Conroy Comes Out Swinging

  • 38,000 households already benefit from HAS
  • Master Electricians claims wrong, says Conroy
  • Installers must meet certain criteria

Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy has come out swinging after receiving criticism about the roll out of the Household Assistance Scheme (HAS), which is aimed at giving pensioners ‘free’ set-top boxes so they don’t miss out with the advent of digital television.

Conroy says the HAS had already assisted over 38,000 households safely and successfully.

Conroy said claims the Scheme will risk lives and damage business are misleading and based on incorrect information regarding the qualifications needed to deliver it.

The Master Electricians claim the only qualification needed to install digital set top boxes is to complete an online form. This is not correct.

Occupational health and safety issues have informed the development of the Antenna Installer Endorsement Scheme and the HAS

All installers and contractors must be fully accredited and registered under the HAS. This accreditation and registration process has been developed in consultation with the industry: the Australian Digital Television Industry Association, which is the appropriate industry body, and various industry working groups, said Conroy’s office in a press release.

Installers cannot simply fill in an online form as part of the HAS. Installers are not able to undertake the online assessment program until they have provided the following information and documents:

  • Proof of one year's experience in the industry conducting antenna installations for digital TV by providing the name and contact details of an industry referee who can verify this.
  • The name, model and serial number of the digital signal meter equipment they use to measure digital signal, bit error rate (BER) and modulation error ratio (MER).
  • Evidence that they (or their employer) have public liability insurance to a minimum value of $5million.
  • Their ABN or the ABN of their employer.
  • Photo identification, for example, a copy of their driver's licence or passport.
  • A current photo of the installer which must meet the same requirements specified for Australian passport photos.
  • All documents are checked and assessed by the Digital Switchover Taskforce.
  • Only when this information has been provided and verified are installers able to undertake the online assessment of their skills and knowledge.

This assessment is based on industry-agreed minimum standards based on units of competency covered in Certificates II and III in Telecommunications Digital Reception Technology, accepted into the national accredited training framework in 2009. The units for domestic installations cover areas such as working safely, coaxial cabling, antenna and equipment installation.

These are the 'industry-based competencies' that the Master Electricians Australia calls for and which were developed through consultation with the Australian Digital Television Industry Association and various industry working groups.

Approximately 1100 antenna installers have been endorsed through the scheme to date.

Service contractors who are involved in the delivery of the Household Assistance Scheme are required to have policies and procedures in place in relation to occupational health and safety; training, awareness and competence; risk management, incident management, specific safety issues, electrical safety, unsafe premises, and working in restricted (roof and floor) spaces and on roofs. Service contractors are also required to maintain insurance which will cover cases of professional negligence, workers' compensation and public liability.

It is mandatory for all Service Contractor personnel and subcontractors installing equipment at Customers' premises to either be endorsed under the Antenna Installer Endorsement Scheme at 'domestic' level; or have successfully completed, with a registered training organisation, the relevant units of competency to undertake domestic installations. Additional competencies are required for commercial or satellite installations. ‪

The work of service contractors is continuously reviewed for quality assurance and improvement. This includes random checks by Centrelink that customers are satisfied with the service they have received under the Scheme.