Skip to content
Menu

Apprentice and supervisor webinar

Electricity Safety Week

Dan and Ed, TradeMutt

Dan and Ed are tradies and cofounders of TradeMutt, an Australian workwear brand. Together they discussed the stigmas around mental health in men and the importance of taking care of your own mental health.

Chris Bombolas:

Good morning everyone, and welcome to our apprentice and supervisor webinar. I'm Chris Bombolas, I'll be your MC for this very special presentation. Can I firstly start by acknowledging respectfully the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet and elders past, present and emerging. Well, as you're well aware, it is Electricity Safety Week and we've had a host of activities going on and today is no exception. Electricity Safety Week reminds us all, that while electricity helps power our everyday lives, it can be dangerous.

Chris Bombolas:

The ESO is hosting free digital events focusing on health and safety in the industry, particularly, a focus on mental health. These events are tailored for industry leaders, electrical workers, contractors and apprentices. On Tuesday we had the Electricity Safety Summit and heard from Dave Burt, talking about the challenges he faced at work while he battled depression. Yesterday, our webinar for electrical contractors and electricians featured football legend and Australian survivor champion Matt Rogers, and my god, he was very inspiring when he spoke about the challenges that he's faced, including how he manages stress and personal loss.

Chris Bombolas:

Today, of course, very shortly we're going to catch up with the boys from Aussie workwear brand; TradeMutt, Dan and Ed. They'll be looking at the stigmas around mental health during our digital session, especially for you guys, the apprentices and supervisors in the electrical industry. Today also happens to be World Suicide Prevention Day, and R U Okay? Day. That reminds me of what Dave Burt told us, or informed us about and it's a question that we should be asking our mates, what's happening in your world? To open discussions that quite often are very difficult to have. So on World Suicide Prevention Day and R U Okay? Day I'd like to encourage you all to maybe get the ear of a mate and ask, "What's happening in your world?"

Chris Bombolas:

As I said, today we have some very special guests, the boys from TradeMutt, Dan and Ed, Glen Cook from Energy Queensland will be joining us as well, and arc flash survivor Mark. So I acknowledge their presence today and their contribution in our presentation today. If you have questions for our speakers, because we do have a panel session at the end, type your full name and question via the chat box to the right of the livestream, we'll ask them during the panel session at the end of our session today. Your full name must be entered, so you are eligible for a competition that we have as well, and we know who to contact. To change the size of your screen, select the four small arrows next to the volume bar at the bottom of your screen.

Chris Bombolas:

Now, I mentioned the competition, we love a competition at the ESO. We have five TradeMutt vouchers to give away today. You'll learn a bit more about TradeMutt from Dan and Ed very, very shortly, but the gift vouchers will allow you to select from a range of bright, out there, high quality workwear shirts, and hats, and gear. So get your questions ready. Dan and Ed are wearing some of those examples today, and they are bright, and they are loud, and they get the message across. So I look forward to catching up with the boys very, very shortly. For your chance to win those TradeMutt vouchers, all you need to do is submit the question for any of our speakers, so stay tuned, get those questions in. If your question gets asked during the panel session, you'll go into the draw to win those vouchers.

Chris Bombolas:

If you're watching from a conference or teaching rooms, and I know we have a number of those out there in digital world, you can still participate. All you have to do is get your phones, register via the website, if you haven't already, and submit your questions via the chat box like everybody else, and bingo, you're in there with a chance to win those TradeMutt vouchers. One of the real issues in the electrical industry is arc flash. Today, we'll hear from a survivor, Mark, very, very shortly. Mark's arc flash accident left him in hospital for around three weeks and off work for almost three months. Mark's sharing his story to raise awareness about life-saving consequences of working live. So let's hear Mark's story.

Mark:

I've been an electrician for about 18 years now and I'm very confident in what I do, and I still ended in hospital. I've got up that day, a standard day, not thinking anything of it. I said I'll bounce in and do that power quality assessment we had to do. I'd assessed the work to be done live, and I was very confident of what had to get done, it was possible to do it live. All I need to do is clip on these four crocodile clips, which isn't a hard task, you know what I mean? I can see the buzz bar. I've clipped on the first one. And then I went to clip on the second one. But as soon as I've touched it, it just went boom. Just white-yellow flashed on my face and just a really disgusting noise. And then I wasn't unconscious, but I realized what had happened and I could just smell it. All my hair burnt, my skin was all burning and I could see all my clothes were burnt and things. My skin was hanging off and that. I was just all black.

Mel:

So when I first found out that he'd had the accident, I was at work, but when I answered the phone I couldn't actually understand what he was saying. He was all gibberish. But all I got was, "I'm in a bad way, I'm being taken to hospital." I just, I panicked, yeah?

Mark:

In Mark's case, while he was working on the switchboard, as a result of attempting to pull off two pieces of insulation, he exposed the risk of two separate electrical phases. In bridging that out with his screwdriver, he's created a large arc flash with high volt current available inside the switchboard, which resulted in a large fireball, which burnt Mark considerably.

Mel:

When I first walked in to see him, he was in a hospital bed and he was just black, and his hair was singed.

Mark:

The injuries that I actually sustained would've been, it was actually 12 per cent body burns. So that involved skin grafts. For that to heal, they grind your skin off and then lay it on top of the burns.

Mel:

So the next day after the skin grafts, as soon as I walked into his room in the burns ward, he was just head to toe in bandages. He looked like a mummy. I think that's when it hit me.

Mark:

The first week was not an enjoyable time. I was on splints, full arm splints, leg splints, couldn't even pick my own nose. Every second day I had to get all my dressings took off. So you've got dressings stuck on your skin grafts all stuck in here, so you need to go in your shower and then get all wetted up to release all the stickiness of it. And then take it off, and it just sticks to your skin and it's sore. I didn't know what I going to look like. I ended up in hospital for three weeks, and off work for three months. And what I didn't realize then during what I was going through, how it hurt Mel. How it emotionally strained her. Mentally and emotionally. It's not a nice feeling that the person you love is obviously upset and hurt because of what's happened to you.

Mel:

Mark definitely didn't realize how much his accident had affected me, the realization of how serious it was. He could've died. Just had no idea. When Mark started having his rehab, that was hard, because he had been in hospital for such a long period of time without moving. He was really happy when he called me that he told me he'd walked for the first time with his Zimmer frame. So he still had to lean on it, but I was really proud.

Mark:

It was also a big emotional burden that's getting put on your loved ones, whether it be wife, your family, your parents or something. It thus puts an emotional burden on them.

Mel:

He loves his work. He loves to be always keeping his mind active. So when he couldn't go straight back to work that also held some frustrations and I think a little bit of anger. I was really happy to see him back at work. I do want to be with him for the rest of my life, so I am grateful that he has healed.

Mark:

You can prevent arc flash by eliminating the hazard. Turn the power off and isolate the equipment. Even if that means rescheduling the work for another time. Remember, working near energized parts can be just as dangerous as performing live work. Arc flash risk isn't just limited to large switchboards, they can also occur in smaller switchboards, electrical supply pillars, and even large electrical equipment. So plan your work, and always follow your safe working procedures.

Mark:

I think one thing that I would like to get out there after my accident is just to, all the other Sparkies out there, is just don't work live. Don't put yourself in situations where, or like I was, just because you're trying to please a client, just because you're trying to get the job done faster. If you've got a wife, kids, family, it's just not worth it. Nothing's worth your life.

Chris Bombolas:

Well, that is an inspiring story, and Mark is truly grateful that he is a survivor because it could've gone very, very, very badly south. It is a pleasure that I introduce Mark. He does have a message for each and every one of the 56,000 electrical workers and 12,000 contractors in Queensland. Mark, please join us.

Mark:

Thank you Chris. Okay, thank you. Well, good morning everyone. It's an early one this morning. First of all, I'd just like to thank Electrical Safety Office, and Workplace Queensland, and Chris as well for just giving me the opportunity to speak again at one of the webinars, just to try and emphasize the point I was trying to get across here. I think as well sometimes that we forget that, especially now more than ever, that the world's in a bit of a crazy situation at the moment, that we also need to sit back sometimes and remember that we're lucky enough to be living in a society, or live in a country where we've got organizations, or governments as such, that are willing to spend money to teach us electricians, or try and educate us and just give something back to us. So basically, all of this is done just to keep my fellow electricians safe. So we might not agree with the governments and that at times, but I think when they put money aside to do things like this for us, it's appreciated.

Mark:

So it's supervisors and apprentice day today, and as a Sparkie, sure there's a few Sparkies out there watching. I'm sure we all know that we've... I believe anyway that it is every tradesman's or supervisor's duty of care or social responsibility to train our apprentices, because I'm sure we've all worked with that one apprentice, or a few apprentices, I'll try not to swear here, that's pretty incompetent. So what we need to remember as being tradesmen, Sparkies, even Chippies, plumbers and that. I believe that these apprentices, they don't really know anything when they come to work as Tradies. So it's up to us. I'd say we've got a social responsibility to teach them. And I think when it comes to safety, you want to be teaching these guys at a very young age. And if they are coming out of it 16, 17, 18 years old, you've got to spend that time on a young gun, teach them about the risks associated with the future career. And that's our responsibility.

Mark:

That's you, you're the supervisor, you're the foreman, you're the team leader. It's your responsibility to sit down with the younger guys and run through your safe work method statements with them. When you're building these safe work method statements you obviously need to consult all your workers in them when you're making them. So when they're young apprentices explain to them, and explain to them why we've got control measures to reduce the risks.

Mark:

And that's something I think, I like having apprentices, because I like to teach them, and I like to just make sure they're learning because it's a nice, comforting feeling when you see them progress in their trade, or as a person as well. So just, if you're a supervisor and you're wanting that extra money in your salary, then you've got to earn it. And I think teaching and ingraining safety in the youngsters is definitely where you need to start.

Mark:

It's things like your safe work method statements for your high risk work or tasks you're doing every day. You need to make sure when the guys are signing these and before the jobs, and you need to make sure they're reading them, and you want to make sure they understand them, because anyone can sign that bit of paper and go off and do their job. But you've got that responsibility to make sure they understand and make sure they're implementing these control measures. And also for maybe some guys that are only working on larger sites, they may be doing multiple service calls each day. You're going to make sure your job safety analysis are getting done, prior to any work getting started.

Mark:

And what I used to do was, I'd get the apprentices to fill them out. Obviously, I'm with them, but I'm getting them used to filling out those paperwork and actually having a look around and identifying hazards. Getting them to think about it. Not just saying, "Look, sign this bit of paper here." But actually, explain to them what they'll do. Just because if we don't teach them when they're young, they're not going to turn into good tradesmen and we may get unfortunate accidents happen.

Mark:

So, just really keep on at them and they're not going to get it first time, they're only young boys, man. So just make sure you're spending that time and addressing why we take a few steps back before we do any work and assess the risks. And then if we need to implement some control measures, we implement them and safely do that. And then for example is, it's just something I've seen over the last year or two, as there's been a few Sparkies have been dying when they're working in roofs, or working on conductive roofs. And I just think that's something that we need to remember is, when you're jumping up there, you're just going to do some residential work. You might just be helping out a friend, or a family friend.

Mark:

So you really need to remember is, there could be a lot of dodgy work done before you and so obviously the insulation that was getting installed that way, always quite dangerous. So if you're crawling in roof spaces, that should actually really be turning the power off before you go in there. Addressing the fact that there could be some unseen or unknown electrical hazards in that roof. And I really think that... I've seen that in even the last few months the guys haven't been doing it and I've been explaining to them, "Look, I don't care if the customer is not happy about the power going off. You turn that power off, or you don't go in that roof. And sometimes you've got to stand up and say, "No, that's just the way we're doing it. I don't care if you're sitting playing on your computer or if you're doing something. I'm going to turn your power off, because that's a safe way of doing it.""

Mark:

So just make sure you're speaking to your apprentices, and make sure you keep an eye on them. And if they're doing their own GSAs, checking them, and chatting to them about it. I know it's R U Okay? Day today, and I think it's quite fitting as we're working in teams to always have a chat with the guys, how they're doing. So we're honoured today having boys from Trademutt here, which will be speaking to you in a bit more depth about mental health and they'll know a lot more about me. But as a man, as a Sparkie, and I enjoy working in teams, I always feel when you're working in a team environment, you really want to be speaking with the guys that you're working with, making sure they're okay. I'm sure we've all been in situations where you've got colleagues that, they might not be performing a 100%, or they might just be being a bit awkward, or a bit weird, or a bit not themselves that day.

Mark:

And maybe it's somebody that you don't like as well, but I always think you should just put yourself in their shoes, and instead of jumping down someone's throat if they mess up, have a chat to them and say, "Look, mate. Is everything all right?" Do you know what I mean? "You've got some problems at home?" They might be arguing with their Mrs. They might have issues. They might have financial issues. So I think before we start getting on people's backs or when people frustrated, you should just have a chat with them. It's just is easy to assume things, but you should just chat with them and ask them if everything's going okay and don't be harsh on people before you know what's going on in their minds. So that's basically me, short and sweet this morning guys. But thank you, cheers.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks Mark. Some very important messages there. And for all of you at home, especially the apprentices and supervisors, take heed of the warnings and the messages, it may save someone's life. And there is an extra special footnote in Mark's story. His beautiful and brave partner, Mel, you saw her in the film. Mark and her are getting married in the not-too-distant future. So on behalf of the ESO and all of us, we'd like to wish you two guys all the best in the future. So, thanks for joining us this morning Mark.

Chris Bombolas:

If you'd like to ask Mark a question, don't forget we've got the panel session coming up a little bit later. You could submit your questions. Type your full name and question via the chat box to the right of the screen. Asking questions puts you in the draw, remember, for the Trademutt gift vouchers. We've got five of those to give away. And just as a final footnote, Mark's film, which is Mark, Arc Flash Survivor, can be found at electricitysafety.qld.gov.au, along with a wide range of other electrical safety sources.

Chris Bombolas:

I've got a question for you out there who are watching. Hands up those who know about the Look Up and Live power line mapping app? Anyone? Yep, excellent. We've got a few hands up here. Well, the guy behind that is going to join us now. And I refer to Glen Cook. Cookie, as he's known affectionately from Energy Queensland. Now Cookie, has been electrician for 30 years in the construction and utilities industry. Extremely passionate about power line safety awareness, and we know that, because we do a lot of work with Cookie, and he is out there pedalling those messages. He was the driving force behind the award winning Look Up and Live free power line mapping application that helps workers plan work next to power lines. A very important issue in this industry. And to talk about his baby, here is Glen Cook.

Cookie:

Thanks Bomma. Well thank you Chris, great introduction. Thanks to the ESO for inviting me here today to talk a little bit about myself and the Look Up and Live app. As Chris said, I have been an electrician for around 30 years now. But the bulk of that time, I was on the tools, plotting poles, digging holes, putting power lines back up. Unfortunately, part of that role is, I've done over 300 shock investigations.

Cookie:

Now, part of that role as a senior inspector, as I got to be towards the middle part of my career, was attending fatalities and very serious incidents, much like Mark was talking about before where people have received severe burns and obviously, fatalities. So, my career changed about 10 years ago. Like I said, I was on the tools. I was a work group leader, as you call it, or a supervisor. I got a phone call and a accident had happened about 400 meters down the road from our depot in Hervey Bay.

Cookie:

So my boys were all at work and they're 10, 15 minutes away and I realized it was just down the road. So I said, "I'll jump in my car and go find out what's going on." I started driving down the road. I pulled up at a set of traffic lights, and I could see to my right there's a worker on top of an elevated work platform, and there's some paramedics trying to revive a person. And I've instantly gone, "This is worse than I thought."

Cookie:

You hate coming to these incidents, right? I immediately thought to myself, selfish I know, but I thought, "Why me again?" I had been to several of these incidents. I looked to my left, and it's the Hervey Bay High School. There's about 80 to a 100 kids all lined up on the fence, and they've seen it happen. So I've gone to myself, "Why don't people, why don't workers understand the laws that are around power lines?" Everything I talk about today, it is the law. The laws are in for an obvious reason. Just, people do not actually see the power lines when they're working near them.

Cookie:

So on this particular day, it was a painter operating that elevated work platform. The power lines that you can see there on the slides are 11,000 volts. So on this particular day, the painter was using an aluminium paint roller. Now, he didn't even touch those power lines. He just got too close, an arc formed, it went through him, and he was killed instantly.

Cookie:

Now, when that arc forms, it's 20 to 30,000 degrees Celsius. Like you've had a cup of coffee this morning? 70 to 80 degrees. It's 30,000 in an instant. Just a tremendous release of energy in that one point in time. We've had several fatalities in our business over the past few years. This was the last incident that occurred up in Cairns in July last year, where an operator of a Frontier crane, while moving a load around and the Frontier crane contacted an overhead power line, and the Dogger that was looking after the load was killed instantly.

Cookie:

These incidents are real, they're happening all the time. There has been seven fatalities in Queensland since 2016, and over 60 serious, high voltage contacts that are resulting in burns, serious injuries, and obviously, equipment damage. And the thing is, like we talked about before, mental health. And I've come across these incidents, so it's not just the families, and the workers, and the machinery involved, it's the Ergon and Energex workers that have to come and be involved in these incidents and their families as well. So it's just another thing to remember.

Cookie:

Why do people hit power lines? I always ask this when I do a presentation. Now the electricians out there can probably answer yes, but if you ask yourself, when you came to work this morning, how many people seen a power line? Most people would be sitting there, look at themselves going, "How did Cookie know I didn't see any power lines this morning?"

Cookie:

It's because of one thing. It's called inattentional blindness. Basically, our eyes and our brain don't work that well together. Our eyes don't work like a video camera. It doesn't capture everything in your line of sight. Our brain chooses what we want to see. Power lines are built to a standard that are away from our normal reach, and our normal every day lives. Once we start working though, it's a different story. We've got ladders, we've got elevated work platforms, we've got fire machinery, cane harvesters, cane haulout vehicles. All these different bits of machineries that can actually touch the power lines.

Cookie:

So, when I got into this safety role, I put myself in the shoes of the workers. Plumbers, builders, painters, farmers. And I quickly realized that people aren't seeing the power lines. Because I'll talk to a farmer, for example say, "So what happened on that day?" And they go, "Cookie, I 100% knew that that power line was there, I just didn't see it." Then I quickly worked out, it was this inattentional blindness and a lack of planning, right?

Cookie:

So you have to have a plan in place to actually see those power lines. Now there's a good new innovation out now, it's called a rotor marker. So if you get a plan in place, you can put these rotor markers on and this dulls the effects of inattentional blindness. It is an administration control, but it is a good control if you absolutely need to be working near that power line.

Cookie:

You really need to plan ahead, right? So I got to a point where I worked out that we've got underground power lines, but a lot of people don't hit the underground power lines, and why is that? Because they use Dial Before You Dig, and they get a plan, because they can't see the power line. When it comes to overhead power lines, most people go, "Well it's overhead, you can see it." And we're relying on people to come on site and actually see that power line, but they don't.

Cookie:

So, we've developed the Look Up and Live app, which is available in the app stores today. I'd like everyone at home to grab their phone right now, go to the app store, or go to the Google Play store and search for Look Up and Live, and download that app. It's a very handy tool. It puts power line safety right at your fingertips. If you have a look at this, you're only a couple of steps away from getting safety advice from Ergon or Energex. Jump straight in.

Cookie:

This is just a quick look at the app. Ergon, Energex, Endeavor Energy, and Powerlink have now got their assets on the map. We're now talking to a few other distributors out there that want to put their information on the app as well. So as you can see, you can just jump in, type an address, or scroll down to where you want to go to. Find your work site. This is just a work site that I picked in Gladstone. You can jump on. You can instantly see that there's power lines bordering this property. So how are we going to deliver the gear? What are we going to do on that property? Who's in charge? Who's going to be the safety observer? What is the exclusion zone around those power lines?

Cookie:

So even just looking at this property from a different angle, you instantly got the start of a small plan and you're less likely to come into contact with a power line already. You can print out the plan, jump in, call it whatever you want, press print. Spits it out as a PDF document. You can now share it with all your workers, sub contractors, and share with everyone what the plan is to work around this power line. A three meter exclusion zone and the use of a safety observer will save you every single time. But, we also want you to eliminate, for example, this one here, if it was going to be a large block of flats, let's talk to Ergon, or Energex and try and get those power lines removed before the construction site even starts. Eliminate the hazard completely. That's about it for me. But, once again, please, get on those app stores and download that app and get yourself a plan. Thanks a lot.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks Cookie. As he mentioned, get yourself a plan. There's the app. The details you've seen on your screen. And we thank you, Cookie, for joining us here this morning. And I note we've already got some questions for you. So you better get ready. Get all your info right. And if you do have a question for Cookie, or for Dan and Ed, who are joining us shortly, or for Mark for that matter, don't forget, submit your questions. Type your full name and question via the chat box to the right of the screen.

Chris Bombolas:

Well, let's take another twist in our presentation this morning, and we're going to talk to the guys from Trademutt, Dan Allen and Ed Ross. Now, it's an Australian workwear brand that aims to make Tradies look and feel great at work. And these two look great this morning, and they've set the whole mood in the studio this morning. And in doing so, by having that feel and that look, it reduces the rate of male suicide. We're talking about things. We don't feel awkward. Dan and Ed founded the Trademutt brand after Dan lost his best mate to suicide back in 2016. The loud and vibrant shirts act as a catalyst to start a conversation, which quite often, for most of us, is a bit prickly to actually begin. So we need a starting point. And maybe this gear will give us that starting point around mental health, particularly in males. Ladies and gentleman, welcome Dan and Ed.

Dan Allen:

Well thanks very much for having us here today guys, we are super happy to be here. So as we were introduced, I'm Dan Allen, and this is Ed Ross, we're the co-founders of Trademutt. Trademutt's a social enterprise workwear company by Tradies for Tradies, and we make funky eye-catching workwear, designed to act as a catalyst to starting conversations about mental health and make that invisible issue impossible to ignore.

Dan Allen:

Now it's important on R U Okay? Day today to preface this by outlining exactly where our position is in the mental health space for trades and the blue collar sector. So we aim to drive the social and cultural shift required to all our blokes, Tradies, blue collar workers, to find it a little bit easier to open up and actually talk about mental health.

Dan Allen:

To set the tone, it's important to give you a bit of a background to the story of how Ed and I met, and how we came to be the founders of Trademutt. Ed and I met on a building site. I was a few years out in my trade, and Ed was a greenhorn, fresh off a stint wrangling cattle in Central West Queensland. And Ed had a healthy appetite for knowledge, or was extremely annoying, as people liked to describe, and I was very patient, so I got lumped with this bloke.

Dan Allen:

We formed a formidable relationship on site, and as we tend to do to get ourselves through our days, we talk a whole lot of nonsense. You know, what would you do if you won the lotto? Or what kind of businesses can we start to maybe get off the tools? We had an idea about creating some funky workwear. We thought there's nothing out there in the market. We thought that we're sick of wearing the same old khaki and high viz to work. We thought, "Come on, let's make a difference here." So we went to Office Works, we bought a pack of pencils and we printed out some paper and we started designing.

Dan Allen:

So what you can see here is probably the next Melbourne Cup winning jockey silks. Of course, you can see the polka dots there on the left, that's a very ground-breaking design that we came up with. But, of course, we're never going to produce such an ugly polka dot shirt. And we made the polka dot shirt. So obviously, we know nothing about building shirts. We can build a house, but we definitely can't build a shirt at this stage. So yeah, that polka dot design was something we just thought, "Well let's see if we can get a shirt made." Ed wore that shirt to work every day for, what, two months?

Ed Ross:

Three months I think.

Dan Allen:

Three months. Washed it every single day. It's covered in Sikaflex, silicone, all sorts of stuff. But we were worried the ink is going to run. So that's where we're at with producing a fashion brand. So fast forward two-and-a-half years, and we've actually implemented some designers and a production team to help us navigate that journey. But a very important message that appears on the top right hand pocket of all our shirts, the letters YMWA.

Dan Allen:

So the reason why we got into the mental health space, obviously, as been mentioned previously, I lost one of my best mates to suicide in 2015. Now it was my first experience with suicide, and something that really changed both of our lives and really highlighted the fact that there was a real lack of understanding around the mental health space in Australia, particularly for blokes, particularly in the blue collar industry.

Dan Allen:

We really wanted to take a bit more of a light hearted approach. Now that YMWA stands for, you'll never walk alone. So my best mate Dan, who took his life, was a die hard Liverpool supporter. And so if you're familiar with English Premier League and Liverpool, that's the song that they sing to their team before every game. It'll put the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. So that's a tribute to Dan, and it's also a message for anyone wearing any of our gear, that you're part of our community, and you will never walk alone. So fast forward two-and-a-half years, and we've got a few cool prints and we've come a long way from the polka dot shirts.

Ed Ross:

Oh, that one.

Dan Allen:

Now so whenever anyone comes onboard with Trademutt, they get that card, which we just skipped past, but it's, you take on a responsibility to show empathy, show vulnerability, and always take a non judgmental approach. Now one thing that we never saw coming when we started this journey, was that we were actually going to be able to empower people to talk about their own mental health.

Dan Allen:

So when we started this thing, the message was simple. I wear this shirt, I send a message to you that I'm okay to talk about anything that you might want to talk about, whether onsite or off site, I don't judge, and I'm always there for you. But this guy here, Carl, a Chippy from New Zealand, really broke ground for us. "Initially, I bought some shirts because I wanted to support the cause, but I found that wearing them has actually helped me too. I generally don't like attention. I'm not a fan of groups of people, and I'd rather hang out quietly in the background and do my own thing. But there's no hiding while rocking one of these bad boys. I can feel the looks when I'm in public on and off site, but I no longer care. I own it, I lift my chin, and I strut. Maybe not that dramatic, but it feels like it to me. I feel my own anxieties fade and I have a new-found confidence in myself and I very much like that." We've managed to partner with a few awesome organizations around Queensland and in Australia. Pictured here with the Hutchies Crew.

Ed Ross:

Oh, clicker. Clicker.

Dan Allen:

And we managed to crack into a few mine sites. Townsville City Council, where serves us down there as well. And that's big Ken Ross, Ed's old boy on the top right hand corner, who's never talked about mental health in his life until now.

Ed Ross:

Right-oh, so this is where I come in. So how does Trademutt take action and make a positive difference? So obviously, as we've spoken about, we've got a large range of funky out-there workwear and products that act as a catalyst to starting conversations about mental health not just once a year, but on a daily basis. Being able to build a brand with a couple of rough melons behind it. So Dan and I have been putting ourselves out there, showing a lot of vulnerability and trying to set a really good example for everyone out there that it's okay to speak up, talk to your mate, and seek help when needed.

Ed Ross:

Got a really large digital footprint at the moment, so we've been able to expand across our Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and with our podcasting as well. So we started Trademutt's 120 podcast, the podcast for the working class. We've had a wide variety of guests on there. Guys like Greg Martin, Darren Lockyer, David Shillington. We had John Millman on there the other day. J.C. from Powderfinger. Them all talking about their life experience and stuff that they've been through, resilience and how they've overcome some major hurdles in their life, and how mental health doesn't discriminate.

Ed Ross:

We've got Trademutt Toolbox Talk. So much like this, except not quite the production level. On the last Tuesday of every month, we get an industry professional to come in and speak about their field. Last month we had Lachie Stewart from the Man that Can Project, talking about the eight fundamentals that all men must master. Vertical integration with aligned projects. So, being a social enterprise ourselves, we've worked with social enterprise and non for profit manufacturing over in Cambodia to make our hoodies for this winter with the SHE Rescue Home. We're also working with SendAble, which is a third party logistics company, which warehouse and dispatch all of our products and orders every day. And they're people that work with Multicap with intellectual disability. So it's really rewarding for us to be able to make an impact through our supply chain.

Ed Ross:

And then, 5% of all our profits go into our non for profit foundation called This Is A Conversation Starter, which is... So Trademutt's 120 podcast. So you can see this on YouTube or on any podcast app. So you can see there, we've had a wide variety of guests. Sam Gardel is a good mate of ours who is a electrical business owner here in Brisbane, and he talks about his journey of starting his own business, running into some financial trouble, and then rebuilding himself, and seeking help and how that's made such a massive difference to he and his life. Here's a short clip of Matty Boise. He's a carpenter here in Brissy, and also a good mate of Gardie's and we had him on the podcast.

Matty:

How many other people just need to sit next to their mate and just go, "Hey look, I'm struggling." And then him or her to go back, "Yeah, me too." And then there's that connection, and then there's that authentic human connection where you can share your stories. That's pretty much where it was born from.

Ed Ross:

It's an interesting story, because I remember the planning apprentice, when he first reached out to us two years ago.

Dan Allen:

Jimmy?

Ed Ross:

Jimmy.

Dan Allen:

I don't think he listens.

Ed Ross:

He'd be surely listening. Jimmy, he messaged us. It's the first time he ever reached out to us. He was at TAFE on the North side, and it was smoko time or something and he's gone outside and there was a guy wearing a Trademutt shirt, and he sat down and started having a smoko with him and couple of other guys sat down and they were talking. And they basically just laid it all out that they were all struggling, they were all going through different shit, but they're all in the trenches together. And that's always stuck with me, because he was like, "No one there was trying to solve each other's problems. We were just all there knowing that we're all fucking in this together." You know what I mean?

Ed Ross:

Yeah, Trademutt Toolbox Talks. So as we were saying, at the last Tuesday of every month we get industry professionals to come on and talk to our audience. It's completely free, and you can come on and see professionals in their field talk about different areas of mental health and mental well-being, and how we can make improvements in our lives. Here's the SHE Rescue Home, as we were saying, made our hoodies this year. And then we're also been working with the Work Restart Program, which is people that are incarcerated currently, but are getting some really essential skills for live outside of prison. So they've been making some products for us as well, so boot covers and our grill skirts, barbecue aprons.

Dan Allen:

So TIACS is our charity that we've also founded off the success of Trademutt. So being able to sell some shirts has also been able to allow us to form and establish our own charity, and really complete the circle of what we consider to be our full circle approach to mental health. So as I said, Trademutt is driving the social and cultural shift around talking about mental health, but what happens when you might strike up a conversation with someone who goes a little deeper and maybe you're not sure how to help them, but you know they need to be referred onto somewhere else. Well, that's where TIACS comes in.

Dan Allen:

So whether you're a Tradie, a Truckie, or blue collar worker, don't let it get any harder. Text or call This Is A Conversation Starter. You can see the number up there on the screen. So TIACS removes the physical and financial barriers that exist preventing Tradies, Truckies and blue collar workers from being able to access professional mental health support. And we know what it's like, when we were a Tradie, we spent up to 10, 12 hours a day on site, and there might be very little time to actually go and make an appointment with the GP, get onto a mental health plan, and then go and make an appointment with a psychologist and actually get some of that help you need.

Dan Allen:

We're removing those barriers, we want to make it as easy as possible. You can text, you can call. You can call as many times as you want. We also practice outbound, so we will, the TIACS Foundation will also check back in with anyone who reaches out. You can use it on the dunny, you can use it at smoko, you can use it in bed at night. It's very easy guys, and we'd encourage anyone to reach out and practice that help seeking behaviour.

Dan Allen:

This is a bit of an old picture to be honest, when we say we've built this whole organization from the ground up. This is our warehouse out of Morningside. Podcast room down the bottom, and we've just added a level at the top there, on top of that second story there, which is housing our psychologists. So we've got a big task ahead of us and through shirt sales, Trademutt currently funds two full-time psychologists to be able to provide free support for anyone who needs it. So we're currently unfunded by the government, but we could use all the support that we can get.

Ed Ross:

What's this one? This is a new one.

Dan Allen:

Skip through it.

Ed Ross:

Right guys, just to finalize obviously, it's R U Okay Day today, and obviously there's a massive groundswell around mental health on a day like today. We need to remember it's important to look after your mental health every day. So if you or anyone you know wants to access private sector mental health professional, please reach out to the TIACS Foundation and get the help you deserve. And you can also see more at tiacs.org.

Dan Allen:

One key take away guys is, as Ed said, on R U Okay? Day, a lot of statistics around mental health and a lot of them can look very scary. There's one statistic that really does matter, and it's that 100% of us actually do have mental health, just as we have nutritional and physical health. Nothing to be afraid of, and it's something that we all need to embrace and talk about more. So to reach out, our website details are there. And thank you very much for the time today guys.

Ed Ross:

Cheers.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks very much guys. On a serious note, if you, or a friend, or a colleague, or a work mate is struggling, then here are some key contacts that will come in handy for professional help. We heard from Matt Rogers a couple of days ago just how important professional help is when problems are identified. We are not all problem solvers and we are not professionals, and there's a few organizations that do a fantastic job, particularly in the mental health space.

Chris Bombolas:

If you've got a question of Dan and Ed, or of Cookie, or of Mark from earlier, we're about to open the panel session and all you have to do is submit your question. I've got one for you two guys to consider, while you're catching your breath and we're getting ready for our panel session. Having seen the gear that you've got, the workwear and how colourful it is, and it's out there, and a conversation starter. I want to know, particularly with my boss sitting in the audience over there, whether you'd consider branching off maybe into casual wear, weekend casual sporting wear. It's very popular with the young kids these days. And for me personally, I'd like to have some gear like that to wear into the corporate office. What do you reckon?

Dan Allen:

Are you saying you want to look like that?

Chris Bombolas:

Oh, I don't know if I could get away with thongs? I don't know if we can pan that camera down, but part of their work gear, and let's have a look, down there, it's shorts. They look like New South Wales shorts. I'm a bit worried about that, but there's a new corporate look.

Ed Ross:

Yeah mate, you can't take yourself too seriously. We've got a range of products coming out. We've actually got Australian-made and Australia cotton T-shirts coming out in the next couple of weeks that's really exciting. So it's cotton from St. George, and been made in Brissy. So it's really good.

Chris Bombolas:

Particularly at this time, it's really important to support local industry, isn't it?

Ed Ross:

Absolutely.

Chris Bombolas:

And all our producers and local manufacturers.

Ed Ross:

Exactly.

Dan Allen:

Do what we can where we can.

Ed Ross:

And we've got some hoodies and stuff as well, so plenty of stuff coming.

Chris Bombolas:

And thank you for our vouchers. And don't forget all the people who ask a question today go into the draw. We've got five vouchers, a 100 bucks each. And get some good gear for that, can't they?

Ed Ross:

Get in there. Get in there.

Chris Bombolas:

Time now for the panel session. I better bring this back into order. Some sort of order. It's hard with those two, I've got to tell you. The two to my right are much more...

Mark:

Professional.

Chris Bombolas:

Sedate and professional. And then I go over here to the two amateurs. So anyway, lets get into the panel session. Thanks for your questions. Keep asking them. We'll try to get through as many as we can. Mark, you're first up. I see you're nice and relaxed. This comes from Kylie. How do you gauge if someone has what it takes to be a good trades person? And are there certain qualities you look for in an apprentice?

Mark:

I think that's an easy one to be honest. It's all about attitude. To be honest, mate, I've worked with some apprentices or trade assistants that weren't the best, they weren't the most skilled. They weren't the smartest, they weren't the fastest, but who had a great attitude. And I mean, attitude will get you a lot further sometimes than brain smart. So one thing I've always looked is for, if they've got to have a great attitude towards learning and wanting to know stuff, and being keen, then, yeah. So I'll always look for the right attitude more than strength, or fastness or that. Attitude's number one.

Chris Bombolas:

So the attitude can then help with their ability, and they can learn if they [crosstalk 00:48:46].

Mark:

Yeah, if you've got a great attitude, you can be moulded in a great tradesman with the correct training. Yeah, definitely.

Chris Bombolas:

Thank you. That was for you, Kylie. Now to the Trademutt boys, this comes from Nev, Nev Atkinson. Would you consider making arc-related clothes?

Ed Ross:

All our work shirts currently are 100% cotton. So they should be all good to go. I don't think we've got the arc-

Dan Allen:

We don't have the accreditation.

Ed Ross:

... accreditation but yeah, they are a 100% cotton.

Chris Bombolas:

Cool. Right. We're already there? Excellent.

Dan Allen:

If the demand is there, then definitely, as we expand. We're just a growing business, so we're just trying to keep up with demand currently as it is, but most definitely in the future it'd be great to produce both FR and arc-related clothing and get all the Sparkies on board.

Chris Bombolas:

Well, after today's broad reaching podcast and our webinar today, that little place in Morningside might need a bit of work.

Dan Allen:

It needs a bit of work anyway.

Chris Bombolas:

Let's move onto our next question. This comes from Elsa, and it's to you, Mark, again. What's your advice to apprentices who feel like they've been asked to do something that is not right, but they don't have the confidence to speak. They're not sure. They really have a gut feel that they shouldn't be doing it, but they're being coerced to do it.

Mark:

I can understand that may be hard if you're maybe 18 years old and your boss is some old tough Tradie. My advice would be speak to them, but if you can't do that, you're a bit worried, speak to some of your other colleagues. Speak to the other people you work with. And if that doesn't work, speak to me and I'll speak to your boss. That's not a problem. But no, I understand they might be a bit worried, "Oh, the boss pays my wages," but-

Chris Bombolas:

Nothing like a ferocious Scotsman confronting a boss.

Mark:

... Yeah, just give me a shout man, and I'll go see your boss man. But don't be scared to speak up, because nobody should be asking you to do something you don't feel comfortable doing. But speak to your other colleagues, or speak to someone else that can help you out, or speak to me. But don't be afraid to speak out, and don't be afraid to ask the wrong questions or that, but just try and get that confidence to speak the truth.

Chris Bombolas:

Excellent, now what we can get you to do is then wear the Trademutt gear, go out to the work site, and encourage that person to do the right thing.

Mark:

Yeah.

Chris Bombolas:

Excellent. Right, we've got it all wrapped up in one. Let's move to question from Jake and this one is aimed at you, Cookie. So your turn my friend. What's your advice for those wanting to stay in the electrical industry for a lifelong career, and what kind of training and development opportunities would you recommend for someone who's starting out and wants to make it a life long career? You've had 30 years plus.

Cookie:

I suppose the first thing is to find something you're really passionate about. I obviously really enjoyed being an electrician, but like Mark said, you got to have a good attitude, and you got to want to learn. You really can't wait for someone to give you those opportunities. You need to go, find that thing you're passionate about, do some training in it. I was lucky enough to get into some management type roles and had very good mentors. So you got to find someone that's got the knowledge that's willing to give it to you, right? And then I did a bit of a management type diploma, but I also got into training as well. So training helps me do these presentations that I've got to do a lot. So just depends on where you think your career path is going, but you got to find something you're really passionate about.

Chris Bombolas:

Just a follow-up question on that. I'll put my old journo hat on. A young Sparkie, you got the apprentice, and they've got to go tech, got to go to TAFE, do their paperwork and all that sort of stuff. And they quite often don't really want to go there, or they think, "Oh, it's a bit of time off work." How important is that in their career overall? And either of you could answer that one. Some of them have the attitude of, "Oh, a couple of hours off. I'll just attend here and I'll tick off the boxes and do my little paperwork."

Mark:

Oh, I think the theory side of going to tech's massive. If you want a full career in being a Sparkie, there's so many different industries within the electrical industry, and having the knowledge or the theory behind how electrics work's massive. Because you've got a lot of guys that [inaudible 00:53:14] the best on the tools with their hands, but they're really book smart, and you've got the opposite. So if you can work together and lean off each other, you'll be a good Sparkie.

Chris Bombolas:

Cookie?

Cookie:

Never be afraid to ask a question. No one knows everything. You have to ask. Someone might assume that you know something when you get to the first day of your... into your apprenticeship, first day of your trade and all of a sudden you're expected to know everything? Well, you don't. You need to ask questions and gain knowledge. Like I said, find a good mentor.

Chris Bombolas:

And you blokes have been in the industry a long time. Do you constantly update your skills? So do you read through trade magazines or update, go on courses, do whatever needs to be done?

Mark:

We do CPD points, definitely. Yeah, we have to in certain sub industries in it. But I prefer learning off old people to be honest. I've got a lot of older engineers that work with us and I'm always asking them like, "Well, you told me how that works, but explain to me exactly how it works." Do you know what I mean? So I would always ask the older guys. And what I've always said to the younger apprentices is like, "See when you got your driving license and you're driving cars. That's you just learning to drive. You know how to drive, but you've not been on the road with a thousand other cars there." It's the same as being a Sparkie. As soon as you get that little green card, then you're just starting your career as a Sparkie, so you're always learning.

Chris Bombolas:

All right, let's move onto our next question. It comes from Alicia Kitty, it's for the boys from Trademutt. When will your hoodies be back in stock? Is this not one of your...?

Ed Ross:

They arrived on Monday. I don't know why they aren't on the website yet. I'll be having a stern word with our eCommerce manager when I get back in the office. No, I'm joking.

Dan Allen:

We're supposed to be talking about mental health, not hoodies, Alicia.

Ed Ross:

Yeah, no, there should be some on the website, hopefully today or tomorrow.

Chris Bombolas:

Oh, clearly an in-house one this one, was it?

Ed Ross:

I don't know who's done that.

Dan Allen:

Someone's going to get a grilling when we get back to the warehouse.

Chris Bombolas:

They better start sweeping and tidying up the Morningside head office, all right? Let's go to Dan and Ed, we'll stay down this end. Comes from Kev. What's been your biggest achievement since starting Trademutt?

Dan Allen:

That's a really hard question to answer, Kev. But thank you. Since we've started this journey, we've gone from being two Chippies, with a combined 15 years experience on the tools, and we learned a lot of manual labour skills, and how to work as part of a team and all that sort of stuff. Never did we think we would be able to take those skills and transfer them and to become a couple social entrepreneurs who're also founders of a mental health charity.

Dan Allen:

So the whole journey to this point has been absolutely incredible. Every day we shake ourselves and think, "How are we in this position?" But we know that this is exactly where we're supposed to be. Getting a high viz shirt here was a massive thing for us. To be able to build a team, now we've got a team of about 14 across both Trademutt and the TIACS Foundation. Establishing our podcast. But even as simple as having some of the conversations that we have with people on a daily basis, and how much Trademutt has positively impacted our lives. It's absolutely priceless and we're super grateful to be in this position, and we know that we're only just at the start of a long journey ahead. So it's a really rewarding one.

Chris Bombolas:

To the guys in the colourful gear, this one's from Amusta Faziyah. Does Trademutt have a plan to approach local government councils?

Dan Allen:

So as I said in our presentation, Trademutt's actually currently unfunded by government. We've got a few shirts in the Brisbane City Council at the moment. But basically, all we can do is keep driving this ship forward, make as much noise as we can and wait for the councils to come to us at this stage, because you can spend a lot of time banging down doors, trying to get into government departments, but at the end of the day we just got to keep driving this bad boy and hopefully they come and find us.

Chris Bombolas:

You get that corporate gear that I'm talking about, and they'll be knocking your doors down.

Dan Allen:

Well, we'll be ready.

Chris Bombolas:

To Mark, let's get back over to the other side. Comes from Julie. How has this accident shaped the way you feel, or you deal with client pressure?

Mark:

It's more, you just need to be confident. So I've managing it from the point of sale now. So, addressing with the larger clients that power needs to go off at some point and maybe multiple times, not just for final connections of equipment, but we may need to be turning power off for assessments. So that was one thing that you see with the video that we had a bit of client pressure not to turn the power off. So address basically at the point of sale with the BDMs right away. Obviously, if this is going to go ahead then power's going to need to go off. It may need to go off at multiple times as well as for data logging. So we've addressed that right at the start and it's black and white now. There's no-

Chris Bombolas:

So, no compromise for you. If that client is not prepared to turn the power off, you're not prepared to do the work.

Mark:

... If that client doesn't want to turn the power off, I don't want him as a client, basically.

Chris Bombolas:

And you express that each and every job.

Mark:

Yes, more so now than ever. Before it was trying to be about accommodating. Like we all are, as humans, we want to accommodate everybody, we want to try and keep everyone happy. But sometimes we just need to take that stance and say, "Look, mate. The power's going off, man. If you want to get a backup generator in, if you want to get UPS or that in, yeah, we can organize that. But it needs to get it done safely."

Chris Bombolas:

Have you had any blow back about that stance.

Mark:

No, you can't. Once you're firm with it, and you explain to them it's safety, and you don't... It's like you let them know that it's not flexible, it's like, "This is the way it needs to be and if you want somebody else to do it without doing that, then on you go, mate." So you just need to be firm with them and stand by it.

Chris Bombolas:

All right, back to the Trademutt boys from Nate Kirmer. How is the five percent of profit spent by the charity to help tackle mental health?

Ed Ross:

So actually, last financial year, we donated 25% of our profits, which was awesome. And basically, it's all spent on getting psychologists on the phone. So the TIACS Foundation doesn't do any marketing or any paid advertising like that. It's all literally just for our psychologists and for our CEO to be able to run it. So that's how it's spent, having psychologists on the phone currently from 9:00 to 5:00, Monday to Friday.

Dan Allen:

We're currently funding two full-time psychologists just through shirt sales, and that's free to access for anyone who needs it.

Chris Bombolas:

So they just dial a number and...

Dan Allen:

Dial up, yeah. Text, call. You can have a short consult. You can have a longer one. You can come back and back as many times as you need.

Chris Bombolas:

All discreet like all those other-

Dan Allen:

Yeah, everything, yeah, but it's just basically removing all those steps, all those barriers that it might take otherwise for someone to actually get to a psychologist, which for Tradies who work the hours that we do, can be really tough to do. So we want to make it as easy as possible.

Chris Bombolas:

... Because if they've got enough courage to make that call, sometimes we're just a bit hesitant about actually coming up with details and all that sort of stuff. So you've made that initial approach, so here's a great avenue to continue the conversation.

Dan Allen:

Exactly. We know how many blokes actually struggle with help seeking behaviour, and so it's really important for us to desensitize that and make it as easy and chilled out as possible to really make that first interaction with a mental health professional a really positive one. So that's our focus.

Chris Bombolas:

So basically, another question from Donna, and we say thanks to Donna for her question. What's your advice to Tradies that can see a mate struggling and how should they reach out? This is a very common question. We've done these for the construction industry, for many other industries where we've got beefy, burly guys who don't show emotion, and all of a sudden you notice that someone's struggling. How should they reach out? How do we start? How do we progress it?

Dan Allen:

I think it's a really fine line. It's actually quite a balancing act to not be too forceful when it comes to this mental health stuff. If you can see someone who's struggling, you want to help lead that horse to water, as we say, but you can't actually force that person to reach out and seek the help that they need. So in those instances, all we can do is put as many resources around that person as we can, inform the right people. If you're worried about that person, maybe have a yarn with the boss. Let them know that the TIACS text line is by Tradies for Tradies. So it's very non confrontational, quite easy to use.

Dan Allen:

But otherwise, making yourself aware of the services that are out there. And one of the biggest things is, if you do see someone that's struggling, you want to be able to show vulnerability yourself. One of the best ways to allow someone else to open up and actually address the fact that they might be doing it tough, is to talk about some of your own struggles. There's nothing like just coming in hard out of the gate and saying, "Mate, what's wrong?" It's never going to work. You got to chill it out. Maybe take it to the pub, have a beer and just shoot the breeze like mates. Build that connection, build that relationship, and that's how we really cut through.

Chris Bombolas:

Over to you, Mark, for our next question. It comes from Harrison. After your accident, was it difficult to return to the workplace? Especially working on switchboards, considering how horrific your own personal story was.

Mark:

I think we're getting a lot of questions this morning. It must be those Trademutt vouchers that they'll get. I think there was a little bit of hesitance going back. Initially, reopening switchboards and being around electricity. But it's just something that I've mentally dealt with. There was a little bit of hesitancy. It's a common question a lot of mates, as well as colleagues have asked me. To be honest, as long as you're switching the power off, you've nothing to be scared of, do you know what I mean? But it's more just when you still need to prove that the power's off. There is that slight, when you need to prove if it's dead, it may not be dead. I think I struggled a little bit initially, but since nothing is holding me back. So it was a little bit of a struggle, I'm not going to lie, but it is since something that's just, so I just walked through it.

Chris Bombolas:

All right. We thank Terry for his question, and this one's aimed at Cookie and yourself, Mark. And it's your top tips for supervisors managing apprentices today is all about apprentices and their supervisors, and we thank them for joining us today. Some top tips. Something that they really should adhere to.

Cookie:

Well, I think empathy. You got to empathize with that apprentice. We've been apprentices as well, so put yourself back in those shoes and go, "What would I want my supervisor to do for me?" Give him a bit of time to learn. Give him that little bit of extra time. If it's a rush job, it's probably not the job for the apprentice. But just empathy, and don't forget to ask questions. Nobody knows everything, I mentioned it before.

Mark:

I second everything Cookie's just said there. It's time, spending time with the apprentice and understanding where they are in their life. When they're an 18-year-old kid, they're going to go out and get on the drink. Do you know what I mean? They're going to turn up late. Do you know what I mean? It's like don't... Oh, I nearly swore there. But you don't really want to come down hard on them, because they're young boys, they're going to mess up. Do you know what I mean? They're going to maybe crash the work van, they're going to make mistakes.

Mark:

But just put yourself in their shoes and be firm with them when you have to be. If they keep messing something up like, "Well, why are you not understanding us?" Like, "What is it that you're not getting." Spending the extra time with them and just don't give up on them because they broke your new Milwaukee drill or something. That's just part of having an apprentice, do you know what I mean? It's part of learning for them. So just spend that time and empathize with them and just respect them as well, being young boys.

Chris Bombolas:

Respect them. Be understanding. Probably a bit of flexibility. And I reckon you two will agree with this, communication is important. Always communicate with them. I don't know how many times I've heard apprentices say, "Oh you know, my boss just goes off, does something else. I don't see him the whole day." How about a bit of a conversation during the day? See if they're all right, see if they're coping, and regular.

Mark:

Yes, definitely.

Cookie:

Yeah, supervision. I mean you got to be there to advise them, to lead them.

Chris Bombolas:

All right. We have to wrap up our panel session, but look, I wanted to pose a question to all of you, just to have a think about this particular issue. We are here specifically for supervisors and apprentices. What's one piece of advice, and we'll go around the circle, that you would give to apprentices starting out in the electrical industry? You guys more from a working point of view, and a general work site. You guys specifically from maybe an electrical industry point of view. So Mark, you first.

Mark:

I'll give one initial bit of advice, don't buy cheap tools, okay?

Chris Bombolas:

Or work gear.

Mark:

Yeah, the boss should be buying you that. That should all come free. But not thongs, but okay, sorry. I don't think we'll get past WHS guys. But, no, seriously just ask questions, learn. Do you know what I mean? To be a good Sparkie you don't need to be good at everything, but if you've got a good knowledge base you can turn your hand to a lot of things. Just enjoy it though. Do you know what I mean? You're going to do this for 10 hours a day or longer at times. So just have fun and enjoy it and don't put up with any shit, do you know what I mean?

Chris Bombolas:

Despite what happened to you, are you still enjoying your trade? And B, do you have regrets?

Mark:

I'm a Sparkie man, through and through. I've been off the tools for a few years, but I still have my most satisfying days when I put the boots and that on and go and spend a day on site with the boys. You'll never beat that Tradie banter. I don't know what it's like, but I do know what it's like in offices, and I'll tell you one thing, the banter on site is a lot better. And another bit of advice would be is, you need to be able to take it if you're given it on site, man. Don't be shy if you're getting a little bit of banter, if you're getting the piss taken out of you, because it's all part of being an apprentice man, and you'll be able to do it to someone else after.

Chris Bombolas:

We don't officially no. We're not going, no, no, no.

Mark:

But enjoy it. You've got to enjoy it, don't you?

Chris Bombolas:

Cookie.

Cookie:

I was starting, thinking through my head, and he mentioned everything I was going to say. But I think the big thing is asking those questions, because when I was an apprentice, I thought that I was expected to know stuff. And you learn it through your trade, but I should've asked more questions. Find out from someone that knows. Find yourself a really good mentor, and that doesn't necessarily need to be your boss. If you know someone else is a good electrician or anything like that. I was lucky to have very good mentors.

Chris Bombolas:

When you're saying questions, it should be from either end. It should be from the apprentice to the supervisor, and even the supervisor back to the apprentice.

Mark:

What I've done in the past is that I initiate a question, but instead of telling them the answer, I was like, "Work it out." Like, "Do you understand why we're doing this? Do you understand what insulation resistant is? Do you understand why we want a high megohm reading? Do you understand the physics behind it? Not just, "Oh, great, 500 megohm." But do you know what that is measuring?" If they just say, "Yeah, yeah, I get it." Explain it to them.

Cookie:

I think one more thing too is, the electrical industry is so vast, right? You can go in so many different angles. Find out the one that you like the most, and push your career in that angle.

Chris Bombolas:

Great advice. You guys from a Tradie point of view, rather than specifically just the electrical industry. Some advice for those starting out, other than get your boss to buy Trademutt gear, right?

Ed Ross:

I suppose obviously asking heaps of questions was one thing I did as an apprentice. But I think the most important thing, if it's not for you, don't grit your teeth and push yourself through it, if it's not what you want to do. I mean, Dan and I are two Chippies by trade and now we don't do anything on the tools. I mean, we're on a laptop, on a phone, and Dan's on Instagram for about six hours of every day now. So don't think you've got to commit yourself to something that you don't enjoy. I mean, if it's for you, that's fantastic. If it's not, there's so many more opportunities out there. So don't put yourself through something you're not enjoying.

Dan Allen:

And I'd probably jump in and say, for a long time trades have been looked upon as a second rate career, I suppose. But I can guarantee you that there's literally no better career pathway for anyone to learn all the skills required to be successful in any industry that they try their hand at. Becoming a Tradie allows you to learn working as part of a team, you learn practical skills. You get to see a job from start to finish, and you get to partake in all the processes that are involved to make that happen and bring that to life. So these skills are absolutely invaluable and can set you up to either excel in your trade and take it as far as you want to go, or it can give you the grounding to try your hand at absolutely anything that you want to do from that point.

Dan Allen:

The skills that you learn as a Tradie are so valuable, and that work ethic is something that a lot of other people miss out on, particularly at a young age. So if you're a young apprentice, understand that you've got an opportunity to really hone in on some practical life skills that can be applied anywhere. And who knows, you might even try your hand at starting a charity, or becoming a social entrepreneur, or absolutely anything else related to the trade industry. So it's a very exiting opportunity. Make the most of it.

Chris Bombolas:

Olivia has snuck one final question in for all of you, so we'll be brief with this one, but it's a good one. I like it. Are you guys seeing more and more women starting out in the electrical and construction trades? Like in the trades industry, broadly speaking.

Dan Allen:

In our little world there's fantastic representation of females in the trade workforce. So it's awesome to see a lot of the strong, confident and very highly qualified women who are excelling in the trade. So there are no limiting factors to being able to become a Tradie now, and it's awesome to see how many women are taking up a trade and really excelling and having really good support networks around them to empower them to keep going. Because it can be tough, as Mark mentioned. We come from work sites so there's a lot of banter. It's been a culture that we've set for a long time. But it's shifting. We're becoming more open about our mental health. We're becoming far more accepting of having women around us who are just as good as everyone else. And so that's fantastic to see.

Chris Bombolas:

And they are a little less brutal on the work van. They don't drive them as hard as the blokes. Seriously.

Dan Allen:

That's true. Actually, we get a lot of feedback from the females on site are actually the ones who a lot of guys go up to, to talk to. So when we're talking about this mental health stuff, we get lots of feedback, particularly from the women on site. They say that a lot of guys feel like they're more approachable to talk about some of the stuff that they're struggling with. So that's a huge added bonus for a lot of sites out there.

Chris Bombolas:

For you guys in the electrical industry, just to bring us home, Mark and Cookie.

Mark:

I've actually worked with female electricians nearly with every company I've worked with. Not especially within the company, but on the same building sites. Not a lot of them, but there's been one dotted here and there. And they've been capable of doing the work. Especially being a Sparkie, it's not as hardcore as a Brickie and all that, muscle wise and strength wise. I've came across a few of them, man. They've been decent tradespeople, would it be? It can't be tradesmen, is it? Trades person? I just want to get my PC right.

Ed Ross:

Tradies.

Mark:

Yeah, Tradie, yeah. But yeah, you see them.

Cookie:

Obviously, short and sweet, but, yes. Basically, I do a lot of trades from road transport, construction and obviously, agriculture and I'm seeing an increase in female representation. Particularly in safety as well.

Chris Bombolas:

All right, we might wrap it up there. Thanks everybody for joining us for our very special presentation today. Winners of today's Trademutt vouchers will be announced on Wednesday the 16th of September via the Electrical Safety Office Facebook page. As we've said all morning, there's five $100 Trade vouchers up for grabs on that Facebook page for all of those who have taken part. After this week we'll post a question for electrical workers. Answer the question correctly, and you'll be in that draw for those vouchers. I would encourage all of you who joined us today to head to the electricalsafety.qld.gov.au to watch the webinar again, along with a wide range of other electrical safety information and resources. Share it with your friends, with your work colleagues, with those in the industry. We'd really appreciate that.

Chris Bombolas:

We will be emailing all of you a feedback survey very, very shortly. We really value your feedback. It helps us shape events like this, particularly now that a lot of our events have gone digital and they're in a whole new world. We would appreciate your feedback, whether you like something, you want more of, less of, whatever it might be, and we use those to formulate events in the future.

Chris Bombolas:

Can I say, on behalf of the Office of Industrial Relations and the Electrical Safety Office, thanks to our guests today. To Dan and Ed from Trademutt, thanks for the vouchers. Thanks for your support. Keep up the great work, and I hope to see this huge factory soon, or business outlet in Morningside with a café out the front that we can come and have a café and perhaps open difficult discussions that we've struggled with in the past.

Ed Ross:

A 100%.

Dan Allen:

Seems like a great idea.

Chris Bombolas:

Seems like a great idea. Well, get to work on that. And to Glen Cook, and Mark. Thank you for joining us. Some great insight into what is a wonderful industry.

Cookie:

Thank you.

Chris Bombolas:

And to you, for joining us. I hope you enjoyed our ESO presentations. Not just today, but from the last couple of days. We've certainly had great pleasure in presenting them to you and we hope that you've taken a lot in, and taken a lot back to your workplace. But for today, which is R U Okay? Day, and World Suicide Day, be brave enough to ask a mate, a friend, a family member, a colleague, anyone, "What's happening in your world?" It could save someone's life. Till next time we meet, stay safe.

[End of Transcript]