31 July 2020
Security industry needs overhaul
A significant number of Cumberland City residents work in the security sector. Being a security guard can be a thankless job where the individual is working in a dangerous environment for very low hourly pay. While there are some big and reputable security firms, which hold some very large corporate contracts, the realities are that the security industry is riddled with cowboy operators who have attained a Security Master Licence, with very little regulation or unionised influence to keep them in check.
In recent weeks we have seen the security industry come under intense scrutiny as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have heard stories about a lack of training provided to security guards, which has seen the subcontracting of jobs , employees being asked to provide their own equipment and guards behaving inappropriately with individuals staying in hotel quarantine. Some of these issues have been prevalent for many years. The fact that there appears to be some surprise at the problems exposed is very concerning.
I hold a security licence and know the industry very well. In the past, I’ve had employers that have made it a requirement for staff to buy their radio earpiece and pay for their own uniforms with their company branding. I’ve also seen firms subcontract a job to smaller, less qualified providers.
How the scheme works is very simple. A large security company often bids for a contract and strikes an agreement with the client on an hourly figure they will charge, per guard. The security company then engages a smaller sub-contractor to provide guards to a client, paying them significantly less than what was originally agreed to. A larger security company could be making money by not having to supply the guards directly and the security guard working for the smaller sub-contractor is the person missing out, often being paid a very low hourly wage and a set amount per hour to work Saturday and Sunday nights, well below the award.
Importantly, the client is not getting the standard of security they initially agreed to and deserve. In many cases, they are unaware that the original security provider has subcontracted their job to a smaller provider and this causes a safety issue as the standard and protection paid for, is not what they are getting.
COVID-19 has shone a light on some of these issues, which are not new. The security industry has been in need of a national approach and a regulatory body for quite some time. Now is the time to examine the industry as a whole, how it operates, and start developing a framework to deliver some much-needed reforms.
Impact of social housing
Cumberland City is home to a large number of social housing tenants. Eight per cent of all dwellings in Cumberland City are managed by Land and Housing Corporation.
A few weeks ago, I visited one of our community’s social housing complexes on Military Road, Guildford in Sydney’s west. There was rubbish piled everywhere, a lengthy maintenance backlog, and no shortage of stories about anti-social behaviour of some other residents living there.
Local residents deserve a decent quality of life and I’m happy to see that action has been taken to clean up the area and several maintenance issues have been addressed. Tenants are responsible for the upkeep of the area where they live, however, NSW housing authorities also have a duty of care to remove problematic tenants who engage in anti-social behaviour.
We need to ensure that Cumberland City is not only a place where people want to live, but a place where people can live comfortably and safely. It would appear that western Sydney is seen as an easy target to house vulnerable people and placing large numbers of vulnerable people in the same locations creates many problems local residents and Councils have to face. When providing social housing, complexes and tenants must be distributed more evenly across NSW.
With Education Week approaching, I want to thank our teachers, students and parents in the community. In Cumberland City, we will continue to advocate for schools, as a large Council and I encourage you to raise any issues with me directly if Council can be of assistance. Cumberland City Council offers a wide variety of free and low cost education programs and activities for schools all year round.
Council also supports student learning and development with free educational resources across our eight library locations, and access to online e-books, databases and homework help.
For more information, visit www.cumberland.nsw.gov.au