A bitter internal dispute at the Safety Institute gets a public airing

A member of the Safety Institute of Australia, Sue Bottrell, has taken offence at some of the content in this SafetyAtWorkBlog article.  She has claimed, in a proposed legal action against me, that my blog article, based on an article written by Gavin Waugh and published in Australian Safety Matters Magazine, has defamed her.

Similar legal action is being taken by her against Gavin Waugh, who has indicated that he will be contesting the accusations.

I regret that any element of the SafetyAtWorkBlog article was able to be misinterpreted and caused offence to Sue Bottrell.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia

14 thoughts on “A bitter internal dispute at the Safety Institute gets a public airing”

  1. In no way associated with any particular organisation I am attempting to write a paper on professional association effectiveness.I have approached a number of OHS, Training & H.R. associations in Australia and overseas for input.No organisations or individuals will be identified, comments from individuals will be confidential,I am after constructive comment to produce a helpful, practical report which will be sent to organisations that participated and anyone who wants it.
    If it is your thing you could send me an e-mail to fgrobotham@gmail.com with anwsers to the following-
    What makes your organisation effective / ineffective
    What do you like / dislike about your organisation
    How does your organisation ensure it meets member needs
    How does your organisation ensure good communication
    You may wish to comment on leadership
    General comments
    If you do not feel like anwsering the above just respond in a way that makes sense to you.
    Note-There is no need to identify your organisation
    A draft of about 10 pages of where I have got so far is available if you want it.
    George Robotham

  2. I endorse Jemma Johnson\’s comment in respect to David Skegg\’s. Gavin Waugh\’s article carefully details his experiences, but Skegg\’s response is outright dismissal with no supporting argument or refutation of Gavin\’s or Kevin\’s claims. As has been the near universal experience of the past year or more, there is a culture within the SIA National Board of Management of squashing dissent and refusing to discuss matters of reform or public interest to SIA members.

    The proposed corporatisation is hidden behind a veil of secrecy as all committee members are required to sign a deed of confidentiality or else be excluded from any discussion, and overt threats of sanction are made against long-serving committee members who make any public statements about it. These are not idle threats, as can be seen by Gavin\’s experiences, and of Phil Kamay\’s.

  3. The Worksafe issue of recognition of IOSH should be a formality considering the strict membership conditions of competence through education,training and experience that is required by the said organisation obviously if there was a formal Australian organisation arrangement.
    Although I would hope that the SIA would resolve its internal problems and use the IOSH model for Australian circumstances especially the competency framework provided by the IOSH National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health(NEBOSH).NEBOSH has international recognition of being of a very high standard in safety professional competence which we would do well to mirror in Australia.

    Stan Sexton MA CMIOSH FSI(W)A CSPA
    Corporate Manager Safety
    Public Transport Authority

  4. Kevin
    Many thanks for your prompt response and I share your sentiments.
    The Safety profession needs a national /state voice which it is not getting at present due to the current internal strife circumstances in the SIA. I think the OHS Ombudsmen is agood idea but as a contigency if the SIA issue is not resolved I am prepared to approach IOSH to assist Safety Professionals in Australia create a solid platform/foundation for the profession in the future.

    1. Earlier this year, I believe, an IOSH representative discussed with me the establishment of a formal IOSH chapter in Australia. My understanding is that that initiative has stalled but the rep told me that there were around 140 IOSH members working in Australia at the time. A good pool of professionals I would suspect.

  5. I guess I have to add my support for Kevin Jones here. In all the time I have known him and been reading his articles, I have never found anything said or reported to be unsubstantiated in another source. In all dealings with Kevin I have found him to be truthful and the rarest commodity, ethical and bound by moral guidance in all things.
    I commend you for having the courage to put those things into words that others cannot for fear of severe retribution.
    Thank you

  6. Speaking as a safety professional of 32 years I find it the current internal dispute situation involving the Safety Institute of Australia very dissappointing.When considering the current safety climate in Australia with the introduction of new Legislation ie Health and Safety and Rail Safety in my view a forward thinking institute would be working with Federal And State Governments on the implementation of the new legislation organisation and arrangements as the Institute of Occupation Safety and Health does in the UK.
    There is a great window of opportunity for the Institute to be involved in the development of national safety policy especially considering our current safety record in Australia needs to improve ie 2005/06 data 37.8 billion dollars incured in accident/ill health during employment and 9.7 billion dollars on Workers compensation which is a massive economic and Humanitarien burden on the country.I would recommend the Institute follows the IOSH model which has proved to be successful now over many years as the current internal strife will not benefit the safety subject or safety professionals but cause self destruction.Currently in Western Australia there is a shortage of qualified and competant safety practioners and I would strongly recommend the Institute starts getting involved in national/state policy to assist in improving professional standards and associated education/training programmes and try to resolve the current internal disputes.I will be speaking about safety culture at the forthcoming Worksafe conference on the 26th October and I will be emphasisng the importance of the Safety Professionals strategic contribution with there respective employers in achieveing the said objective. The current internal strife in the Institute will not benefit anyone so I would recommend an independant arbiter be appointed to confront the dispute issues and consider using the IOSH model in the future.
    Stan Sexton MA CMIOSH FSI(W)A CSPA
    Corporate Manager Safety
    Public Transport Authority
    Government of Western Australia

    1. Stan, I also see the need for an active profession to put it\’s case for the significance of OHS particularly as new laws have taken Australian OHS well beyond the 9 to 5, and the factory fence. The significance of the new laws has not been sufficiently acknowledged by the profession and the need for an integrated approach to safety has been written about elsewhere on this blog.

      Your mention of IOSH is timely as it has recently been getting an audience from the UK government for \”accredited\” OHS professionals. The process of establishing the credentials and process with other OHS bodies and then sharing the administration shows the shortcomings of Australia\’s HaSPA program. More information on the IOSH program is available at the IOSH site.

      A process for independent registration of OHS qualifications has been offer to the SIA several times to my knowledge and I think the IOSH push should give the Australian professionals some inspiration.

      On your mention of an independent arbiter, I believe this was attempted. Elsewhere in this blog I recommend the establishment of an OHS Ombudsman to deal with a range of OHS matters including an oversight role on the profession. It\’s a suggestion that seems to be urgently required.

  7. Kevin: You are a member of the SIA, and you appear, in my view anyway, to show little regard to what yoou otherwise espouse. Your comments on your blog are, at best, mischievous, and from my knowledge, inaccurate. If you purport to be a journalist, you should at least check the facts before publication.

    1. Thanks to all those members and safety professionals who have contacted me today in support of this article.

      I don\’t purport to be a journalist and have taken pains to correct this misunderstanding whenever it occurs. I write and I try to follow the media code of ethics as my union membership requires and that I carry around in my wallet.

      In terms of inaccuracies, I have provided a link to the original article by Gavin Waugh and all readers are encouraged to read the article on which my comments are based.

      I take pride in allowing comments in this blog that are as critical of my opinion as they may be approving. I would ask of any commentators to this blog that, if they are involved with any of the issues raised in my articles that they state their involvement, just as recently, an alternative position on firefighter PPE was posted to this blog.

      I strongly encourage anyone who is willing to comment and correct my information to provide their evidence or their opinion on the issues so that readers can gain the best and broadest understanding of issues.

  8. Gavin Waugh has courageously put the issues afflicting the SIA out for scrutiny by the members who are being kept in the dark by the national office and board of management. Members need to sit up and take notice before it is too late, vote down the proposed restructure. The tail should not be allowed to wag the dog. The executive has assumed too much power and influence over the hapless president.
    Members need to step up and take control of the organisation which purports to represent their interests.

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