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scroll down for the latest news from the weekly updates here:

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an update from Monit - compliance and certification

AUGUST, 2017

Monit is an online managed online Workplace Health and Safety Management System. They have kindly provided this update:

As big corporate muscles in on the Australian Small and Midsize Enterprise (SME) landscape there are some disturbing trends developing.

Their presence is to deliberately influence our business language and bring about legislation benefiting their shareholders at your expense. In particular, they have chosen a couple of words which the business world believe are facts.

COMPLIANCE
This word is used extensively by WHS provider companies selling you their wares but it has no influence on the courts determination. When one of these companies says you’re compliant, you’re not. The only thing your business is compliant with is the third party’s commercial product or service. You cannot be compliant with the Act. You can adhere to, and meet the Act, but at no time are you compliant.

CERTIFICATION
As with the word compliant, certification is also used extensively by WHS provider companies and, as with compliance, it has no influence in a court of law. Businesses paying excessive yearly fees to third party WHS companies in exchange for these certificates are simply throwing their money away on false hope. These certificates only guarantee you satisfy the provider’s commercial product and not the Act. The most common certification is one called AS4801. The AS stands for Australian Standard which is a designed to influence our thinking in believing Australia has a standard. Well, we don’t. We have an Act. In court standards are never referenced or accepted as sufficient evidence a company is doing the right thing. This play on words has confused an already confused market and yet businesses continue to accept it as a required WHS benchmark. 

Everything we do, and money we spend on our business on health and safety is to avoid having to answer to a magistrate. So here is the reality. In court, the Act is the only reference used. In court, the only accepted item to mitigate your culpability is evidence. This evidence must prove, that as a company, you have adhered to the Act. For good reason compliance and certification are never referenced.

Monit has defended the SME’s rights on many occasions by calling out large organisations who demand SME’s gain a certification number from these third party WHS products in order to satisfy a contract or tender.

Because the WHS Act is a statutory law no company, including government departments, can demand a business gain any form of certification to satisfy a tender or contract. This would remove the statutory rights of the business and render any issuing documents invalid.

If you have a tender or contract which demands a certification number Monit would be happy to hear from you.  
www.monit.com.au

Natasha Lobban - new President VFF Wangaratta AND DISTRICT branch
August, 2017

Not only is Natasha Lobban one of the youngest presidents of any VFF branch, she is a young mum, businesswoman and farmer. 

Aged just 31, she is mum to Harriet – eight months and is also a free-lance journalist and communications specialist. Together with her husband Dean, they run Angus beef cattle on 600 acres at Eldorado. 

Natasha was exposed to the VFF through discussions with Dean and his father and was keen to get involved in the branch as a way to honour her late father-in-law, Ian, who passed away four years ago.

Ian Lobban was a well-respected and extremely well-known member of the community and had been heavily involved with the VFF and other local committees for many years.

“We used to hear about the VFF over the kitchen table, so we became keen to get involved.” she said.

Natasha is passionate about continuing the good work the branch has been doing over the past three years under the leadership of Greg Mirabella.

This active and progressive VFF branch has been instrumental in campaigning for a number of issues within the local community and are proud of achieving some great outcomes, such as:

Re-introducing rural wards to the Rural City of Wangaratta, to give rural people more of a say at local council level
Upgrading the Wangaratta saleyards with a new roof
Campaigning successfully for a Senate red meat enquiry after the Barnawatha boycott.

Natasha acknowledges the former President as a great leader and huge support. As Greg is now taking over the Secretary’s role, previously held by Natasha, she is hoping to continue to benefit from his great knowledge and experience. 

The Wangaratta and District VFF branch is in a very strong position into the future with seasoned members, George  Dimopoulos and Marty Corboy, also remaining on the executive.

As for future issues, Natasha is keen to continue on with the campaigning for the future of the saleyards and its management, and is hoping to introduce more events geared to young farmers, to get them involved at a social level.

“I’m keen to have guest speakers who can give valuable business management and advice on innovative farming practices.

“I’d like to open the group up to members from all types of farming. There’s so many different industries in the area now. It’s important that everyone feels welcome to attend and that they can all get something out of the events”, she said.

Natasha also feels it’s important for the younger members of the community to get involved so that the knowledge and experience of our older farmers can be passed down to the new generation.

With Natasha at the helm and with the support of her seasoned executive, the Wangaratta and District VFF branch can be assured of a bright future.

PUT SAFETY FIRST AND GET YOUR REBATE today
JULY 2017

Quad bikes are the leading cause of deaths on farms in Australia. Don't delay, get a roll over protection device or a safer alternate side-by-side vehicle today, then apply for our Quad Bike Safety Rebate Scheme.

The scheme now has over 2000 approved applicants at a value of 1.8M. That's 2000 farmers who are now far safer when riding their quad bikes and 2000 families who feel their loved ones are more protected from a serious farm accident.

We strongly urge anyone who hasn't put in a claim as yet to send us their application.

If you are in doubt about why you should protect yourself, you only have to look at the recent spate on injuries and death throughout Australia - see Worksafe's recommendations here.

Get an OPD or a safer alternate side-by-side vehicle today - your family will thank you.

Background:
The Quad Bike Safety Rebate Scheme is administered by us on behalf of the Victorian State Government. We are proud that there are now 2,000 people in the state who have a far safer farming operation.

The scheme is scheduled to run for three years and has $6M allocated to rebates. We strongly urge all farmers, not just VFF members, to get in contact with us to see if you are eligible. The ex tax cost of the basic OPD is usually fully covered by the scheme. You can go online for further info at www.bequadsafe.com.au or email bequadsafe@vff.org.au or call 1300 945 030.

Apply for yours today and be quad safe.

Upgrades to the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program

Message from Dr Jane Weatherley, Chief Executive Officer, Integrity Systems Company  

I am writing to inform you of some important changes being introduced to enhance and strengthen the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program. Coming into effect on 1 October 2017, the changes will help to further safeguard Australia’s enviable status as a world leader in red meat safety, integrity and traceability. 

From 1 October 2017: 
1. Two new modules will become requirements of LPA accreditation: on-farm biosecurity and animal welfare practices. 

2. LPA-accredited producers will need to renew LPA accreditation every three years. As part of this, producers will need to complete an assessment and pay a $60 (plus GST) fee every three years. 

3. Online learning modules will be available to help producers understand their obligations.
 
4. A free electronic LPA National Vendor Declaration (LPA eNVD) will be available.  

The changes are designed to ensure Australian red meat maintains its global reputation and stays ahead of its competitors. They will ensure our integrity system continues to meet customer expectations, and will give producers the evidence to stand by what they sell. 

I hope the information below answers any questions you have, however please don’t hesitate to contact us on lpa@mla.com.au or phone the hotline 1800 683 111 for additional information. 
 
What do producers need to do? 
Before 1 October, LPA-accredited producers need to:
Familiarise themselves with the new biosecurity and animal welfare requirements. To do this it is recommended producers complete the learning modules available from July to ensure their on-farm systems meet these new program requirements.

From 1 October:
Complete the assessment and pay the $60 (plus GST) fee, when their three- yearly accreditation is due. Producers will be contacted approximately two months before their LPA accreditation is due and given instructions for working through the new process online. For some producers, this will not happen until 2019.

On-farm biosecurity requirements 
From 1 October 2017, accredited LPA producers will need to have a Farm Biosecurity Plan to:

• minimise the risk of introducing and spreading infectious diseases on their properties 
• manage and record the introduction and movement of livestock
• control and record people, equipment and vehicles entering the property, where practical and reasonable
• control and regularly monitor livestock health on farm
• ensure all livestock movements between owners are accompanied by an Animal Health Statement (or equivalent).  

Those producers who have developed a Farm Biosecurity Plan as part of their approach to Johnes's Disease (JD) management under the J-BAS program can use that Farm Biosecurity Plan to meet LPA program requirements. A specific learning module to guide producers through LPA’s on-farm biosecurity requirements will be available in July. 

Producers looking for more information on Johne’s disease management and transitional arrangements for J-BAS are urged to visit the Animal Health Australia website, who are delivering the changes on behalf of Cattle Council of Australia.

More information: 
Website: LPA biosecurity requirements 
Factsheet:
LPA biosecurity requirements  
A farm biosecurity plan template
 
Frequently asked questions

Animal welfare requirements
From 1 October 2017, LPA accredited producers will need to demonstrate that their on-farm handling of livestock is consistent with the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines (S&Gs).

Those responsible for livestock management will need to have a copy of the S&Gs, be familiar with its content, complete the LPA learning module (or equivalent training), and advise and oversee others handling livestock in a manner that is consistent with the S&Gs.

More information: 
Website 
Standards and Guidelines
LPA animal welfare requirements
Frequently asked questions

Assessment and accreditation 
From October 2017, producers will be required to renew their LPA accreditation once every three years, and will need to complete a short assessment to do this. 

New animal welfare and biosecurity learning modules will become a part of the LPA Learning from October 2017. These are available online but also in hard-copy, for those producers who can't access the LPA learning online, at a cost of $20 plus GST. 

Renewing the accreditation of the 215,000 livestock producers currently involved in LPA will be a gradual process, with all producers expected to complete the assessment and renew their accreditation by 2020. As previously mentioned, producers will be contacted approximately two months before their LPA accrediation is due and given instructions for working through the new process online. 

More information:
Frequently asked questions
LPA Learning modules

We’re delivering this information to you from Meat & Livestock Australia's Integrity Systems Company. If you would like assistance with these important changes, including completing a farm biosecurity plan, we can help. Please call Catherine James on 03 5444 9702 or email lhbv@vff.org.au.

FAIR WORKERS APP
june 2017

A new app just released by the Fair Work Ombudsman aims to prevent exploitation of young and migrant workers. ‘Record My Hours’, will help workers keep a record of their hours worked.  The app uses geofencing technology to register when the workers arrive at work and when they leave.

The aim is to tackle the persistent problem of underpayment of young workers and migrant workers around the country.
 
However, this app has a number of features that will also benefit the business community. It allows rosters and work-related notifications and reminders to be imported to a worker’s phone, reducing the number of late starts and absenteeism. The app is also available in 12 different languages which is particularly useful for those members who employ workers from migrant backgrounds. According to the Ombudsman, businesses can use the app to complement their own records, rather than replace them entirely.
 
Members are reminded that workplace laws require employers to keep accurate records of the hours their employees have worked. The Fair Work Ombudsman issues Infringement Notices to employers for contraventions of record-keeping and pay slip laws. Thus it is important to be proactive in your record keeping. If you fail to meet your legal obligations as an employer, this app is a tool that may be used by your employees to substantiate any claims.
 
For assistance regarding this matter, please contact the VFF Workplace Relations Department on 1300 442 481.