circuits connected at circuit-breakers on a site switchboard, supplying plant, construction

equipment such as temporary construction lighting, auxiliary socket-outlet panels, hoists, cranes, and personnel lifts. Construction wiring does not include flexible extension cords or flexible cables used to connect portable plug-in electrical equipment or luminaries to a socket outlet.

 

Construction or demolition wiring must: 

not be tied, bundled, or grouped with permanent wiring. not be fixed to free-standing fences that have no fixed posts (or equivalent means of support). be protected against mechanical damage (using medium or heavy duty or corrugated conduit of insulating material, armoured cable, or flexible electrical hose), unless the risk assessment shows such protection is not necessary to maintain electrical safety.


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on any surface within 2.5 m of the floor or ground level. on any surface and within 150 mm of, or attached to, scaffolding. on formwork decks. under a concrete ceiling slab more than 150 mm away from the juncture of the ceiling slab and a wall or beam that would otherwise provide protection. within 150 mm of unearthed metal structures being installed as part of the construction process (e.g. sheet metal ducts and hydraulic piping). across the top of transportable structures, storage containers, shipping containers or the like.

across or over metallic roofs or edges.

in adverse environments.


have mechanical protection in situations such as when installing constructing wiring:

be marked with iridescent yellow tape with the words ‘construction wiring’ spaced at intervals not exceeding five metres to be readily distinguishable from permanent wiring. be positioned to avoid crossing roadways or access ways where cranes, high loads or heavy machinery may travel. If this is not possible, an effective means to minimise the risk of vehicular contact with the overhead wiring system must be provided (such as insulated flagged catenary wires six metres on either side of the overhead wiring and 0.6 m below the lowest point of the overhead electrical cable). All construction wiring, including overhead type, must be insulated.

December 2020


be installed in accordance with AS/ NZS 3000: 2018 Wiring rules. be readily accessible and must be protected from damage during the course of the construction or demolition work. be mounted on a pole, post, wall, floor or other structure of stable and free-standing design that takes into account any external forces that may be exerted on the switchboard. be marked with the source of the supply and where it originates from multi-level buildings, be positioned in a manner that eliminates the need for flexible cords or cables to be run between floor levels.

As per AS/NZS 3012 Clause 2.5.1, when installing construction wiring it shall comply with AS/NZS 3000:2018. Ways to protect the cable from mechanical stress include: cable support at appropriate intervals, fixings, connection method, bending radius, and flexibility, tension and movement. (AS/ NZS 3000 Clause RCDs must operate on all live (active and neutral) conductors (AS/NZS 3012 Clause and must be tested monthly. (AS/NZS 3012 J6.2) Switchboards must be readily accessible and must be protected from damage during the course of the construction or demolition work. (ASNZS 3012 Clause

What do electricians need to keep top of mind on construction or demolition sites?

The source of supply in a switchboard shall be legibly and indelibly marked to identify the source of supply from which it originates. (ASNZS 3012 Clause 2.1.3)

If you encounter damaged construction wiring, tag out of service until it can be repaired, replaced or removed. (AS/NZS 3012 Clause 3.7.2)

Isolating switches shall be provided with a means to prevent electrical equipment from being inadvertently energised while undertaking work on electrical installations. (AS/NZS 3012 Clause 2.4.2)

Only PSOAs (Portable Socket Outlet Assemblies) are permitted to be used on construction and demolition sites. (AS/ NZS 3012 Clause 2.6.10) Unidentified wiring is deemed to be live. (AS/NZS 3012 Clause 2.5.4) Where unidentified cabling or loose ends are discovered, they must be removed, terminated into a junction box and/ or tagged out of service. (AS/NZS3000 Clause


Main switchboard isolating switches must be marked ‘MAIN SWITCH’ and the distribution board isolating switches must be marked ‘DISTRIBUTION BOARD ISOLATING SWITCH’. (AS/NZS 3012 Clause 2.4.3) Switchboards must also be marked with an electric shock symbol and a danger sign warning workers of the presence of energised or live parts within the switchboard. (AS/NZS 3012 as per Appendix C)

An auxiliary socket outlet panel must be robust in construction and have a minimum IP23 rating. (AS/NZS 3012 Clause 2.6.11) Lamps in luminaires must be protected against mechanical damage. The recommended minimum lighting level (lux) for walkways is 40 lx, and 160 lx for general areas. (AS/NZS 3012 Clause 2.7.1) Emergency Lighting shall be provided in designated access and egress paths and directly above and in front of switchboards. 20 lx at 900mm above floor level along the centre line of a corridor. In the event of loss of normal supply, the light shall operate for a minimum of 1 hour. (AS/NZS 3012 Clause Records of inspection and tests must be kept for the duration of the construction or demolition project. The following should be recorded and be available for inspection at all times - register of all equipment, record of formal inspections and tests, repairs register and record of faulty equipment, where applicable. (AS/NZS 3012 Clause 3.9) When testing and tagging electrical equipment, the recommended colours for tags and timing are Red (Dec – Feb), Green (March – May), Blue (June – Aug) and Yellow (Sep – Nov). (AS/NZS 3012 Clause 3.7.3 and Appendix D) NECA Members can access the updated standard: AS/NZS 3012:2019 Electrical installations - Construction and demolition sites on NECA’s TKB.

NECA Training (02) 9188 4424

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IS IT REALLY NECESSARY? NECA receives several calls a week relating to installation of Residual Current Devices (RCDs) on non-domestic and non-residential premises and issues associated with nuisance tripping. There are reasons why nuisance tripping occurs. Most commonly, faulty equipment, or too much equipment on the one circuit, leading to a cumulative residual current build-up. There are very few instances where you could consider not installing an RCD.

What types of non-domestic and non-residential installations require RCD protection? Types of installations include but are not limited to: (a) individual commercial or industrial electrical installations; or (b) multiple commercial or industrial electrical installations that are provided for common use; or (c) external lighting installations in common areas of multiple commercial or industrial electrical installations; or (d) commercial or industrial portions of mixed installations.

Where should RCD protection be installed? Where protection of final subcircuits is required, RCDs shall be installed at the switchboard at which the final subcircuit originates. Exception: Where the wiring system is installed with additional mechanical protection against mechanical damage, complying with the requirements of Clause or Clause, the RCD protection specifically intended for the protection of that socket-outlet or direct connected electrical equipment can be installed at, or adjacent to the socketoutlet or direct connected electrical equipment (e.g. factory).

What are the requirements for additional protection by RCDs? Additional protection by RCDs with a maximum rated residual current of 30 mA shall be provided for final subcircuits with a rating not exceeding 32 A supplying – (a) socket-outlets; or



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Q: I’ve got a 20A circuit. Do I need to put an RCD on it? A: Yes. RCDs are mandatory. Q: But it keeps tripping. Does it have to be there? A: Yes. RCDs are mandatory. There are a number of reasons for nuisance tripping. This will require fault finding to determine the cause of the fault.

(b) lighting; or (c) direct connected hand-held electrical equipment, e.g. directly connected tools; or (d) direct connected electrical equipment that represents an increased risk of electric shock. Factors that may represent an increased risk of electric shock include but are not limited to – (i) external influences (refer Clause 1.5.14); and (ii) type of electrical installation and processes being conducted (e.g. workshops and particular industrial activities). NOTE: For all other final subcircuits with a rating not exceeding 32 A for direct connected equipment, additional protection by RCDs with a maximum rated residual current of 30 mA should be considered.

Are there any exceptions to this clause? Exceptions can include: 1. Repairs in accordance with Clause 2. Situations where the disconnection of a circuit by an RCD could cause a danger greater than earth leakage current (e.g. traffic signals). 3. Final subcircuits installed for the connection of specific items of equipment, provided that the connected equipment is designed, constructed and installed in such a manner that is not likely to present a significant risk of electric shock and (i) is required by the owner or operator to perform a function that is essential to the performance of the installation and that function would be adversely affected by a loss of supply caused by the RCD operation; or (ii) may cause spurious nuisance tripping through high leakage current being generated in the normal operation of the equipment (e.g. VSDs).

Q: Can I apply AS/NZS 3000:2018 Clause Exception 3? A: There are very limited circumstances where this exception can be applied.

In addition, where the specific item of equipment is connected by a plug and socket-outlet, that socket-outlet is 

located in a position that is not likely to be accessed for general use; and clearly marked to indicate the restricted use of that socket-outlet and that RCD protection is not provided for that socket-outlet.

4. Where other methods of protection are applied, e.g. a separated supply in accordance with Clause 7.4. Electricians must weigh up the risks associated with not installing an RCD, particularly the increased safety risks of electric shock and associated liability. As part of this process electricians should consider all RCD options available – there are six types of RCD. There are very limited circumstances where an electrician could, or should consider an ‘exception’ to installing an RCD. Examples of this are equipment with Variable Speed Drivers (VCDs) or traffic lights. In these cases, a hazard assessment must be completed and evidence gathered from the equipment manufacturer and RCD manufacturer that indicates an exception could be considered.

Grant Morehouse Technical Advisor, NECA 1300 361 099

December 2020


FOR ELECTRICAL CONTRACTING BUSINESSES THE JOBKEEPER SUBSIDY HAS BEEN DESIGNED TO SUPPORT BUSINESSES AFFECTED BY COVID-19 AND IT COMES TO AN END IN MARCH 2021. DURING THESE DIFFICULT COVID TIMES, YOUR RISK OF EXPOSURE TO HIGH LEVELS OF DEBT IS REDUCED AS A RESULT OF THE JOBKEEPER SUBSIDIES, HOWEVER WHEN THEY ARE WITHDRAWN, MANY BUSINESSES WILL NOT BE ABLE TO REPAY THEIR DEBTS. When chasing your debts you should spend your resources on chasing the debtors that are most likely to pay you before wasting resources on debtors who you are unlikely to get any money from. Contractual rights and obligations Contracts determine when and how to make claims for payment. You should always have a written contract and know and understand your contractual rights and obligations. For example, for residential works, if you have no signed written contract, the legislation may stop you from making a claim. Additionally, if you submit your claims at the incorrect time it may invalidate your claim under the Security of Payment legislation. Due Date for Payment Once you have submitted your claim you need to wait for the due date of payment to see if you have received

payment under the Security of Payment legislation the due date for payment is as follows:

South Australia The due date set out in the contract and if no date, then 15 business days.

Australian Capital Territory The due date set out in the contract and if no date, then 10 business days.

Tasmania The due date set out in the contract and if no date, then 20 business days for residential works and 10 business days for other works.

Queensland The due date set out in the contract and if no date, then 10 business days. New South Wales For non-residential work the due date is 15 business days for contracts between the head contractor and principal, or 20 business days for subcontractors, unless a lesser date is provided for in the Contract and for residential works the due date set out in the contract and if no date then 10 business days. Northern Territory The due date is the dates in the contract to a maximum of 50 days and if there is no date then 28 days.

Victoria The payment is due within 10 business days of receiving the payment claim, or if shorter, as provided by the Contract. Western Australia The due date is the dates in the contract to a maximum of 42 days and if there is no date then 28 days. When to take further steps to recover monies owed If you have submitted a claim and have not been paid by the due date you should contact the debtor and ask if and when they intend to make payment. It is important to follow up as this shows the debtor you are on top of your affairs and are serious about being paid on time. If when following up it becomes apparent that the debtor does not intend to make payment, then you should take immediate enforcement steps. If cash flow is an issue for the debtor then negotiate an acceptable instalment payment plan and get this in writing in case the debtor defaults. Initial steps if not paid The initial steps to take if you have not been paid are as follows: 1. get your accounts department to contact the debtor by telephone; 2. send the debtor emails requiring / demanding payment; and 3. contact the legal team in your NECA branch, to send out a letter of demand on your behalf.



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Options where payment is not made after taking the above 3 steps If you have not been paid after the above three steps are taken you may consider making a claim under the Security of Payment Act, utilise the dispute resolution process under your Contact and/or commence Court proceedings. Security of Payment Process To commence action under the Security of Payment Act you must serve a valid payment claim. A valid payment claim, must: 1. be served by or on behalf of a Claimant; 2. be endorsed with the “magic word” that state that the claim is made under the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act. The exact wording varies from State to State; 3. identify the Respondent and work performed;

value of the claim will depend on the Court that proceedings can be commenced in. Each state and territory has a different name for their lower Courts such as Local Court and Magistrates Court.

part of their wages until the debt is paid off. However, the debtor must be left with a minimum amount to live on.

The general steps to commence proceedings is as follows:

A garnishee order for debts allows you to recover the debt owing from the other party’s bank account, or a third party who holds money on behalf of the debtor. If a debtor owes you money find out what other projects they working on so that you can garnishee monies owed to the debtor in respect of these projects.

1. you will need to file a claim with the relevant Court; 2. the claim will then need to be served on the debtor; 3. the debtor has to respond in a specific time frame (this time frame varies from state to state but is generally 21 to 28 days); 4. if the debtor fails to put on a defence you can seek default judgment; or 5. if the debtor puts on a defence then you will be required to attend court, provide evidence and attend a hearing to obtain a judgment.

4. identify the claimed amount; and 5. relate to work performed prior to a reference date. Once a payment claim is served the debtor has 10 business days to serve a payment schedule. If you do not agree with the amount the debtor proposes to pay you can take the claimed to Adjudication. If the debtor fails to serve a payment schedule in response to your payment claim you can take the debtor to Court for failure to respond to a payment claim. In this circumstance the debtor is not entitled to raise a defence about the works/contract. Dispute Resolution under the Contract If you have not been paid as a result of a dispute to the claimed amount you can also follow the dispute resolution clauses in your contract. The relevant Contract may provide the steps to resolve the dispute including issuing a notice of dispute, time frames for conferences in attempt to reach a solution and the steps to take if an agreement is not reach such as proceeding to arbitration.

Enforcement options There are a number of enforcement options available to recover the funds, in circumstances where you have received judgment and still have not been paid. The following options are available in NSW, however similar options are available for each state but may have a different name. Examination Notice and Order An examination notice requires the defendant to provide information concerning their income, assets, and liabilities within 28 days of receiving the notice. In the event that the debtor fails to provide the required information you can apply for an examination order, which requires the debtor to attend Court and answer questions under oath about their income and liabilities.

Garnishee Order for Debts

Writ for the Levy of Property A writ for the levy of property is an order for a Sheriff to seize and sell, at auction, property belonging to the debtor so that the judgement debt can be paid. Writ for the Delivery of Goods A writ for the delivery of goods is valid for 12 months and allows the Sheriff to seize and return goods to you or to recover the value of the goods by seizing and selling other property of the debtor. Statutory Demand A statutory demand is a demand under s 459E of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) requiring the debtor company to pay a specified sum within 21 days from the date that the demand is delivered to them. The demand must relate to a debt reaching a sum of at least $2,000.00. Please note that currently, due to the COIVD-19 pandemic, the time frames to respond have increased from 21 days to 6 months and the value due has increased from $2,000 to $20,000.

Garnishee Order for Wages or Salary A garnishee order for wages or salary allows you to recover the judgement debt of an individual from the other party’s wages or salary. The debtor’s employer will be required to withhold

Court Proceedings If you have not been paid you may commence proceedings in the relevant Court. Please note that depending on the


Marina Galatoulos Solicitor, CTI Lawyers

Disclaimer: This summary is a guide only and is not legal advice.

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PERSONAL/CARER’S LEAVE A HIGH COURT RULING HAS REVERSED THE WAY PERSONAL/CARER’S LEAVE IS CALCULATED. THE DECISION MEANS THAT EMPLOYERS CAN RETURN TO THE ACCRUAL OF PERSONAL/CARER’S LEAVE ON AN HOURLY BASIS. The High Court has granted an appeal by Mondelez Australia concerning the method of accruing and calculating paid personal/carer’s leave under section 96(1) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Act). Section 96(1) of the Act provides that “For each year of service with his or her employer, an employee is entitled to 10 days of paid personal/carer’s leave”. Employees are entitled to access their accrued personal/carer’s leave in the following circumstances: 1. because the employee is not fit to work because of a personal illness, or personal injury, affecting the employee; or 2. to provide care or support to a member of the employee’s immediate family, or a member of the employee’s household, who requires care or support because of: a. a personal illness, or personal injury, affecting the member; or b. an unexpected emergency affecting the member. The calculation of personal/carer’s leave is quite simple where an employee works a set 7.6 hours per day, 5 days a week, but what happens if an employee’s ordinary hours incorporate 12-hour days?

Federal Court decision In the case of Mondelez Australia Pty Ltd v Automotive, Food, Metals, Engineering, Printing and Kindred Industries Union (AMWU) (Mondelez Case) [2019] FCAFC 138 it was argued that section 96(1) of the Act entitled employees to paid personal/ carer’s leave sufficient to cover 10 absences from work per year. On 21 August 2019, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia (Full Federal Court) determined that personal/carer’s leave was to be calculated based on a “working day” construction and that the term, “day”, meant the amount of a 24-hour period that would otherwise be assigned to work; known as the “working day” construction.



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In other words, if an employee’s ordinary hours were 12 hours on any given day, and that employee were to take personal/carer’s leave, they would be entitled to personal/carer’s leave equating to 12 hours. This “working day” interpretation decision went against the standard accrual and payment processes for personal/carer’s leave and an appeal was made to the High Court of Australia in August 2020 whereby the High Court needed to consider whether “day” in “10 days” referred to: 1. a “notional day” consisting of one-tenth of the equivalent of an employee’s ordinary hours of work in a two-week period; or 2. the “working day” construction (as determined by the Full Federal Court). The High Court determined that the concept of “notional day” is consistent with the meaning of section 96(1) of the Act.

Calculation of Personal/ Carer’s Leave The findings of the High Court of Australia were as follows: 1. the term “10 days” under section 96(1) of the Act refers to two standard fiveday working weeks;

High Court Observations In addition to its findings, the High Court observed that: 1. an entitlement to paid personal/ carer’s leave accrues progressively in the course of a year of service, for all employees, by reference to ordinary hours worked and not by reference to days or working patterns; 2. employees working the same number of ordinary hours accrue paid personal/ carer’s leave at the same rate and, after working the same number of ordinary hours, are entitled to be paid for the same number of ordinary hours, regardless of whether their ordinary hours over a two-week period are worked across ten, six or five days in that period; and 3. the purpose of paid/carer’s leave is to protect employees against loss of earnings, and it does that by reference to their ordinary hours of work. As a result, the amount of leave accrued does not vary according to their pattern of hours or work.

Takeaway Points

2. the term “one day” refers to a notional day (consists of one-tenth of the equivalent of an employee’s ordinary hours of work in a two-week period); and

This clarification means that employers (and in particular those dealing with payroll) can return to the accrual of personal/carer’s leave on an hourly basis. When leave is taken it is deducted from the employee’s accrued paid personal/ carer’s leave on an hourly basis.

3. as some patterns of work do not follow the two-week cycle, the 10-day entitlement to personal/carer’s leave can be calculated as 1/26 of an employee’s ordinary hours of work in a year.

Further, part-time employees are entitled to 10 “notional days” of paid personal/ carer’s leave per year, which is calculated as 1/10th of the employee’s ordinary hours of work in a two-week period.

Johnny Brits Legal Practice Director NECA Legal (WA)

Disclaimer: This summary is a guide only and is not legal advice.

December 2020




THE END OF THE WORKING YEAR GOES HAND-IN-HAND WITH COMPANY CELEBRATIONS AND SOCIAL FUNCTIONS. MANY EMPLOYERS CHOOSE TO CELEBRATE THE YEAR THAT HAS PAST WITH AN END-OF-YEAR WORK FUNCTION. It is important to recognise that an end-ofyear work function, even if it is after hours and off site, is still considered to be ‘in the course of employment,’ so you need to ensure you understand the legal obligations you have towards your employees. This year comes with an extra obligation for employers, ensuring that your end-of-year work function is COVID-Safe and compliant with local restrictions and guidelines.  Check the local restrictions by visiting the website of your state authority.  Plan your event around the current restrictions.  Advise employees of their obligations (e.g. if they are required to wear masks, required to be seated while consuming alcohol, required to observe social distancing, etc.). At out-of-hours work functions, you still have a responsibility to abide by your obligations under work health and safety legislation. This means you are still required to provide a safe environment for your employees and guests.  If you do not already have a clear drug and alcohol policy in place, ensure that one is implemented well before the end-of-year work function and make sure all employees are informed, aware, and understand the policy, and the ramifications for failure to comply.  If you do have a policy in place, make sure that it is up-to-date and implemented. Even if employees have been made aware of it in the past, it is still important to emphasise the importance of the policy.  Ensure alcohol is served responsibly.  Provide non-alcoholic alternatives and appropriate quantities of food.


Make sure appropriate transport arrangement are in place – no employees should be driving home drunk.  If you have underage employees you must not condone underage drinking or provide them with access to alcohol; consider whether it is appropriate for underage employees to be invited to attend the event.  Always remember that you are responsible for all your employees during the night – limit your own consumption of alcohol.  Appoint a ‘supervisor’ who will abstain from drinking alcohol and take responsibility for monitoring intoxication and unfavourable behaviour. 

If an employee suffers an injury at a workrelated function out of normal working hours, they may be able to claim under your workers’ compensation insurance.  Set a start and finish time. Inform employees of these times and that any continuation of festivities after the function are not endorsed by you and are on the employees’ own time.  Appoint a ‘supervisor’ who will abstain from drinking alcohol to assist in monitoring and preventing employees from participating in dangerous activities or behaving in a manner that could cause injury to themselves or others.  Carefully pick an activity for your end-of-year work function, and ensure you understand the risks and legal obligations. Bungy jumping might seem

like a fun idea, but imagine the effect it would have on your employee (and your business) if they were to be injured. If you have an employee that engages in sexual harassment or some other form of undesirable behaviour in a situation connected to their employment, you could be held vicariously liable under anti-discrimination legislation (unless you have taken reasonable steps to prevent the conduct).  If you do not already have a clear sexual harassment policy in place, ensure that one is implemented well before the end-of-year work function and make sure all employees are informed, aware, and understand the policy, and the ramifications for failure to comply.  If you do have a policy in place, make sure that it is up to date and implemented. Even if employees have been made aware of it in the past, it is still important to emphasise the importance of the policy.  Make sure all employees are aware that the workplace polices extend to the endof-year work function, and other workrelated events outside working hours.  Train staff on appropriate workplace behaviour.  You, or an appointed employee, should oversee the function and take action where appropriate to ensure inappropriate behaviour does not occur or escalate.  Ensure appropriate consumption of alcohol.  Set guidelines regarding Secret Santa gift giving (if applicable) to ensure that no one receives a gift that is offensive or sexual. For more information about your obligations as an employer, contact your local NECA Branch.

Sabina Pola NECA SA/NT Workplace Relations Advisor (08) 8272 2966

Disclaimer: This summary is a guide only and is not legal advice.

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BUSINESS IN BRIEF ARE YOU MEETING MINIMUM WAGE OBLIGATIONS? Updated Wage Bulletins for the Electrical, Electronic and Communications Contracting Award 2020 and the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2020 are now available through your local NECA Branch. Minimum wage increases are effective from the first full pay period on or after 1 November 2020. If your employees are covered by an Enterprise Agreement,

you should review the base rate of pay to ensure it doesn’t fall below the base rate in the Award. If your employees are covered by individual employment contracts, and they are receiving slightly above Award minimum wages, you should review your wage and allowance rates to ensure that you are still paying the minimum rate of pay in the Awards.



The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) is auditing labour hire businesses to ensure they are paying their employees correctly. The audits will commence in December 2020 and will examine records from November 2020. These audits will focus on key areas identified in the outcomes of the ABCC’s 2019 labour hire audit campaign.

There is help available if you are considering undertaking a stocktake of your business to see whether it is coping, ready to change and adapt, you are able to grow or start a new venture, or if you are considering pausing or winding up your operations.

Three simple steps to prepare: 1. Make sure you are paying your employees correctly Check that you are paying your employees the right amount under the relevant enterprise agreement or modern award. 2. Make sure you are keeping all required records Your records and pay slips must comply with the requirements in the Fair Work Act and Fair Work Regulations.

All businesses need a COVIDSafe plan to keep their workers and customers safe but, no matter what stage you are at, you can make a plan to support your business operations as Australia adapts to COVID-19 and moves into economic recovery. Resources for COVIDSafe plans are available on and

3. Contact the ABCC for assistance If you’re not sure, or if you find issues with your payments or records, contact the ABCC for advice. To stay up-to-date on the latest news from the ABCC, including upcoming audits and audit outcomes, subscribe to Industry Update at



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The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has released guidelines on JobKeeper overpayments, confirming that businesses wrongly credited under the subsidy scheme may be required to make repayments.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has taken action after a NSW company failed to pay a subcontractor for work at the Parliament House Security Upgrade Project. These are the first court proceedings that the ABCC has initiated relating to noncompliance with security of payments laws.

If the ATO identifies that a business has received an overpayment of JobKeeper and there is evidence of deliberate actions to get JobKeeper payments, the ATO will be seeking repayment and penalties may apply. If the ATO deems overpayment is the result of ‘an honest mistake’, the ATO may decide the overpayment does not have to be repaid. This decision is made on the facts and circumstances of each case. A mistake will not be considered honest if for example, the business has been contacted by the ATO previously regarding eligibility concerns, and has not taken reasonable steps to check before making additional claims. It will also not be considered if the employer has deliberately not met the wage conditions under the subsidy scheme, or knowingly nominated employees that do not satisfy eligibility criteria. To find out more about the JobKeeper payment guidelines visit

The subcontractor had made a payment claim under the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2009 (ACT). The ABCC’s audit alleged the company had failed to comply with the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 (Building Code) when it failed to make payment to its subcontractor. NECA strongly advocates that subcontractors should be paid for the work they do, and that safeguards are in place to ensure that there is fairness, security and certainty of payment as part of the contract for work undertaken. Each state and territory has its own security of payment laws. To understand how the law works in your region, ABCC has compiled a suite of factsheets to ensure subbies get paid on time.

IMPROVEMENTS TO UNPAID PARENTAL LEAVE ENTITLEMENTS The federal government has introduced legislation to improve unpaid parental leave entitlements for families dealing with the trauma of stillbirths, infant deaths and premature births. Currently, parents who experience a stillbirth or infant death are only entitled to a guaranteed six-weeks of unpaid leave before they can be required to return to work.

is in hospital, and then restarting their unpaid parental leave when their baby comes home.

unpaid parental leave on a flexible basis (in days or weeks) any time up to two years after the birth or adoption of their child.

Changes will also be made to complement the new flexible Parental Leave Payment to allow employees to use up to 30 days of their existing entitlement to 12 months

For more information on unpaid parental leave contact your local NECA Branch and ask to speak with your Workplace Relations Advisor.

The Fair Work Amendment (Improving Unpaid Parental Leave for Parents of Stillborn Babies and Other Measures) Bill, 2020, creates a guaranteed entitlement to 12-months of unpaid leave for eligible parents – the same amount of unpaid leave parents of healthy babies can choose to take. For parents of premature babies, or newborns that experience birth-related complications that result in immediate hospitalisation, the Government is also removing a barrier that prevented them from going back to work while their child


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SOCIAL MEDIA IS A TERM THAT REPRESENTS APPS/WEBSITES THAT PEOPLE CAN VISIT TO SHARE IDEAS, INFORMATION, AND INTERACT WITH OTHERS (SUCH AS FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM). a photo and upload it on your business page. So within a minute, you can create a post that can give you an opportunity for new trade, or a portfolio of work achieved, that others can see. The thing I love about social media is that it provides an even playing field. This is an introduction to any reader looking to start a digital journey that can take your business anywhere. Are you starting from scratch? That’s OK! Everyone starts from the same spot when establishing their online presence – like riding a bike; it takes a few attempts before you can gain the confidence to do it well. Think about your businesses and its online fingerprint. Where is my business listed? Do I have a Facebook business page? Do I have a Google business listing? Do I have a business Instagram account? If the answer is no to any of these, I highly encourage you to do one thing immediately; create one. It’s the digital equivalent of a notice board - only in this case, we have a much larger audience and the opportunities are endless. Facebook is King When thinking about your customers and potential customers, I can guarantee that a significant portion are active on Facebook. Over 60% of Australians are regular Facebook users so why not put yourself front and centre for prospective customers to see? Photos are your proof of professionalism Customers love gaining inspiration from jobs you’ve done at other homes and businesses, because it shows what you could do for them. So, start to take photos! Collect the pictures and details around the jobs that you do day-to-day as active advertisements to others. It takes seconds to open your phone, take



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Authenticity is everything online. It doesn’t need to be a display home or a supermodel in the photo, people like seeing the real deal – whether it’s a circuit board from hell or a ceiling the size of a shoebox. Customers like seeing problem-solving and the genuine business they will be dealing with, so please show that. Maximise Your Exposure If you like a specific brand or product that customers love? Mention it with your post! Electrical brands love seeing contractors post their products and often reward/ acknowledge these people to their audience, which can boost your exposure from the followers of your page to thousands of people. Hashtags or ‘Tagging’ is using the # or @ symbols in your post that shows up for that said business/product. Where are my local trade opportunities? Check out ‘Facebook Groups’ – on Facebook; there are thousands of local pages called ‘groups’ that have members of the community discussing various things, including looking for local contractors. I highly encourage all readers to explore your suburb/ district community pages and announce yourself on there. Even interact as your business page with helpful advice and jobs that you may have done in the local area. I know of a local contractor that has roughly

a quarter of his ongoing business from being active and friendly in his local Facebook group, and now other members recommend his company. That’s your digital word of mouth in practice! Received a negative review? Often we see contractors have bad reviews from customers that may be misinformed or have unrealistic expectations. I recommended acknowledging these reviews by replying to them – being able to disarm, and answer with a level of professionalism and stick to the facts. Google/Facebook reviews can be the difference in decision making for a customer; it’s important to respond and clarify to other readers looking at the review with your version of the events. When replying, be friendly. Thank them for the review and then explain the details. This is not for the person you are responding to – but for the reader that does not know what happened and can rest easy knowing that the bad review may be in the wrong/ misunderstood the situation that has led to the negative review. Compare and contrast I highly encourage you to look at similar businesses – look at their posts as a source of inspiration for how you can uniquely replicate their ideas on your social media page. By following the steps that I’ve mentioned in this article, any contractor wanting to promote their business can do it through the use of the tools freely available on social media.

John Blore Digital Communications Manager, Lawrence & Hanson

December 2020

BUSINESS INSURANCE TIPS Have you thought about cyber insurance? With more people working from home, small businesses are an attractive target for cyber criminals. A cyber policy can cover you against ransomware attacks, business interruptions following hacks and social engineering. A good cyber policy will also provide you with an incident hotline. You receive an invoice from a subcontractor for $15,000. The following week you receive another email asking you to make payment to new bank details, so you make the payment. A couple of weeks later you are chased for payment and it is realised that the new bank details were faked by someone who hacked your system. NECA recommends that you take out a Cyber Policy with social engineering extensions that could cover this loss.


Have you checked that your builders contract works policy covers you?

Have you checked if your policy has restricted location inclusions?

Traditionally a policy taken out by a builder or principal, Contract Works covers a project including materials, such as copper wire from a building site even if already integrated into the unfinished project. Whilst the principal or builder will usually take out a policy that covers all the contractors, principals and builders are increasingly trying to reduce costs by not extending cover to contractors or taking a large excess which they force you to pay.

Some Public Liability insurance policies may have exclusions for work done in certain location or industries. Commonly excluded areas are mines, quarries, airports or airfields, power generation and rail.

NECA recommends that you ask for confirmation that contractors and subcontractors have been included. If not, you can take out an annual policy or a single contract policy of your own.

NECA recommends using an insurance broker that covers for contractors working in hazardous areas and that may be able to provide you with a policy for the adequate cover you require.

If you have a claim from work in an excluded location, you most likely won’t be covered. An insurer may also limit cover for other claims if they determine a nondisclosure of work in an excluded location, meaning they charged the wrong premium.

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Clipsal by Schneider Electric has been helping to make Australian homes safer since 1920, and is taking this journey further by bringing a new level of electrical protection to homes with the Arc Fault Detection Device (AFDD): an innovative protective device that helps to detect the presence of electric arcs and automatically isolates the relevant circuit.


Latest installation standard AS/NZS 3000:2018 recommends the use of AFDDs for premises with sleeping accommodation, children, handicapped or elderly people, combustible goods storage locations and locations with irreplaceable goods.


Clipsal AFDD incorporates RCD, MCB and AFD functionalities in 1 device. It is just 2 modules wide with 6kA short circuit breaking capacity. It providesfull installation flexibility with the option of having line connection either from top or bottom.

Schneider Electric has recently launched EcoStruxure Power Build for contractors, an online configurator that enables contractors to create, design and deliver medium voltage projects faster and easier. Through this tool, contractors are able to leverage a library of pre-configured switchgears and transformers with comprehensive support documentation including data sheets, manuals, standard configurations and schematic drawings to help quote and deliver solutions quickly.


Contractors that have an account with Schneider Electric will also be able to view net prices, lead times and download configurations and quotes directly from the tool. Save time and keep your business agile with Schneider Electric’s Ecostruxure Power Build.


The Brymen BM877 Digital Multimeter from CABAC is a handy two in one tool saving you time and effort, with one less tool to carry on the job.

The Brymen BM877 has a built in insulation and continuity tester ideal for testing new installations or for plant maintenance. Key features include: Tests for true rms voltage (including variable speed drive voltages) and resistance;  Range insulation testing with a test ability of various intervals from 50V to 1000V;  Function testing using a remote test lead so hands are free to hold the leads; 



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Dielectric absorption ratio (DAR) and polarisation index (PI) testing for cables, motors and transformers;  Continuity testing at over 200mA for testing resistance to Wiring Rules AS/NZS 3000; and  Ability to set a PASS/FAIL result 

December 2020





The M18 FUEL™ Powered Fish Tape is the world’s first battery powered fish tape solution. The Powered Fish Tape’s AUTO-RUN™ Powered Feed and Retract eliminates manual pulling tools for less user fatigue and automatically reels the tape back into the cartridge for a cleaner job site.

Powerful machines need powerful push buttons and signaling devices. The Siemens SIRIUS ACT range from APS Industrial is your answer. These high-performance push buttons, indicator lights and switches offer the perfect balance of style, intelligence and durability. An innovative snap-on concept also makes the task of installing a unit easier than ever before. The SIRIUS ACT range from APS Industrial also maintains its durability and reliability when dust or water under high pressure are involved. Even oils, caustic solutions and extreme environmental influences cannot disrupt reliable operation.

The Powered Fish Tape features a POWERSTATE™ Brushless Motor that provides the ability to pull cable and wire through a 30m run with 360° degrees of bends. The M18 FUEL™ Powered Fish Tape reduces downtime, with an automatic feed that pushes through bends fast for maximum job site efficiency. The Powered Fish Tape is powered by the M18™ REDLITHIUM™-ION battery pack (not included) and comes with the 30 m Non-Conductive Cartridge (49445195). It is also equipped with REDLINK™ PLUS Intelligence for maximum performance, and protection from overload.

The various communication interfacing options provided by SIRIUS ACT enable simple combinations of push buttons and signaling devices, HMI touch screens and industrial PCs. This means complex input stations can be set up without extensive wiring and engineering time and effort.

CONNECT TOTHE FUTURE WITH INDILOUVER PRO Zumtobel Group Pacific is proud to introduce the new Thorn Indilouver Pro, a unique combination of comfort and connectivity. The Indilouver Pro is prepared for any form of installation, including office, education and health care applications. Offering a sleek design with modern technological advancements it is an ideal solution to support Green Star certification and WELL Building standard requirements. Wellbeing in office spaces is enhanced by holistic lighting ecosystems. The Thorn Indilouver Pro features Active Light technology, which uniquely imitates natural light. Active Light is


linked to daylight dynamics, actively supporting the natural biorhythm and seamlessly ensuring maximum visual comfort for tasks. Such human centric lighting solutions bring people together and promote creativity.

The local production in Australia and the flexibility of the new Indilouver Pro allows clients to be creative and unique with their lighting solutions.

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WORKERS IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY OFTEN WORK UNDER HOT CONDITIONS, WITH HEAT STRESS AND ULTRAVIOLET (UV) RADIATION EXPOSURE WELL-RECOGNISED WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY HAZARDS. WITH AUSTRALIAN SUMMERS RENOWNED FOR BEING VERY HOT AND DRY, IT’S IMPORTANT TO MANAGE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH HEAT STRESS AND SOLAR UV RADIATION. Did you know? Workers in very hot environments can lose up to 1 litre of fluid every hour  Heatstroke is fatal in up to 80% of cases  Heat kills more Australians than any natural disaster  Record-breaking temperatures are becoming more common in Australia 

Top tips for heat stress management Regularly drink cool water, not ice-cold water  Take regular breaks  Avoid caffeine  Reduce time spent doing work activities in the heat, e.g. job rotation or work during the cooler part of the day 


Heat Stroke Symptoms Throbbing headache No sweating  Body temp above 40°C  Red, hot, dry skin  Nausea, vomiting  Rapid, strong pulse  May lose consciousness  

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms Faint or dizzy Excessive sweating  Cool, pale, clammy skin  Nausea, vomiting  Rapid, weak pulse  Muscle cramps  

How to treat it  

How to treat it Move to cooler location Drink water  Take a cool shower or use cold compress  

Get emergency help Keep cool until treated by immersing in cold water for 15 minutes OR wet the person with cold or cool water, apply ice packs, keep skin wet, fan continuously

Know the symptoms of heat stress To prevent solar UV radiation exposure, remember to ‘slip, slop, slap’ - wear clothes that cover the arms and legs, apply sunscreen, and wear a hat. You should also work in the shade where possible. Look out for your work mates and if you have work health and

COPING WITH CHRISTMAS For many people, the festive season is an exciting time to connect with others and celebrate. But for others, it can be the most stressful time.

safety concerns, raise them with your employer. For further information regarding safety in your workplace this summer, reach out to the WHS experts at your local NECA Branch or visit

Beyond Blue (24/7) 1300 224 636

Lifeline (24/7) 13 11 14

Financial issues, family conflict and loneliness can increase stress for people with anxiety or depression in the lead up to Christmas and the new year. If you’re feeling alone or lonely, it’s important to reach out and talk to someone.



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December 2020






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