By Andrew Starke
NSW will become the first state in Australia to introduce a photo card linked to a centralised database as part of mandatory training for bar, security and gaming workers in licensed venues.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, George Souris, said the changes would strengthen the integrity of the Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) and Responsible Conduct of Gambling (RCG) training schemes.
Government believes the initiatives are necessary after conducting a review of mandatory training following an inquiry by the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC), which identified the need to reduce the risk of fraud associated with the existing paper certificate system.
“In NSW it is mandatory for all licensees, managers and staff with liquor or gambling duties to complete approved RSA and RCG training courses,” said Souris.
“These training schemes ensure they understand and comply with liquor and gaming laws and reduce the harm associated with alcohol abuse and problem gambling.
”Currently we have more than 80 approved training providers, with about 140,000 people undergoing RSA and RCG training each year.”
State Government claims the change will protect the integrity of these schemes by replacing paper certificates for new course graduates with a photo card and introducing a centralised database operated by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR).
The move follows ICAC’s inquiry into the security industry which found that RSA certificates had been improperly issued to people who had not done any training at all
“Undercover inspectors from OLGR also enrolled in training courses – and while most training providers do the right thing – they identified a small number of deficiencies,” said Souris.
”These included two courses being carried out in half the required time and trainers assisting students during the qualifying exam.”
The initiatives, to be introduced from August 22, will have far reaching consequences for hospitality workers, licensees, training organisations, police and liquor inspectors including:
A photo competency card with security features to make it easier for venue operators to verify a job applicant’s credentials in RSA and RCG and reduce the risk of fraud;
Phasing out paper certificates which lack portability, durability and reliability and can be forged or replicated;
A new online system, integrated with the NSW Government’s licensing database, for training organisations to enter all information about courses and graduates to reduce paperwork and improve compliance standards;
A centralised database operated by OLGR to ensure all requirements are met;
Reducing the need for licensees to keep copies of staff RSA and RCG certificates in a register on the premises which must be produced when requested by police and liquor inspectors often in peak trading periods;
- Making it easier for police and liquor inspectors to verify RSA and RCG credentials by requesting staff members to produce their photo card and verifying it by accessing the centralised database.
These changes will help both hospitality operators and regulators to verify RSA and RCG trained staff, reduce the risk of fraud, improve administration and record keeping arrangements for training organisations, and aid compliance,” said Souris.
“Hospitality workers will also benefit by reducing the risk of paper certificates being lost or damaged by providing a convenient wallet-sized photo card.
“While the photo card is expected to increase the cost of courses by a maximum of
$55, it will be valid for five years.
“OLGR is staging a series of information and training sessions for training organisations to help them prepare for the new systems.
“We will also continue to audit registered training organisations and licensed venues to ensure compliance with mandatory training requirements.