A new safety professional association for Australia

It looks like the safety profession in Australia is to become lively with competition coming from a new starter.  SIWA Limited became a reality this week.  SIWA describes itself as :

“…a new professional association and Australia’s first truly National ‘Member’ Organisation dedicated to providing professional support for, and service to, persons and corporate entities engaged across the Australian Safety and Health industry.”

Those in the safety industry in Australia would perceive some “digs” at the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) in the quote above and this is not surprising as some the SIWA’s leadership comes from former SIA members in Western Australia.  However, safety professionals should embrace the chance for diversity and choice in their professional membership options.

The Safety Institute has existed for over 60 years and continues to struggle to gain the recognition and influence it believes it deserves.  Recent indications are that the SIA has improved its organisational and strategic processes but whether this much-needed change is sustainable is hard to determine as the SIA has misfired several times on similar platforms in the recent past.

SIWA Limited has the challenge of explaining its existence.  Why should safety professionals join the SIWA?  The motivation to join must come from more than dissatisfaction with the Safety Institute.  SIWA must make a case for its membership and services to be equal to, or better than, those already in existence.

It also must differentiate itself in the eyes of the policy- and decision-makers of government.  The SIA has not had the lobbyist profile it desires but its long existence provides a distinct advantage.  The SIWA must establish an identity of its own.  Information on the SIWA’s plans is very scant at the moment so it is difficult to determine its financial resources or its skill level.

Similarly the SIA must understand that the safety profession in Australia is sufficiently large and diverse to allow for competition.  It must respond without being narky.  In fact, it would be in everyone’s best interest if the two organisations could meet and establish, if not a working relationship, and understanding.  Those organisations who best succeed are those who display equanimity and dignity in dealing with competitors.

Kevin Jones

Categories business, OHS, politics, Professional standards, safety, UncategorizedTags , ,

6 thoughts on “A new safety professional association for Australia”

  1. I couldn\’t agree more Kevin. All streams of media are relevant in today\’s technology savy environment and as a professional organisation, these forms of communication must maintain the high standards expected of that organisation. Having spent a considerable amount of time working in WA, my concern is the very point that you raised. Sandgropers tend to be very parochocial and a lot of organisations formed in the west tend to remain focused on local issues. Apart from your blog, I have not heard anything about SWIA so will wait and see what actions they take to grow their association.

  2. Kevin, it was only a matter of time that the apparently disgruntled former SIA members in the west went their own way. The SIA has certainly had its challenges in recent times and unfortunately a number of `stouches\’ have taken place in the public forum (who can forget the various SMS received by all members). Some would argue that competition can only be a good thing and it often results in improved services. It will be interesting to see how SWIA position themselves in the OHS scene.

    1. It seems that SIWA have already jumped ahead of the SIA in establishing a corporate structure of accountability but small organisations have a distinct advantage.

      A challenge for SIWA is to become the national organisation it desires. How can it provide a similar level of service to clients on the east coast that it offers members on the west?

      This is a similar challenge to that of IOSH. IOSH has over 100 active members in Australia but the closest member support or activity group is in Hong Kong. At the moment Australian IOSH members have to accept less professional support than UK members and yet pay the same level of fee.

      Communications technology must be part of any national or international association\’s member support strategy. It is reasonable to expect electronic communication from one\’s professional body when the technology already exists on one\’s mobile phone, and desktop computer. Webcasts, podcasts, video links…. all of these are readily available but still poorly applied.

  3. This should be interesting. Agree with your final paragraph Kevin – the most interesting thing will be SIA\’s reaction. Even if in a couple of years time we are left with only one organisation again, the competition will have made that one much improved.

    I like your optimism about them meeting and talking, but I suspect like competitors in any business this might be unlikely.
    Cheers,
    Jamie

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