Every year the ARCIA committee get together to discuss the previous year’s activities and to plan works for the coming year. This year the committee met in a virtual Zoom conference instead of the usual group meetings. Despite the challenges that a virtual format brings, we achieved a lot during the four committee sessions.
Session 1: ARCIA’s Response to the Bushfire Royal Commission Report
The first session was based around the ARCIA response to the findings and recommendations from the Bushfire Royal Commission, in particular recommendations 6.3 (cross-border communications interoperability) and 6.4 (implementation of the PSMB service).
OUTCOME: the Association prepared a submission and sent it to the Minister for Emergency Management and the Minister for Communications.
In broad terms, ARCIA’s submission recommended –
- That the Australian Government allocate suitable VHF High Band spectrum for use by the various volunteer fire services around Australia, with common channel identifiers so that the fire services can have communications interoperability when they cross state borders. It was also suggested that these radio channels could be used for any emergency situation where there needs to be communications between various agencies.
- With the Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB) discussions going on for almost eight years now (that ARCIA is aware of), we recommended that the Australian Government should take the lead and develop the PSMB service planning on the public carriers as per the Productivity Commission findings from 2017. The Commonwealth should then negotiate with the public carriers for both public safety access as well as ensuring that these critical communications have the highest degree of cyber-security. The Commonwealth should work with the jurisdictions to get public safety agencies to develop ‘user profiles’ on their anticipated use of the service, and this should be part of the template utilised for network performance and access costs. The ‘user profiles’ should include normal operations, minor incident estimates and major incident estimates, to enable proper planning from the carriers. We believe that there are compelling reasons for the Commonwealth to take the lead on this, and then to work with the states once the frameworks have been outlined.
Session 2: Technical Training – Replacing The Defunct Radio Trades Training From TAFE
This session was focussed in particular on the training required to replace the defunct radio trades training from the TAFE systems, and how to further develop the skills matrix from the 2020 ARCIA Planning Days in Brisbane. FYI: the skills matrix includes the type of information that technicians need to know as part of their technical training (you can see this skills matrix in the back of the 2020 Annual Report).
OUTCOME: The skills matrix was refined and a proposed curriculum framework was developed as a guide for technical training.
It is now the intent of ARCIA to provide the content for that curriculum, and to plan how to offer it to apprentices and mature-age technicians as an industry-recognised skill. This is a great initiative by the ARCIA committee!
Session 3: Professional Development Training (PDT)
This session was based on PDT and ARCIA events. Over the past 18 months we have offered half-day PDT opportunities at most of our industry events: eight opportunities in total and during that time we have had a total of 245 individuals trained.
OUTCOME: To continue the PDT program and increase the opportunities with 2-day training sessions in conjunction with our regular networking events.
This will mean that we will have a minimum of four, half-day PDT sessions in each location this coming year. We have also looked at new content for these – if you have a topic you believe would be good for inclusion in the ARCIA PDT program, please contact us – all suggestions will be considered.
With this increase in training being considered, our format now will be as follows: Training day with 2x half-day sessions, followed by the regular ARCIA networking dinner that same evening. The following day is the final training day with 2x half-day sessions again.
We hope that this will give the opportunity for more technical staff to be involved, as it will lessen the number of technicians out of any workplace and so will permit better uptake of training. The dates for each location have been posted to the ARCIA website events calendar (details TBC).
We will again be doing training in Melbourne in conjunction with Comms Connect this year (mid-October). Further details will follow both from ARCIA and Comms Connect.
Session 4: Accreditation, Membership and Marketing
The fourth and final session was a review of the ARCIA Accreditation program, membership and also our marketing plans. There was a lot of ground covered in these discussions and there will be more to follow.
OUTCOME: We are looking to expand our membership and influence by marketing the Association and our training initiatives into other industries, while ensuring that we are offering value to our members.
The relevant sub-committees have all gone away with several key items to consider for the coming year.