Member Alert – September 2021

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Member Alert header image

Executive Officer’s Report

Hello everybody I hope you are all surviving, if not thriving, in the current environment. This is a fairly long Member Alert, but it’s chock full of very helpful information that can help you navigate these complicated days.

Just a quick update from me on the bus safety sessions for  kids in regional schools.

It’s a big program (at the moment we’re envisaging 300 schools over as many years) which should get great visibility for our organisation.

Branding, videos and other collateral (brochures, etc) are almost complete for the two age groups, R-4 (Reception to Year 4) and Years 7-9 and I will be so excited to show them to you once they are signed off.

Presenter recruitment continues, we have a few on board in various parts of the State now, but we’re still looking for more. If you can recommend anyone it would be hugely appreciated. I have repeated the recruitment article from our last Member Alert below, just in case it brings someone to mind.

As mentioned last time, we will be counting on the support of our members – asking for drivers and owner/operators to come out to schools when we are visiting them and bring their buses – so that the kids get an understanding of the safety and emergency features of the buses they travel on every day.

I’ll have more for you very soon. Please get in touch if you want to talk about this – it’s an awesome initiative. Oh, and it has a name now … Bus SAfe. See what we did there?!

Contact me (Andrea Overall) at, or phone (08) 826901077.

Seeking presenters for Bus SAfe

Bus SA is looking to recruit presenters for its Bus SAfe program, visiting schools to teach regional kids about bus safety. We are looking for retired/part time 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 so I can reach out to them. We are seeking men and women. 

Contact me (Andrea Overall) at, or phone (08) 826901077.

New BIC Executive Director – Roz Chivers

Roz Chivers has been appointed Executive Director of the Bus Industry Confederation.

Formerly the Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director, Policy and Research at Australian Local Government Association, Roz has commenced as BIC Executive Director and will be located in Canberra.

Roz Chivers

Roz describes herself as a passionate, driven advocate, government relations and public policy practitioner with extensive experience in policy and program development and implementation, strategic partnerships, intergovernmental relations, and community engagement and communications.

Roz thrives on complex policy challenges which require a balance of strategic vision and attention to detail.

Her professional interests are in areas related to social and environmental justice, human services, urbanisation, local planning and regional development, the environment, sustainable agriculture, energy, food security and economic justice.

And now, public transport – bus, and coach style.

Roz, as the Executive Director of the Bus Industry Confederation, will lead the bus and coach industry into a post pandemic era with many challenges, none the least being restoring confidence in public transport and developing policy in an environment of vehicles powered by renewable energy and eventually powered autonomously by a computer.

Employer Guide on Covid-19 Vaccinations in the Workplace

On 16 August, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) released their Employers Guide on “Covid-19 Vaccinations and the Workplace”.

The BIC states it is one of the best they have seen in the COVID vaccination information space. They highly recommend any employer considering implementing vaccination programs or protocols in the work place to consider the information put forward in the guide.

The guide aims to help employers understand how to communicate about the vaccine, and what an employer’s obligations are when it comes to vaccinations for employees, based on employment law and workplace health and safety.

The guide also provides answers to some of the more common questions employers may have around the vaccine and its impact on workers and workplace.

Download the guideline.

If you still can’t get enough vaccination info, check out the APTIA Industrial Relations report, also in this Member Alert.

Fair Work Pay Calculator

You can check you’re paying correct minimum pay rates using the Pay and Conditions Tool on the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) website. It will help you to calculate base pay rates and other entitlements, including:

  • penalties (e.g weekend, early or late shifts and public holidays)
  • overtime
  • allowances
  • leave balances
  • notice period and redundancy pay.

You must pay minimum pay rates and entitlements.

Think you might have underpaid an employee?

Underpayments often happen because of a mistake or payroll error. Fixing it quickly and getting it right in future is important. Not following the law can lead to serious penalties, for you and your business.

 Follow the FWO’s step-by-step guide on how to fix an underpayment.

BIC Conference postponed

The BIC has regrettably made the decision to postpone the planned 2021 National Conference until 2022. It is impossible to reasonably forecast the likely trends of various Premiers and Chief Ministers on policies relating to lock-down and hot-spot zones.

Keep up to date with the increased road user charges with the ATO

From 1 July 2021, the road user charge increased from 25.8 cents per litre to 26.4 cents per litre. This means the fuel tax credit rate for liquid fuels used in heavy vehicles for travelling on public roads will change to 16.3 cents per litre.

From 1 July 2021, excise rates will also increase for biodiesel manufactured in Australia. This means the fuel tax credit rate for B100 used for all other business uses will change to 8.5 cents per litre.

For more information on fuel tax credits, go to the ATO website.

Soon to be released – 2020 report on the bus & coach industry

Data on the bus and coach industry is notoriously difficult to extrapolate from nationally available databases (such as ABS and BITRE). The BIC has put in a mammoth effort since mid-2019 to collate and interpret data and provide a true analysis of the bus fleet on Australia’s roads.

The BIC intends to release the industry report to members and federal parliamentarians in the next few weeks. The report has 6 major sections:

  • bus manufacturing
  • the fleet on the road
  • bus operations
  • bus passengers
  • long distance, tour and charter sector
  • industry areas of policy focus.

Until the report is released in full, you can get a sneak peek here.

Scania hybrid Adelaide Metro

Hybrid bus tech – greening the South Aussie student experience

South Australia’s public transport system is progressively becoming ‘greener’ and more energy efficient with hybrid energy technologies being adopted for 17 new Adelaide Metro buses – and more than half of the existing fleet of diesel trains it’s been announced, recently.

As Year 7 students transition into public high schools from next year they will benefit from a new fleet of hybrid electric buses to help get them there, according to the South Australian state government.

Forty five of the state’s 70 diesel rail cars will be upgraded with hybrid energy storage and recovery systems as part of a $10 million 2021/22 State Budget initiative aimed at reducing the fleet’s fuel consumption, noise, vibration and diesel emissions, the government explains.

The order of 20 new buses valued at $12 million – including 17 new hybrid electric buses and three new articulated diesel buses – will be supplied by contractor Scania Australia, and bodied locally by South Australian business Bustech, the Liberal government confirms.

The order forms part of the government’s commitment for new and expanded bus services to cater for an expected increase in demand from secondary school students next year, when Year 7 transitions into public high schools, it adds.

More to come

The first three of the new hybrid buses have already rolled off the production line and are now in service, the government confirms.

The remainder of the 20 buses, including the articulated vehicles, are expected to be built by December, 2021, and in service with Adelaide Metro in time for the commencement of Term 1, 2022, it states.

Member for Elder, Carolyn Power, says young people are increasingly interested in reducing their environmental footprint and living more sustainably.

“Our delivery of hybrid electric public transport options for school students demonstrates our commitment to joining them on this journey and working towards a greener future,” Ms Power said.

This article is used with permission of Australian Bus and Coach Magazine. It is an edited version. Photography courtesy Scania.

Do you have a plan?

Bushfire Emergency Management Planning

In consultation with the CFS, Bus SA has created a comprehensive suite of documents to help Members prepare for, and respond to, bushfires.

There are three Bushfire Emergency Management Planning (EMP) documents available in the suite:

  • Bushfire EMP overview and guide
  • Bushfire EMP Template
  • Example of a Bushfire EMP for a fictional organisation

They are available on the Members Only section of the Bus SA website.

If you have any issues accessing this section of the website, or have any questions about the Bushfire EMP documents, please contact Andrea (

Fire mitigation systems & bus fire evacuation protocols

Make sure your bus is safe with appropriate fire mitigation systems and drivers are trained in bus fire evacuation protocols

The recent bus fire in Campbelltown Sydney on Monday 16 August is an example of the importance of bus maintenance and driver/passenger evacuation protocols in the event of on-board bus fires. The OTSI has started an investigation and findings will be some time away yet. As a part of their investigation, OTSI will be looking at the engineering and maintenance history of the bus, the actions taken by the driver and emergency services.

The bus industry is a stand-out sector in our commitment to safety. Whilst many bus fleets are operating at reduced capacity, it presents a good opportunity to attend to engineering/maintenance advice provided by the OEM of the buses in the fleet and to ensure fire mitigation systems are installed and functioning.

There is a full suite of industry guidelines and advisories on best practice on a range of safety matters is available on the BIC’s website, including bus fire mitigation and bus fire evacuation protocols.

Latest Industrial Relations news from APTIA – what you need to know

APTIA – High Court ruling on the Rossato v Workpac case

The decisions handed down to Workpac by the Federal Court for both Skene (16 Aug 2018) and Rossato (25 May 2020) were the catalyst for significant changes in the treatment of casual employment in Australia. Changes that would see employed casuals with any expectation of continuing employment, could not be considered as a ‘casual’ and therefore eligible for entitlements such as paid personal leave, annual leave and other NES entitlements (such as leave without notice on termination and redundancy payments).

The outcomes of the Rossato and Skene cases held specific ramifications for the bus industry in particular our regional school bus driver workforce the bulk of which is casually employed.

On 4 August, the High Court handed down its decision on the case of Rossato v. Workpac. This decision allows employers to employ casuals, so long as the mechanisms provided in section 15A of the Fair Work Act are adhered to, i.e. at the commencement of employment, the casual employee has no firm advance commitment of ongoing work, and is able to accept or reject such work.

APTIA – Wage Rates

Public sector pay increases have crashed to a record 24-year low, while growth in the private sector remains “subdued”, according to the ABS.

The June quarter Wage Price Index shows that rates of pay excluding bonuses increased by 0.5% over three months and 1.9% annually in the private sector, seasonally adjusted.

In the public sector, rates increased by 0.4% in the quarter and 1.3% annually, the lowest yearly growth since the ABS started compiling the index in 1997.

Across the economy, rates grew by 0.4% and 1.7%.

Meanwhile, the ABS has updated its estimate of underlying WPI, which indicates that below-the-radar growth is dropping.

In the June quarter, underlying growth fell to 1.6% annually, against the unadjusted 1.8% recorded across the economy.

ABS head of prices statistics, Michelle Marquardt, in a statement, described the private sector growth recorded in the quarter as “generally subdued”.

The most recent Consumer Price Index release showed inflation spiked to 0.8% for the June quarter and 3.8% annually, but it is expected to return to trend levels.

APTIA – Vaccinations

The issue of vaccinations will pre-occupy the public transport industry for many months to come. The issues will be:

  • Mandating vaccinations for all drivers? Or will Government mandate vaccinations in public transport?
  • How to deal with drivers who do not wish to vaccinate. Can they still be employed if they are unable to drive?
  • What incentives to provide to get drivers to vaccinate or protections for drivers who have side effects from getting the job.

There is so much literature around at the moment but not real definitive answer to the questions other than the responsibility lies with the employers.

Set out below are some or the more recent developments.

Indemnity scheme for employers

The Federal Government has delivered on an indemnity scheme to protect employers who may face costly claims when they facilitate jabs in the workplace. The commitment reduces the risks and uncertainties businesses faced for implementing voluntary vaccination drives.

Employers have long advocated for indemnity protections so that employers would not be saddled with the costs from a reaction or injury caused by vaccination. ACCI has worked closely with the Australian Medical Association and the Insurance Council of Australia to secure this commitment as respective representatives of the medical profession, medical indemnity insurers and employers.

The Minister for Health and Aged Care has announced details of a no fault COVID-19 Vaccine Claim Scheme following extensive consultation with the peak medical, business and insurance sectors to ensure a comprehensive National Scheme. The Scheme will provide Australians with quick access to compensation for COVID-19 claims related to the administration of a Therapeutic Goods Administration approved COVID-19 vaccine delivered through a Commonwealth Government approved program.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the COVID-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme offers protection to Australians receiving a TGA approved COVID-19 vaccine, irrespective of where that vaccination occurs. “Side effects, or adverse events, from COVID-19 vaccinations can occur, but most are mild and last no longer than a couple of days.

The Scheme will cover the costs of injuries above $5,000 due to a proven adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccination. Claims will be assessed by independent experts, and compensation paid based on the recommendations. The cost of compensation payments under this Scheme will be fully funded by the Commonwealth and is designed to help the small number of people who unfortunately experience a moderate to significant adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine.

Advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman

The FWO is updating its information on workplace vaccinations amid continued legal uncertainty over the circumstances in which employers can make it mandatory for employees to have COVID-19 jabs.

The FWO website currently says the “overwhelming majority of employers should assume that they can’t require their employees to be vaccinated against coronavirus”, but there are “limited circumstances where an employer may require their employees to be vaccinated”.

The PM said the advice on the “reasonableness” of any direction to an employee extended to “four tiers” of employees:

  • First tier – for employees who are at risk of acquiring the virus through direct contact, such as workers in quarantine facilities who were covered by public health orders, the legal position is “very, very clear”. However, this tier may include other groups like airline workers.
  • Second tier – those working with vulnerable people such as in aged care.
  • Third tier – workers who face the public in their daily work. “So, we’re talking about retail, supermarkets, things of that nature, working in essential occupations where there’s a lot of contact.”; and
  • Fourth tier – such as public servants or those who are not in often close contact with others in the course of their work. “These basically work on a sliding scale, if you like, in terms of how the reasonableness test might be applied.”

A statement by National Cabinet said businesses have a legal obligation to keep their workplaces safe and to eliminate or minimise so far as reasonably practicable the risk of exposure.

“In general, in the absence of a State or Territory public health order or a requirement in an employment contract or industrial instrument, an employer can only mandate that an employee be vaccinated through a lawful and reasonable direction.”

“Decisions to require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees will be a matter for individual business, taking into account their particular circumstances and their obligations under safety, anti-discrimination and privacy laws.”