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.