Simply put, our industry, particularly those working in small scale construction, renovations and outdoor work is ready to get back to work in a COVIDSafe way.  Over the past few weeks and days, I have taken the time to speak at length with many of you who work in this part of our sector and I know that you are tired, unhappy, and worried. I also know that you are doing everything you can to remain optimistic and keep your teams employed. But I also know that many of you cannot hold on for much longer. Please be assured that Master Builders Victoria did everything we could do to represent these views to the State Government in many, many conversations, especially in this past week and over this weekend.
 
It’s good news that, from 11.59 pm tonight, onsite work for certain low risk, outdoor work, including outdoor non-essential home maintenance and repairs will be permitted in Metropolitan Melbourne on premises that are occupied.  The document released by the government today can be found here and reads as follows in relation to outdoor work:
 
Permit groups of up to 5 workers plus supervisor to return to onsite work for certain low risk, outdoor work, including outdoor non-essential home maintenance and repairs.
 
This appears to be a positive step forward for those with small scale construction projects that require outdoor work.  We are seeking urgent clarification from the Government that this will mean up to 5 workers, including a supervisor, can get back to work on projects such as outdoor building, pool and spa installations, decking, landscape architecture, Dependent Person Units and painting etc.  We will provide more information in the coming days for further clarification as to what work is included within this provision.
 
Whilst we welcome this change, it really is time for the State Government to trust those working in small scale construction and indoor renovations to operate in a COVIDSafe way – as everyone successfully managed to do back in March. Our industry has the track record to do this and we’ve spent eight months going far beyond many others in proactively implementing safety measures.  
 
I know that many of you who have projects in occupied premises, or those struggling in small scale construction with the 5-worker limit, will be disappointed by the announcements today.  I assure you that Master Builders Victoria will not sit back; on your behalf, we will continue to advocate forcefully and tirelessly day-in, day-out to strike the important balance between virus control and everyone getting back to work.
 
And whilst these are unprecedented times for everyone in Victoria, with many of us having faced so much disruption to livelihoods that’s out of our control, we will continue to encourage the State Government to take swift action to restore consumer confidence. As always, the building and construction industry stands ready to lead our state through to recovery.
 
What we want now:
We hope and expect that the State Government can assure us that Victoria’s health system is now capable of supporting building and construction businesses to open in a COVIDSafe way.  We want to get the whole building and construction industry back to full-strength, and everyone back to work.
 
We want to see as much of the original Step 3 of the COVID-19 Roadmap implemented immediately. Our industry is COVIDSafe ready – we don’t need time to plan or scale-up – we can hit the ground running now.
 
We have today provided the following statement to media and the government:
 
Master Builders Victoria is encouraged by some elements of today’s announcements by the Premier but is still looking for further clarity on other parts of our industry that have been scaled back. CEO of MBV Rebecca Casson said:  
 
“Today’s announcement is good news for those who work in outdoor renovations, finally getting back to work on premises that are occupied from tomorrow, albeit in a limited fashion. But it is disappointing for businesses that have projects in occupied premises, or those struggling in small scale construction with the 5-worker limit, in that we have no further clarity on when they can get back to normal work.   
 
We are hoping that on October 26, or soon after, everything will go back to a COVIDSafe normal; it’s particularly important that indoor renovations businesses are given their opportunity to work. At no point during the entirety of the pandemic has this sector of our industry seen an outbreak of COVID-19.
 
As an industry, we have proven for eight months how safe we can be, proactively instituting a range of stringent safety measures that have resulted in zero cases on worksites for weeks. We have operated safely throughout and will continue to do so.
 
Our industry has adapted to become COVIDSafe, there have been no cases on sites in weeks, we don’t need time to plan or scale-up, we are ready.”

 
We know it continues to be a very difficult time for many of you, and we welcome all your feedback because it informs our advocacy. As always, our team has worked tirelessly this weekend to advocate on your behalf right up until the Premier’s announcement this morning.  We will continue to bring you the most up to date information and will also provide more information in the coming days if further clarification is needed for members.
 
In the meantime, please remember that all building and construction businesses require a high-risk COVIDSafe plan for onsite operations.  In addition, employers that require their staff to attend a worksite must issue them with a worker permit. It is important to note that issuing a worker permit is the employer’s responsibility. However, the dates on existing permits can be edited and added to by employers as required.
 
Our team will be available to take your calls on Monday and provide assistance -please call (03) 9411 4555 or email mbassist@mbav.com.au.


Please remember that you are not alone. We have several resources available for those that are finding it tough. We urge you to use the links below if you need further help: 
•          Incolin
•          Bluehats
•          Beyond Blue


Please stay well and safe.


Best wishes.
Rebecca