An outstanding initiative
NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is calling for expressions of interest from the state’s Indigenous communities to participate next year in the agency’s highly successful Plumbing Heath Check Program.
The program, designed for remote Aboriginal communities with limited access to tradespeople, was piloted in Lightning Ridge and Walgett in 2014 with local Aboriginal housing providers, Barriekneal Community and Housing Ltd and Murdi Paaki Regional Housing Corporation.
It gives locals a better understanding of and capacity to ensure optimal operation of plumbing and drainage systems and puts a focus on the importance of these systems for community health and safety.
In June this year, Fair Trading teamed up with the Master Plumbers Association (MPA) NSW to conduct the program in Bourke and Alice Edwards Village with Murdi Paaki and Nulla Nulla Local Aboriginal Land Council.
Mr Stowe said 60 properties were visited with 53 identified for major repairs, which will be carried out by the housing providers.
“Two properties in Alice Edwards Village needed urgent attention to blocked sewers and following a request from Fair Trading, Bourke Shire Council cleared and rectified the private sewer line,” he said.
“Minor repairs to 35 of the 60 properties were done on the spot by Fair Trading and MPA members, including Indigenous apprentices.
“A number of suppliers donated materials for the program and left over materials were given to the housing providers for future work.”
Issues identified during the program included: leaking, broken and missing tapware, broken toilets and cisterns; blocked or broken drains; and, damaged shower bases and vanity cupboards.
One property was identified as having Infinity cable installed and this was brought to the attention of the housing provider and immediately made safe.
Another was identified as having a low electrical service line (aerial), which is an electrocution hazard and the local energy utility provider was immediately notified to rectify it.
The program supports improved maintenance forward planning for housing providers and educates tenants about the impacts of flushing chemicals into the system, building or planting over sewer and stormwater lines and altering or interfering with overflow gully heights and existing drainage systems.
It also educates tenants about the appropriate use of drinking water supply and backflow prevention to prevent contamination, identifying water conservation and rainwater harvesting opportunities and prevention of scalding.
Master Plumbers Association of NSW CEO, Paul Naylor, said the association was extremely pleased to be invited by Fair Trading to participate in the Bourke program.
“It was great to see two first year apprentices from Master Plumbers Apprentices Ltd (MPAL) work under supervision of MPAL staff and Fair Trading to help local residents improve the quality of their lives,” he said.
“It was a very positive and rewarding experience for all those who participated and we look forward to being involved in future program delivery.
“This is an outstanding initiative and I congratulate Fair Trading and the State Government for their foresight and commitment to Indigenous communities.
“I also thank the suppliers who generously provided materials for the program – Caroma Industries Ltd, Vinidex Pty Ltd, Plumbers’ Supplies Co-op, Elson Australasia Pty Ltd, Plastec Australia Pty Ltd, Geberit Pty Ltd, Fix-A-Tap Australia Pty Ltd and Bromic Pty Ltd.”
Apprentice Scott Hoskins said the group had worked hard and found the program incredibly satisfying.
“The week away was very eye opening and made me feel my choice of the plumbing trade as a career was justified,” he said.
Apprentice Michael Moore said he had learnt so much and Bourke was very different working environment compared to where he normally worked, in Sydney.
MPAL supervisor Nick Triantafilis said in a short three days they were able to improve the sanitary conditions of the local indigenous community.
“We had a great team of people to work with and the satisfaction of the tenants was thanks enough,” he said.z