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Report on Performance

ATSB forging new ground in transport safety investigator training
Stop Press - Wheeler Report Handed Down
Working with our neighbours in southeast Asia to improve security
Greening Australia's cars
Planning tomorrow's transport system today

Transport Outputs and Programmes

ATSB forging new ground in transport safety investigator training

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is forging a reputation as a world leader in the training and professional development of its transport safety investigators.

ATSB investigators are those specialists responsible for the independent investigation of accidents and incidents involving civil aircraft, merchant ships and nationally operated trains.

Not a desk job

This can mean working in extremely remote, inaccessible and hazardous environments, and investigators have to be physically and mentally prepared to operate in any environmental setting.

In recent times our investigators have been exposed to the full range of extreme conditions, from operations in tropical far north Queensland-where they had to be winched in by helicopter-to the sub-zero temperatures of the Victorian Alps in winter,' said Mr Colin McNamara, manager of training and development for the ATSB.

Operating in these types of conditions is tough enough, however the real dangers present themselves at the actual crash sites. Here, investigators are often confronted with a cocktail of hazards, including blood borne pathogens, dangerous goods, chemicals, explosive devices and carcinogens, just to name a few.

Training to succeed

To provide investigators with the basic skills, knowledge and confidence to operate within these conditions, the ATSB has recently introduced a nationally endorsed Diploma of Transport Safety Investigation (TSI)-the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

Trainee investigators are recruited from relevant industries, and include people like pilots, ships captains, train controllers, engineers and psychologists specialised in human factors including behaviour, stress and fatigue.

We deliberately recruit people with specialist industry knowledge and a strong performance background, as this is essential when establishing credibility as an investigator,' Mr McNamara explained.

The TSI Diploma is structured on 700 hours (approx) of training conducted over 1218 months. Training is based on three core components:

  • Recognition of prior learning-the skills and knowledge base of trainees (ie. communication, information technology and management) are assessed.
  • Theoretical training in key areas such as human factors, OH&S, media, negotiation, interviewing, coronial witness and technical courses in collecting, recording and evaluating evidence.
  • On-the-job training and experience-trainees attend accident sites initially as observers and gradually progress to actively participating in investigations with the support of a senior mentor.

Training external organisations

The TSI diploma is highly regarded and has attracted interest from many other organisations, including transport operators, emergency services and overseas industry training providers.

While the ATSB is not geared to offer the diploma externally, it offers short courses in human factors and advanced OH&S as part of its ongoing commitment to improving safety.

Future plans

Plans are already underway to build on the success of the ATSB's ground-breaking approach to training.

Next year we hope to roll out an Advanced Diploma to better prepare our organisation to deal with large-scale accidents, while also establishing a platform for individual investigators to then complete their Masters certificate,' Mr McNamara said.

This development will further position ATSB transport safety investigators as among the very best in the world.

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Stop Press - Wheeler Report Handed Down

In June 2005 the government announced a major review of security and policing at Australian airports. This followed concerns about possible criminal activity at airports as any weaknesses exploited by criminals could also be utilised by terrorists.

The review, headed up by former minister and UK security expert the Right Hon Sir John Wheeler, examined the threat from serious and organised crime at airports, the integration of ground-based security and law enforcement arrangements, and the adequacy of existing security requirements.

The department established and contributed senior staff to the 13-member review secretariat including Kym Bills from ATSB and Andy Turner from OTS, and supported the inquiry until its completion in September 2005.

Responding to the report on 21 September, the Prime Minister announced a number of new security measures, several of which directly involve our department. They include:

  • $38.0 million to strengthen air cargo security arrangements-this includes funding for the Australian Customs Service to improve its explosive detection capabilities
  • $23.4 million for improved security and crime information exchange arrangements for aviation, with another $20.5 million to be provided to the Australian Crime Commission
  • an immediate review of the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and associated regulations
  • further tightening of background checking and processing arrangements for the issue of Aviation Security Identification Cards, and
  • $3.8 million to introduce a new national aviation security training framework to support the aviation industry.

Implementing these measures in partnership with industry and other agencies will be a major priority for the department in 200506.

A copy of the Wheeler Report is available at www.aspr.gov.au.

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Working with our neighbours in southeast Asia to improve security

The Australian Embassy bombing in Jakarta in September 2004 was a brutal and direct reminder of the importance of regional security.

In 2003 the Australian Government directed our department to establish transport security liaison sections in embassies in Indonesia and the Philippines to gain a better understanding of and help our neighbours improve transport security in the region.

The first section was due to open in September 2004 in the Jakarta Embassy, but the bombing on the 9th of that month changed that-the explosion killed 11 people, injured 200 and caused serious damage to the vacant office where the section was to be housed.

With the embassy in disarray, Singapore provided a temporary home. The section eventually relocated to Jakarta in early 2005, and will soon start managing a $1 million training-based project to improve aviation security in Indonesia.

The Manila section is also up and running. Based in the Australian embassy, it is working with the Philippines Government on a major 18-month project to enhance port security.

Aside from Indonesia and the Philippines, the two sections also share responsibility for transport security issues across all other Southeast Asian countries and are working on a number of other regional initiatives.

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Greening Australia's cars

In August 2004 the Australian Government launched the Green Vehicle Guide, a world-leading tool to help consumers rate and compare cars according to their impact on the environment.

The guide provides environmental ratings and fuel consumption data on over 1400 different models-from the smallest passenger cars to large 4WDs and light commercials-and is regularly updated as new models are released.

In 200405 the department actively promoted the guide through print and internet advertising, displays at key conferences and through face to face contact with organisations buying new vehicles.

Our website www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au has received over 80 000 visits and the guide itself is increasingly used in vehicle assessments, including the Australia's Best Cars annual awards.

Labels on the windscreens of new cars are also helping educate consumers about each car's likely fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, similar to those used to rate the energy and water consumption of new white goods.

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Planning tomorrow's transport system today

In May 2005 the BTRE hosted a highly successful two-day transport colloquium with the theme of tomorrow's transport infrastructure'.

Held at Parliament House in Canberra, the colloquium was the fifth and biggest ever run by the BTRE. It brought together more than 200 transport business leaders, policy makers and researchers from across Australia.

Twenty-five speakers from industry, government (including BTRE) and the wider research community spoke about: the challenges of meeting the future transport task; the tension between competing objectives in regulation; infrastructure pricing; the role of public private partnerships; and infrastructure investment and economic growth.

Keynote addresses were delivered by the former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr John Anderson, and Professor Jose Gomez-Ibanez, a world expert on transportation policy and urban development from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Events like the colloquium provide unique networking opportunities and play an important role in forging links between all levels of government and industry.

The colloquium was an incredibly important meeting,' DOTARS Secretary, Mike Taylor said. Not only because it looks towards tomorrow but also because it brings together leading people in transport in an environment where broad-ranging issues can be openly discussed.'

BTRE plans to hold its next transport colloquium in June 2006, followed by a regional colloquium in 200607.

For more information, visit www.btre.gov.au/colloquium/index.aspx

Right: 18 of the 25 speakers at the colloquium.
(Photo smileyrileyfadstudio/DOTARS)

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