INVEST IN YOUR BOATING SAFETY
Earlier this year a number of newspaper articles highlighted concerns regarding some assessors for the Recreational Skipper’s Ticket ( RST ). Apparently there was evidence of assessors not meeting the standards, which are clearly set out by the Department of Transport. This included, assisting in or changing answers to theory test results, allowing multiple attempts at practical assessment tasks and even issuing a certificate without a practical assessment taking place. Even more unscrupulous was the RST assessor who, when being audited by a DofT officer, ‘used’ a client who actually already had a skipper’s ticket. Of course the biggest concern really for all boaties is that we could be sharing the waters with someone else who is not competent.
After the media highlighted these concerns, DofT strengthened their auditing processes and it is worth highlighting assessment procedures for everyone to ensure they are being assessed properly. Assessment standards were raised in 2016 when you needed 24/30 in the theory and were permitted two attempts at each of the 11 practical assessment tasks ( 62 criteria in total ). Not any more! The theory test is now 40 questions with a pass mark of 34 and in the 11 practical tasks (total of 62 criteria), you are only permitted 1 attempt at each task, with no training or instruction permitted during the assessment and require a minimum of 56/62 criteria. Also, as you would expect, any major breach that risks the vessel or crew’s safety will result in an immediate failure.
There may be some who can read a 110 page workbook and then be assessed as competent in theory and practical, but this is a small minority. If you opt for the cheaper RST ‘assessment only’ course, remember you get what you pay for. I make no apologies for not providing ‘assessment only’ RST courses. The reason I provide full day training and assessment courses with small numbers is because I know what is involved in order to be assessed as competent. The training ensure competence, you know you really earned your certificate and it also enables me to provide valuable extra information such as local radio frequencies, launch and retrieval options, emergency scenarios and boat setup.
Recently I was audited by a DofT officer who sat in on both my theory and practical assessments. Whilst my assessment is audited and must meet a certain standard, I can provide any prior training that I consider appropriate, which usually consists of three hours before the theory and at least an hour before the practical, depending on the client’s ability. For anyone who is being audited, inspected or basically checked out, there is a level of stress involved, so I decided not to tell my client that the auditor was coming, as no need to unduly stress us both. Although the auditor was polite and chatty, my client obviously felt the effects of another person in the room and on the boat. Interestingly, it was only sometime after this day, that the name of my client, Bruce Laird, hit an alarm bell and I realised he was the former WA and Aust cricketeer who played 21 tests and 23 ODI’s. We laughed about it later and he reckoned it was way more stressful doing his practical with an auditor in the boat, than opening the batting for Australia. I thanked him for his patience on the day and just for the record, I received no ‘non compliances’ from the auditor, which very pleasing. So, with summer coming up, if you want to invest in your boating safety, give me a call and book into ‘Much More Than Just a Skipper’s Ticket course.’
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