Member Alert – June 2021

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Bus Safe SA – a homegrown initiative

Of late there have been several incidents involving children and buses, including a tragic death in February 2021. Unlike other states in Australia, SA does not have a dedicated program to promote school (or commuter) bus safety to kids.

To rectify this, Bus SA, with the support of the Department for Education, is developing safety sessions for regional schools. To start with there will be sessions aimed at two age groups, R-4 (Reception to Year 4) and Years 7-9. Presenters will visit schools for a 30 minute in-class session, then spend 20 minutes outside with a bus learning its safety features (R-4). Students in Years 7-9 will have a 30-45 minute, in-class session.

The program will be based on an existing – very successful – Victorian model, and we are deeply thankful to Bus Vic for their generosity and support as we work on bringing their program into an SA context.

We intend to get up and running quickly, and hope to have the R-4 sessions running in schools by Term 4. The Years 7-9 sessions should follow shortly thereafter.

We hope to have the support of our members with the Bus Safe SA program. We will be asking for drivers and owner/operators to come out to schools when we are visiting them – and to bring their buses – so that the kids get an understanding of the safety and emergency features of the buses they travel on every day. We’re also looking presenters – see the next article for info.

We’re hiring! Seeking retired drivers and operators

Bus SA is looking to recruit presenters for its Bus Safe SA program, visiting schools to teach regional kids about bus safety. We are looking for retired bus drivers, or operators, or people with history and knowledge in our industry – women and men – who live in regional areas across the State.

The work will be on a casual basis, possibly working 1-2 days a week, depending on the rollout plan and the geographic region we will be presenting in. Presenters will need their own reliable vehicle to travel out to schools in remote areas.

They need to be:

  • knowledgeable and passionate about the bus industry
  • comfortable getting up and talking in front of large groups of kids
  • a warm, trustworthy, engaging, entertaining speaker, able to hold the attention of the room
  • able to hold Q&A sessions with the kids and answer unpredictable questions
  • comfortable with technology
  • organised and able to adjust to changing circumstances on the fly (i.e. technological issues, buses not turning up, weather events, the odd tantrum, etc)
  • holders of the appropriate working with children checks (though if lapsed we can assist you in re-applying)

We need presenters right across the State who will love this work and develop a real sense of ownership over the program.

Must like kids!

If you know someone who fits this description, please contact me (Andrea your friendly Exec. Officer) so I can reach out to them. We are seeking women presenters as well as men. 

Andrea Overall

Award wages increase by 2.5% from 1 July

The Fair Work Commission has handed down its minimum wage determination for 2021/ 2022.

Set out in the pdf are the new wage rates for those awards below, which commence from 1 July, 2021 and which reflect annual wage increases of 2.5%.

  • Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2020
  • Clerks – Private Sector Award 2020
  • Vehicle Repair, Services and Retail Award 2020
  • Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2020.

The casual loading remains at 25%, and allowances have also increased.

State Budget SA, funds for buses and services announced

As you all know, the State Budget was handed down this week and among the usual grab bag of offerings were these two, specifically related to our industry.

New and expanded school bus service

The budget says: This initiative provides $12.0 million investing expenditure over two years for 20 new buses and $497 000 in 2021-22, increasing to $1.0 million per annum (indexed) from 2022-23 to operate new and expanded bus services to cater for the year 7 transition to high school from 2022.

An additional $388 000 in 2021-22, $844 000 in 2022-23 and $450 000 in 2023-24 of operating expenditure has been provided to lease buses to service the new schools in Aldinga and Angle Vale with staged enrolments commencing from 2022. 

The level of ongoing services required at the new schools will be reviewed as staged enrolments progress and as all year levels commence operating.

Bus SA says: More bus services are always beneficial to our community, particularly when supporting our kids to get to and from school. We assume these vehicles could also be used to provide further services to support the local area when not in use for schools. We encourage the Treasury to find ways to support extra kms of service to enable vibrant and active local communities. Helping people get around through public transport has many benefits.

Sustainability payment for country bus services

The budget says: This initiative provides $4.2 million in 2021-22 for assistance to country bus operators. This builds on assistance provided in 2020-21 which acknowledged the need to support these impacted regional transport services during COVID-19 restrictions. This further support will ensure core public transport links across regional South Australia continue to be accessible to regional communities. 

The South Australian Public Transport Authority is currently undertaking a review of regional passenger transport services to identify strategies to improve the long-term sustainability of these services. This initiative is funded from the COVID-19 Support Fund.

Bus SA says: This is welcome ongoing support for our regional operators.  Furthermore, we hope that the review of regional passenger transport services leads to genuine service improvements that meets the needs of our regional communities. It is genuinely possible for South Australia to achieve much better mobility outcomes for regional South Australian than those currently in place, provided there is the political will to address the challenge of existing services.  We thank Government for taking interest in this important work.

Also see the New and Expanded School Bus Services article below, reprinted with permission from Australian Bus and Coach magazine.

Industrial relations update

By Ian Macdonald, National IR Manager, APTIA

The review of the PVTA

A hearing is set down in the Fair Work Commission for this week (24 & 25 June), to consider changes to the modern awards which will eventually involve an application by the FWC to amend the Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2020 and the other relevant manufacturing and Clerks awards.  

The cause of the review is to ensure that the modern awards do not conflict with the recent definition of ‘casual employment’ and are ‘in sync’ with the ‘casual conversion’ clause now included in the national employment standards. 

Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021

The Government has now introduced the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill into Parliament, which forms part of the Government’s response to the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Respect@Work report.

The Bill was introduced into the Senate on Thursday 24 June and was immediately referred to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 6 August 2021.

It is anticipated that the Bill will then return to the Senate for debate in the August sitting weeks of Parliament.

The Bill seeks to make changes to the Fair Work Act (FW Act), the Sex Discrimination Act (SD Act) and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act. The Bill seeks to make a number of positive changes to unfair dismissal laws, including by amending the FW Act to clarify that sexual harassment can be conduct amounting to a valid reason for dismissal in determining whether a dismissal was harsh, unjust, or unreasonable.

Summary of key proposed changes employers should be aware of:

  1. Unfair Dismissal – The Fair Work Act would be amended to clarify that sexual harassment can be conduct amounting to a valid reason for dismissal in determining whether a dismissal was harsh and unjust. It is proposed by the Government that the definition of ‘serious misconduct’ in the Fair Work Regulations be amended to include sexual misconduct.
  2. Stop Sexual Harassment Order – The Fair Work Act would be amended to make it clear that the Fair Work Commission could make an order for sexual harassment to stop without the need to prove that such sexual harassment was repeated to qualify for such an order as with bullying and harassment orders, already in existence.
  3. Sex-based harassment prohibited – The Sex Discrimination Act would define sex-based harassment as any unwelcome conduct of a seriously demeaning nature by reason of a person’s sex, in circumstances which a reasonable person would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would have been offended, humiliated, or intimidated. Note that an employer or even an employee can be vicariously liable for the conduct of their workers if they have a supervisory role if they aided, abetted, or permitted the continuation of the behaviour.
  4. Miscarriage Leave – The Bill provides that a woman who has experienced a miscarriage and their partners will have access to two days of compassionate leave.

The Government has introduced the Bill in a challenging environment, including, in the wake of calls from the Union movement for the implementation of a number of other recommendations in the Respect@Work report, such as a positive duty for employers, to eliminate sexual harassment, to be added to the Sexual Discrimination Act. 

Next Steps 

The Bill has been referred to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 6 August 2021. APTIA’s Workplace Equality Advisory Group will meet to consider whether to seek amendments to the Bill or to support its passage. IWG members will determine APTIA’s future strategies with the Bill. 

Psychosocial hazards 

Safe Work Australia has recently introduced model work health and safety regulations and code of practice for psychosocial hazards. This is a new battleground for employers and is designed to ensure that employers have the appropriate control measures in place to deal with the psychosocial risks associated with psychological injury.

At the moment, it is not clear what psychosocial hazards are, and efforts are being made to understand where Safe Work is heading. 

SA Budget – new and expanded bus services in detail

THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN Liberal government is committing $17.3 million for expanded school bus services, in addition to $42 million for “urgent” capital works for specific schools, it announced recently

In the State Budget 2021-22, $17.3 million has been allocated for new and expanded Adelaide Metro bus services to cater for the significant number of extra students set to attend secondary schools due to the transition of Year 7 into high school, and the opening of two new state schools in Aldinga and Angle Vale, the government explains.

School bus funding includes:

  • $12 million over two years for 20 new school buses
  • $497,000 in 2021-22 increasing to $1 million per year from 2022-23 to operate new and expanded bus services to support the Year 7 transition to high school from 2022
  • $388,000 in 2021-22, $844,000 in 2022-23 and $450,000 in 2023-24 to lease buses to service two new state schools – Aldinga Payinthi College and Riverbanks College B-12 – with the level of ongoing services required at the new schools to be reviewed as staged enrolments progress, the Government states.

“The Marshall Liberal Government is committed to providing school students with safe and reliable bus services, and improving and modernising our public transport system,” said Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Wingard.

“This initiative will make sure our system can cater for the increased commuter demand during the peak morning and afternoon periods, minimising the impact on the broader network and other patrons.”

The 20 new buses will be delivered by January, 2022, the State Government confirms.

A welcome commitment

Bus SA president Stephen Lucas says the Government’s announcement is most welcome.

“It’s pleasing to see more support to help our industry meet the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis,” said Lucas.

“The school segment of the bus industry does the hard yards, carrying South Australian students safely to and from school every day.”

“School buses are a particularly vital service in many rural communities where increased government support is sorely needed.”

“Bus SA looks forward to working cooperatively with the Government to make sure expenditure goes to areas where resources are most needed, and where there will be maximum value for the public and the State,” he said. 

Capital works

Five schools and two preschools are receiving a share of the $42 million component for urgent capital works as part of the state government’s ongoing commitment to improve education infrastructure across the state, it explains.

Along with works at Eastern Fleurieu R-12 School at the Langhorne Creek campus, Elliston RSL Memorial Children’s Centre and Salisbury East High School announced in recent weeks, four new projects were announced for the first time yesterday.

Projects at Seaview Downs Primary School and Pimpala Primary School in Morphett Vale have budgets of $15 million and $12 million, respectively, to replace aged facilities well past their use-by date with contemporary learning areas that offer flexibility and opportunities for collaboration, as well as new administration areas, the SA government says.

Also $5 million is budgeted for Nailsworth Primary School to upgrade an existing building, which will provide additional capacity for growing enrolments, it states.

Balharry Kindergarten in Lucindale will receive $500,000 to extend the preschool, which will allow for the accommodation of rural care in the one location, it adds.

Better services

“This $42 million prioritises funding for urgent capital works as part of the record $1.3 billion the Marshall Liberal Government is investing into public education infrastructure across the state to provide our students and staff with state-of-the-art teaching and learning facilities,” said Premier Steven Marshall.

“Our Budget for a stronger South Australia is creating jobs, building what matters and delivering better services to further secure our state’s growing global reputation as one of the world’s safest and most attractive places to live, work and raise a family.”

Minister for Education John Gardner said: “These works have come about because we continue to listen to our education communities who are passionate about their schools and preschools and access to high quality learning environments.”

“South Australian jobs will continue to be supported through this funding by creating work for trades, who then bring business into these communities.”

“Our children deserve great facilities for their schooling and these projects will deliver that while also providing jobs for South Australians in these communities.”

Reprinted with permission from Australasian Bus and Coach magazine.