The long-awaited Coates Inquiry into the Victorian Hotel Quarantine Program recognises the efforts of security officers and broadly endorses what the Security Industry has been lobbying for over the past 20 years.
The Australian Security Industry Association Ltd (ASIAL) has welcomed the findings of the Coates Report saying that it highlights shortcomings in Victoria’s regulation of the Security Industry in areas such as sham subcontracting (and the exploitation of individual ABN holders), the use of student visa holders working as security officers and the need for greater transparency and efficacy in security procurement practices on the part of government.
The report also recognises inadequacies in training, supervision and safety equipment provided to security officers who quickly answered the Government’s call to serve in quarantine hotels and notes “That should have been a responsibility that remained with the State as the architect of the Hotel Quarantine Program.”
The Coates Report notes that “…there was no basis to find anything other than the overwhelming majority of security guards who worked in the Hotel Quarantine Program did so honestly and with goodwill. None of those workers went to work to get infected with COVID-19. However, systemic governmental failings led to problems”.
ASIAL Chief Executive Officer, Bryan de Caires said that the experience in other states was very different from Victoria. “In contrast to what Security Officers went through in Victoria, private security has been a key element in successful Hotel Quarantine programs in other states.”
He said that in New South Wales for example, where 890 security officers each day have been engaged in more than 24 hotels, the security industry has demonstrated its capability to support police and other government agencies to achieve successful outcomes. As identified in the Coates Report what was missing in Victoria was a lack of clear protocols and procedures supported by specific site instructions.
“It is encouraging that the Victorian Government has already responded to the Interim Report, but we are hoping for more significant reform of the Victorian Regulatory framework.”
In July 2020, ASIAL lodged a detailed submission to the Victorian Security Industry Inquiry, setting out areas where Victoria could make meaningful improvements to the way it regulates the Security Industry.
“ASIAL continues to press for nationally consistent regulatory standards across the entire country which will create an even playing field and give Australians an equally high standard of vital frontline security services,” said Mr de Caires.