Rural council gets top safety accreditation
The small, rural Flinders Shire Council in western Queensland is one of only a few councils across Australia that has received Federal Safety Accreditation from the Australian Government.
The Flinders Shire is a remote area that has been plagued by severe drought for nearly a decade, with the businesses of its main township, Hughenden, heavily affected by an economic downturn.
As a result, the Council has had to be resourceful to keep both the community alive and the locals employed.
The Council’s Director of Engineering, Hari Boppudi, together with Flinders Mayor Jane McNamara, invested heavily in terms of human resources to put together a development team that would work together through the accreditation process.
The Federal Safety System requires council to meet rigorous criteria for the building and construction industry, and to ensure that the system is being continuously implemented and maintained at high standards for quality assurance purposes.
Under the Australian Government Building and Construction OHS Accreditation Scheme, only accredited head contractors can enter into contracts for building and roadwork that is funded directly or indirectly by the Australian Government. Those direct-funded projects costed at more than $4 million can be contracted to the Council, as can indirectly-funded projects where the Australian Government contribution is at least $6 million and represents 50 per cent of the total project value, or to projects valued at $10 million or more.
As Flinders Shire Council is the primary employer throughout the region, this accreditation is a significant achievement given the remoteness of the area and the limited resources available.
Having adopted a long-term vision and investing $250,000 and considerable efforts in staff development in the accreditation process, the local council is now aiming to secure more contract work.
Ultimately, funding secured from the additional contract work will improve job security for its employees, contractors and the wider community.
Although the local residents are unlikely to notice this low-profile initiative in action, accreditation will make a significant, positive impact upon the long-term sustainability of the town.