Shared labour pool eases staff shortages

It began as a suggestion from Great Lakes employers to address a shortage of aged care workers and has developed into a program with great potential for other industries and areas experiencing labour shortages.

The 'shared labour pool' was piloted in 2010, auspiced by Great Lakes Council, with excellent results and it is now operating on an ongoing basis, administered through a local not for profit community organisation, Great Lakes Community Resources.

The project provides an innovative way for local aged care employers to access a centralised pool of casual staff.

The success of the project relied on a close working collaboration between the local aged care industry, Local, State and Australian Government agencies, the community sector and local employees.

Council's Economic Development Manager Deb Tuckerman said there is a great spirit of cooperation in regard to developing employment opportunities and promoting economic development within the Great Lakes.

"This project has taken some time to come to fruition, and I'd like to acknowledge all the partners involved in this project for their commitment and vision," she said.

The system involves a joint advertising and recruitment process to attract casual aged care nursing staff into a centralised pool.

Available shifts are logged into an online database by the employer and employees are alerted to shifts via a text message on their mobile phone.

Employees then respond to the message through their phone, indicating whether they can fill the shift. The employer knows who will fill the shift when they receive an email from the online database.

The system can be used 24 hours a day, is cost effective and easy to use. The beauty of the system is that staff can work for a variety of employers, increasing their hours and also the variety of their work.

The 'try before you buy' aspect of the system means that staff looking for permanent work in the industry can get a variety of experience before they decide where they really want to work.

On the other side, employers can view casual staff in the workplace, so that when permanent positions arise, they have a better idea of whether someone will be suitable.

The project was recognised as one of the top three in Australia at the 2010 Economic Development Australia Awards in the 'Economic Development Partnerships' category.

Deb Tuckerman said there will always be a demand for aged care workers. "This is just another way of getting creative about meeting that need," she said.

"We have had inquiries from other communities and other industries wanting to apply the concept."

"Disability services, childcare and hospitality are just some of the industries which could benefit from setting up a shared casual labour pool."

WorkSafe award for the K-9 Kube

The K-9 Kube - a hydraulic lifter that safely loads and transports animals from ground level onto a transport vehicle - won the WorkSafe Award for Best Solution to a Workplace Health and Safety Issue in October.

The innovative device was designed by Swan Hill Rural City Council and local Swan Hill business CJM Attachments.

Regulatory Services Manager Harold Rovere said Council, together with CJM Attachments, was thrilled that the K-9 Kube received the award.

"It was truly a great honour to be recognised at the WorkSafe Awards and the K-9 Kube has certainly revolutionised the Occupational Health and Safety for our authorised officers who handle dogs and other animals," he said.

"What's more, this invention is a great example of how Local Government and business can work together to achieve a positive outcome for both industry and the community."

"Swan Hill Rural City Council is already using two of these animal-friendly devices, which eliminates the lift and bite risk and enables officers to handle animals in the safest possible way - reducing stress on both the operator/handler and the animal," he said.

Manager of CJM Attachments Chris Monk said it was terrific that a local Swan Hill invention had been recognised on a state wide scale.

"This award demonstrates what small, regionally based businesses can achieve and it is great that as a local business we have been able to work with Council to produce a device that will have a positive impact on the day-to-day safety of officers implementing local laws," he said.

Swan Hill Rural City Council Director Development and Planning Leanne Mulcahy praised the level of innovation from Council staff and CJM Attachments in finding a solution to a problem they saw in the workplace.

"Both the regulatory services team and CJM Attachments worked tirelessly to come up with this solution and didn't let any barriers get in the way.

"Together they sought solutions to any difficulties during the K-9 Kube's development and, on top of their other duties, oversaw the whole process from design right through to the finished product," she said.

"This demonstrates the strong commitment from our regulatory services team and CJM Attachments, and is great credit to all involved.

Swan Hill Rural City Council, together with other Local Governments, are now benefitting from this fantastic commitment and innovation."

For more information regarding the K-9 Kube, please contact CJM Attachments on (03) 5032 9329.