Message to Divers

An update on the process of national harmonisation of OHS laws in the diving sector.

To All MUA Divers

As part of the Federal Government's approach to the national harmonisation of OHS laws, the first tranche of regulations included high risk industries such as the diving sector.  Initially, discussions between WorkSafe Australia and the equivalent state OHS bodies were supportive of strong regulations that included reference to the AS 2299 Standards and ADAS.

As the process of consultation through the Strategic Issues Group (made up of state and Commonwealth WorkSafe agencies, employer organisations and the ACTU) it became clear that the voices of the recreation diving sector were overwhelming the discussion about high-risk diving and the need for the retention of strong regulation.  A number of state agencies either supported a more deregulated approach and others keeping the existing regulations with reference to the series of AS 2299 Standards and maintaining ADAS as the occupational diver accreditation scheme.

As this dilemma unfolded Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman met with the ACTU representative on the SIG Margot Hoyte and ADAS CEO Paul Butler and we commenced to develop a lobbying campaign on the retention of regulations in diving that are important to the health and wellbeing of divers, particularly those in the construction field. The first public meeting was held in Cairns and it was quite clear WorkSafe Queensland were supportive of the recreation diving industry and against all union efforts to convince them of the importance of strong regulations in the construction area were happy to see the draft regulations in their current form proceed. 

A second public interest meeting was held in Victoria and there was much stronger protests from interested parties, including abalone and scientific divers, some employers and a few construction divers. At that meeting Deputy National Secretary Doleman encouraged everyone to participate in the comment period on the draft regulations and we have been collaborating with the ACTU and ADAS to maximise our influence in this area.  

As a result there has been cross branding of our campaign and you will find a link here to the ADAS website and references to how to make a submission.  You will also find a copy of the current draft regulations and a critique compiled by ADAS, ACTU and MUA on our concerns regarding the draft regulations and their implications.

You are encouraged to make a submission, no matter how brief and it should be in before 4 April 2011.   You can make a submission and get further information at the ADAS website.

The old saying it never rains it pours is certainly true in the diving sector.  Recent communication from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism  has brought into question the basis of the Commonwealth and ADAS agreement.  Fortunately, at a meeting with Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism Martin Ferguson, Deputy National Secretary Doleman raised the issue and thankfully the Minister demonstrated support for our concerns and since then the Department have been in contact with ADAS CEO Paul Butler and he will be meeting with the Department on March 17th with the intention of confirming and strengthening the terms of the agreement.  

Advise to members will be forthcoming following that meeting. In the meantime, please ensure you make a submission as soon as possible and send a copy to Amanda Rose at the National Office of the MUA.

The draft regs are downloadable here.