Home' Ausmarine : October 2016 Contents The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) does not
clearly define the direction it is taking in its quest to bring
everything “maritime” under a national framework. It is clear
that maritime training and assessment needs a major overhaul.
I have been involved in industry training for almost 40 years
and the issue of assessing the competency of our students is always
on my mind. In my own organisation, I have come across
seemingly qualified persons seeking wo rk on my vessels flashing
dubious, impressive-looking documents from some obscure
training facility only to discover, after close scrutiny, a lack of basic
understanding that is necessary in today’s industry.
In many instance, these training facilities don’t provide the
necessary infrastructure, fail to instil “hands on” knowledge or
understanding in their students, and so fail to promote a sense of
pride in their profession. Their main objective is to “put bums on
seats.” Ensuring they have the best student count result is what is
important to them, rather than the quality of training provided!
The real meaning of competence
Not surprisingly, competence seems to have as many different
definitions as there are people attempting to assess it. I n many
industries, getting the assessment of a person’s competency wrong
can simply result in a bad reputation for the assessing organisation,
but getting it wrong in the maritime industry can have
catastrophic consequence with loss of life in the unforgiving
environment of the sea.
After a round of consultations across Australia, AMSA is working
toward ensuring mandatory practical testing as part of the process
for issuing a maritime regulatory certificate. This change in final
assessment practice is being considered as part of the delegation of
final assessment responsibility to approved registered training
organisations (RTOs). Final responsibility for assessments should be
carefully monitored and distributed very sparingly.
Tougher standards are required to propel our industry to the
next level. It seems that in the past state based maritime regulatory
authorities existed in some type of time warp, using oral
questioning and sometimes small scale models of boats (like toys
for kids) to determine whether or not they would issue a candidate
with a certificate of competency or licence to be in charge of a
vessel. Such assessments ought to be stopped forthwith, as they are
unworthy of seagoing professionals. Thankfully with AMSA
stepping up and undertaking national regulation for all
certifications, changes are imminent.
Entering dangerous waters
There might still be some operators who believe that you can
obtain your ticket from a packet of cornflakes and steam around
the oceans in dreamland. Even smaller vessels with powerful
engines in increasingly congested waterways can become deadly
missiles and should only be operated by responsible skippers and
engineers. Soon, the criteria for the issuance of maritime
regulatory certificates of competency should be as rigorous as
those that have been in use in the civil aviation arena for
However , m ore needs to be done! Those of us who have been
involved in maritime training for many years have witnessed
graduates shopping around for a regulatory authority examine r
with a reputation for going easy on students. More often than
not, students face a regulatory final assessment armed with the
questions that an examiner is likely to ask. This is unsatisfactory
and is not simply resolved by the addition of a practical test and
delegating the function to appro ved RTOs.
Parity of testing
The only way to make final assessment for issuing a regulatory
certificate of competency equitable across Australia is to ensure
that both oral questions and practical tasks are undertaken. This
needs to be coupled with the correct assessor guides that are
randomly generated from a national database that is established
and maintained by AMSA. Above all, AMSA must take a stronger
stand with its assessor material and personnel, who should have
the qualifications necessary to screen the new crop of seafarers that
we desperately need: smart, diligent, drug-free, hands-on,
professionals, who can think ahead and make good decisions.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has an important role
to play. It will be of great interest over the next few years to see if
AMSA can drag the regulation of certification into the
We must not forget, we are an island nation, destined to
produce excellent seafarers.
We in the Australian Maritime and Fisheries Academy in Port
Lincoln, Adelaide and now Northern Territory, are prepared to give
our full support to help our regulators take the next step for the
future of Australia.
When is an AMSA
certificate more than just
a piece of paper?
A column of personal opinion by one of Australia’s leading
fishing industry entrepreneurs. Hagen Stehr AO of Port Lincoln.
6 October 2016 AUSMARINE
06 KAISER:Layout 1 17/9/16 11:42 AM Page 6
Links Archive Sept 2016 December 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page