Victorian security guards work hard to keep you and your community safe. They are campaigning to win a professional security industry.
The private security industry is witnessing a massive exodus of experienced guards required to help prevent another September 11, finds a new report released today to mark a decade since the terror attacks in New York.
Security Failure: Preventing Another 9/11 finds that in the decade since the attacks, guards are better trained and face tough licensing standards and Australia now depends on them to protect us from terrorism and crime.
But the report reveals that experienced, properly-trained officers are leaving the industry in droves because of low pay and a lack of respect from employers and the public, and this labour crisis threatens to severely compromise Australia’s counter-terrorism efforts.
Security Failure: Click here to download the report in full
“When terrorists hit New York on September 11 2001, it was security guards who were first on the scene, and they saved countless lives,” says Jess Walsh, Victorian Secretary of United Voice, the Security Union.
“With terrorists or criminals always looking to exploit gaps in our security, guards are now the people standing between us and an unthinkable tragedy,” Walsh says.
“Both governments and private clients have demanded more and more of our security officers over the past 10 years, and they have assumed the crucial roles once reserved for the police and defence forces,” she says.
“We found security guards are now just as likely to be violently killed on the job as police, and are more likely to be seriously injured. This is now the most dangerous job.”
“But while security officers have stepped up to the challenge by becoming highly-trained, highly-skilled and highly-responsible professionals, their wages have gone from bad to worse, many are now scraping along the poverty line,” she says. “And they have seen their meagre pay rises devoured by the sharp rise in the cost of living over recent years.”
“These are the very workers who are responsible for our safety and the safety of facilities our economy relies on, whether they are guarding airports or major train stations, oil refineries or defence bases, office buildings or city streets,” Walsh says. “If we don’t better value this profession we will lose even more of our best guards, and then we may pay a far bigger price.”
The stark warning comes after Australia’s top national security officials told a major conference in Sydney last week that global terrorism is continuing to grow and evolve.
Allan Gyngell, the director-general of the Office of National Assessments, Australia's chief intelligence assessment agency, said the threat of terrorism is as great as it ever has been.
Walsh says: “But there is a solution to this crisis: wages desperately need to rise so that our guards can afford to keep doing this important job. The people who protect us and our families deserve to be respected and valued — not forced on to the poverty line.”
The report found evidence that major clients of security contractors are willing to pay more for a professional security service. “Guards themselves have developed a professional code called Safeguard, which endorses contractors who meet the highest industry standards, and have reached collective agreements that better value their work.”
“Dozens of Victoria’s most important security clients now use Safeguard-endorsed companies, including AMP, Holden, Ford, Qantas, Crown and the courts.”
Further info: Adam Cathro, United Voice, Media Officer, 0413 239 665