Dear Members,

I hope all is well with you under the circumstances.

Since my last advocacy update, there have been some significant changes, and I understand you may be feeling some anxiety over the current lockdown.

 

COVID-19 Lockdown 4.0

Mutual Recognition

Environment Protection Amendment Act

 

COVID-19 Lockdown 4.0

While we are pleased that our regional Victorian members are released from lockdown and that residential and commercial building activity, such as new homes, work on unoccupied premises and outdoor work on occupied premises, can continue in both regional Victoria and Melbourne, our thoughts are with our Melbourne members impacted by still not being able to work indoors in occupied homes.

On behalf of these members, we have continued to advocate to the State Government that – abiding by our COVID-19 industry guidelines - this work should be allowed to proceed in a COVIDSafe manner.

In the meantime, some members may be able to apply for financial assistance from the State Government’s circuit breaker Business Relief Package, which is predominantly geared towards hospitality and events, but may apply to some MBV members. This fund is aimed at those businesses unable to operate during this current circuit breaker lockdown and we encourage MBV small businesses members, who are not permitted to work, to register and apply.

In addition, the Federal Government has announced its temporary COVID disaster payment scheme. People living in hot spots aged over 17 who usually work 20 hours a week will receive $500 a week, and those who usually work less than 20 hours will receive $325. Eligible workers will be able to apply online from Tuesday 8 June 2021 via Services Australia.

To ensure our sector remains safe and open, please review the following best practices on site:

1. Register and use the Victorian Government QR Code Service.

2. Ensure that workers who have attended an exposure site or have COVID-19 symptoms stay home, get tested and isolate until they receive further instruction from DHHS.

3. Wear a mask at all times outside of your home, including on-site, unless an exemption applies to you.

4. Audit the ventilation in high-risk spaces, such as hoists, toilets, lunchrooms and change rooms.

5. Comply with the density quotient of one person per four square metres and make sure COVIDSafe cleaning processes and hygiene standards are in place.

6. Follow the COVID-19 industry guidelines.

Click here to download your COVID-19 Industry Best Practice on Site poster. 

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding the restrictions and your COVIDSafe obligations, I encourage each of you to please reach out to us on (03) 9411 4555 or at [email protected]m.au for technical advice from our specialist team. Please also ensure you stay up to date with the Government’s Circuit Breaker FAQ’s for the building and construction industry.

Please remember that, if you are not coping, that there are support services available to assist you. If you need help, please contact:

Incolink

Bluehats

Beyond Blue

The State Government has also launched its Partners in Wellbeing Helpline for Victorian business owners, employees, and business advisers. The 1300 375 330 Helpline is available seven days a week from 9 am to 10 pm on weekdays, and 9 am to 5 pm on weekends.

My update this week also contains some other important information for our members, so please continue reading!

Mutual Recognition

You may have heard that the Federal Government's Mutual Recognition Amendment Bill 2021 has been passed by the Senate. The reform enables registered workers to operate across jurisdictions without applying, paying for, and waiting for further registration to perform the same type of work in another State. 

Automatic mutual recognition (AMR) of occupational registrations is expected to make it easier and faster for skilled workers to work across borders, assist with natural disasters, and enable businesses to provide services more seamlessly across borders.   

MBV believes that AMR could be great for areas affected by natural disasters when a lot of trades are needed at once, and it may assist with trade shortages in some areas. AMR may also allow MBV members who work across borders (such as Albury/Wodonga) greater flexibility and reduce registration fees for members working in more than one State.   

However, we still have some concerns about AMR and our team has been working closely with the State Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to better understand the impacts of AMR on our members and our sector here in Victoria. One important area of activity includes discussion across jurisdictions to share information, including disciplinary approaches. 

MBV will continue to keep members informed of these changes as we work alongside the State Government, and our national counterparts, to further understand the impact of this Bill on our members and industry.   

For more information, click here.

Environment Protection Amendment Act

Another change that MBV members should be across is the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 (the Act), which comes into effect on 1 July 2021, after being postponed from last year.

The Act changes the focus from one of punishment for causing pollution, to requiring reasonable steps to be put in place to eliminate/reduce the risk. It also introduces the new general duty that requires "reasonably practicable" controls to be put in place that are proportionate to the risk of pollution and waste on site.

We have received some questions from members regarding the Act and we are seeking further clarity. We will provide another update as information comes to hand.

In the interim, should you have any questions, I encourage you to reach out to our Sustainable Building Services team. Our team can guide you on your site-specific obligations, training options and provide access to a free Environmental Management Plan. You can speak to our team on (03) 9411 4555 or at [email protected]bav.com.au.

As I write this update, I am hopeful that we can all resume catching up in-person again soon. In the meantime, please stay well and stay safe.

Best wishes, Rebecca