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 Charles Cameron, addressing the RCSA International Conference, 25 August 2016

Port Douglas, Queensland

Ross: Welcome Charles and congratulations on your one year anniversary with the RCSA. How different, or similar, has your experience of the role been compared to your expectations of the role when you started in May last year?

Charles: Hi Ross, to be honest, the amount of work I’ve needed to do to undertake, both inside and out, has been far greater than I could have envisaged.  I came in to the role knowing that RCSA was ‘a lovely old Victorian home in a great street, but in need of some genuine love and attention to ensure a return to grandeur’.  Like most ‘renovators delights’, there was a fair bit more structural work required, before we could focus on the design elements.  But, I’m super excited about where RCSA is at and look forward to opening her up over the next 12 months.  Sorry, I’m a shocker for a bad analogy!

I’d like to revisit some of the topics from our exchange twelve months ago when you commenced as RCSA CEO. One of the challenges you raised was stakeholder engagement. Firstly, let’s tackle stakeholder engagement with governments, specifically licensing, which has become a very big issue recently. What do you see as the key issues for the RCSA in effectively working with governments on this hot topic? What progress is being made?

This is a really tough one Ross.  Let’s keep the answer simple.

Unions play a major part in getting the Labor party in to power.  Union membership in the private sector is now below 10% and continuing to fall.  Unions need members to remain relevant and financially sustainable.  Union recruitment models have been disrupted by flexible work where workers work for shorter periods of time in non-permanent work.  Unions need a scapegoat and blame ‘labour hire’ for disrupting their membership growth and retention model.  Unions are calling upon Labor governments in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT to rectify the disruptions to their membership model and Labor governments are happy to oblige by using licensing as a means to collect information on how and where ‘labour hire’ workers are working, so that unions can chase down members.

Therefore, the deals have been done and there is little RCSA can do to convince Labor governments to walk away from those deals.  Therefore, we have to focus on the medium to long term implications of a ‘labour hire’ licensing scheme that will eventually be de-funded or disbanded because of the industrial corruption that will be inherent in such law.  We need to limit the short term impact for our members and the businesses that rely upon ‘labour hire’ and develop a genuine alternative that can be developed from within the licensing schemes and then continue on when the licensing schemes fall over.

You will see that the Queensland government’s recently tabled Labour Hire Licensing Bill contains provision for mutual recognition of other accreditation schemes.  This is a direct result of RCSA lobbying and our genuine commitment to the establishment of a sustainable solution to exploitation in the horticulture industry and parts of the food processing industry.

I’m frustrated with the politicisation of the ‘labour hire’ licensing issue in these States as it just won’t work in the long term.

Moving onto stakeholder engagement with RCSA members and potential members; what progress is being made in hearing from, and engaging with, members to understand and respond to their issues and feedback?

I feel like I’ve been on the road, listening to members and prospective members for 12 months straight; which is exactly what I should have been doing.  The result of that consultation has been an overhaul of the RCSA strategy.

At the Winter Ball in Sydney I will announce that the RCSA strategy, to be known as ‘Leadership 2020’, will have, at its core, a new era of ‘member centricity’ and that, through four principal channels of member centricity we will ‘lead in the world of work’.

The four channels that we have established to ensure member value and relevance, derived through member engagement over the past 12 months are to:

  1. promote and protect the industry
  2. provide pathways to professionalism
  3. provide business enablement
  4. facilitate networking and celebration

There is a lot more to this exciting new development, and a lot of detail, which will be released over coming weeks however, from early discussions with member groups, we are being told we’ve hit the mark – which is a relief!

What about New Zealand? I know in the past some of our Kiwi cousins have felt they were not much more than an afterthought for the RCSA. What progress has been made in building bridges across the ditch, so to speak?

You’re spot on Ross, and it needed to be rectified very quickly.  I was told my predecessor went to New Zealand once in five years.  Next month I’ll have been there four times in one year.  We’ve also appointed Bridgette Sinclair as our Auckland based Partnership Manager, who is doing a fantastic job and on 15 June we will celebrate the second RCSA New Zealand Ball.

There is a lot more to be done to return the grandeur, but we are committed and on the ground.  In fact, from July onward we will be piloting the new certification program in New Zealand and there is a lot of excitement there – as there should be because it is such a fantastic industry in an amazing country.

You spoke last year about potential changes to the RCSA’s organisational model to better serve member interests. What new positions have been created and what difference has this made so far? What can we expect in the next 12 months?

Ross, there were some great contributors within the RCSA staff when I commenced however, it was time for change.  In 12 months, during significant restructure, I have overseen the appointment of new staff in 80% of the roles.  I really wanted to bring in significant business acumen to the association to better align it with the needs and wants of members.

We have recruited Monica Kent-Giles as our new Events Director.  Monica worked for News Ltd and is really excited about the Conference in Fiji in September which will be really different.

We have Nina Marshall heading up our Learning and Development offering.  Nina is working on driving a new era of professional development for members.  She really knows her stuff and is very member-centric in this critical position.

Robin Shepherd is our new Operations Manager, and she has brought in a substantial experience in database management for associations.  She came across from a consulting firm that specialised in member associations.

Leah Watson is our Finance Manager. Leah has transformed our internal governance, to ensure we are using our members’ money in the smartest way possible.

Wil Wodrow is our Australian Partnerships Manager, responsible for growing membership and heralding a new era of sponsor and partner relationship development.  Wil worked for JXT and Fasttrack 360, so he really understands the industry and what value looks like to our many different stakeholders.

There are heaps of others who, with the likes of Carly Fordred and Jodie Radley, who have continued at RCSA, are really gelling to ensure members will see substantial benefits from the many changes within RCSA.

The ‘gig economy’ presents many issues for workers, organisations and the recruitment industry, not least the growth of online recruitment marketplaces. What role do you see the RCSA having in this growing area? What progress has been made so far?

Ross, I have a real problem with online freelance platforms, especially where they rely upon the ‘tech firm’ or ‘online marketplace’ tag to try and compete on an uneven playing field.  Behind every algorithm and platform are Directors and Managers making decisions.  The RCSA is built upon ethical standards and good practice, so when a ‘gig platform’ claims it is not accountable to the same standards, I don’t accept it.  They have just as much capacity to stuff up the life of a candidate or undermine professional practice in a market, so they should stand up and be just as accountable in all the ways that RCSA members are accountable.

Sitting on dozens of government and industry forums, I’m letting everyone know that ‘tech’ and ‘innovation’ is not justification for non-compliance and poor treatment.  With the RCSA’s online workforce solutions working group, having met four times in the past 6 months, to discuss this very issue, you’ll see the RCSA ramping up our activity in this field.

Where has the RCSA, as an association, made the most progress in the past 12 months?

Listening to members, listening to members and continuing to listen to members.

The development of our Workforce Services Certification Program, recently supported by Allan Fels as Chair of the Migrant Worker Taskforce, makes it easier for buyers of recruitment and on-hire services to make a smart and ethical procurement decision.

Targeting poor procurement, as poor procurement undermines our industry and pushes some operators to cut corners.

Collecting success stories from across our industry. These stories will be used over the next 12 months to promote RCSA recruitment professionals and how they improve lives, communities and economies, every day across both countries.

What has been your personal highlight of your first 12 months in the job?

Creating new pathways for the next generation of leadership within the industry and RCSA. For example, I’ve worked closely with Matt Sampson, our new National Director who will be leading our next generation council to make sure we become even more relevant to those recruiters, leaders and owners responsible for forging the growth and reputation of  our industry over the next 20 years.

The RCSA Annual Conference is being held in just over three months, what can attendees expect?

Something really different to what they’ve experienced over the past 5 years.

Yes, there will be the industry and technical stuff that, on its own, will make attendance worthwhile however, we are also turning the traditional model on its head to appeal to a new generation.

Our goal is to attract a new audience, and that requires us to capture the hearts and minds of the great people in the industry.  As mentioned, our new Events Director is super excited about what we can do to transform what has been an amazing conference in the past, to ensure we stay ahead of the pack.

Please sign up people, early bird closes on 30 June!

What can we expect from the RCSA in the next 12 months?

A new team that is prepared to fight, fight, and keep fighting to promote and defend our great industry.

New business tools that bring great value.

A preparedness to knock out the dodgy operators using our new certification scheme, because it’s time to get serious about removing the bottom feeders from,  the labour hire sector.

Greater communication of the huge amount of work we do, and which many are not really aware of.

I think you directed Matt Sampson in to the RCSA when he started, questioning what RCSA was doing for the industry, and now he is one of our young leaders helping build the path for the next generation of recruitment professionals.  There are so many people who only realise the importance of RCSA when they see it from the inside.  We need to ensure we make the value of RCSA membership more transparent and valued.

Oh, and did I mention ‘member centricity’?

Last year you mentioned your love of 60s and 70s female soul singers. Who have you been listening to recently?

Ross, I’m going through an electro-soul phase at the moment.

Check out The Avener, whose album the Wanderings of the Avener puts a new spin on some old soul classics.

Where’s the bugling at?

Ha Ha! Being elected on to the World Employment Confederation has its advantages.  Last September I travelled to Brussels for a Board Meeting and I jumped a train to the Western Front where I played to … Georgy Boy.

Thanks Charles, all the best for the challenges ahead.

My pleasure, Ross. Any time.

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