Greyhound industry mandatory qualifications a real possibility

Industry Update

A NATIONAL set of qualifications could become mandatory for all greyhound racing participants in order to be involved within the industry.

Feedback is being sought on the “Greyhound Project” was initiated by the Racing Industry Reference Committee which is responsible for building training products for the various racing codes in Australia.

The project seeks to update existing national qualifications so they reflect the current skills requirements of industry.

Once completed, qualifications within the Greyhound Project will be nationally recognised and delivered by TAFEs and other registered training organisations.

These skill sets could eventually be used as mandatory training qualifications for greyhound racing participants if approved by the various state authority bodies.

A spokesperson from Skills Impact, the government funded group in charge of educating various industries in Australia, said the Greyhound Project was well overdue.

The spokesperson said the updated units of competency had not been reviewed since 2008, with the greyhound industry undergoing significant change since then, including a greater emphasis on animal welfare.

“With no review being undertaken in such a long time they are no longer meeting the skill needs of the industry,” the spokesperson said.

“Through this project, consultation is now underway to ensure these units, qualifications and skill sets are up to date, and that they encapsulate racing integrity and animal welfare skills and knowledge critical to the industry.

“The industry is in the spotlight due to a number of issues over the past couple of years. By updating the qualifications, we can help to ensure national training aligns to the current best practises and demonstrates that the industry is up to date.

“The project will ensure that racing integrity and animal welfare skills and knowledge is reflected in all greyhound racing qualifications, units and skill sets.”

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This includes teaching participants about full greyhound life cycle commitments, from the time they are whelped to retirement, and eventually being homed with a ‘forever family’.

“As a result, people in the industry can apply these skills through all stages of the greyhound life cycle, helping greyhounds to have fulfilled lives, both while racing and once their racing career is over,” the spokesperson said.

The Racing Industry Reference Committee is responsible for both the Greyhound Project and the Equine Safety in Training Project which is also in the development stage.

The Greyhounds Project is being led by a Technical Advisory Committee which was formed on the recommendations of experts chosen by the Racing Industry Reference Committee.

The members of the TAC are as follows: Ron Fleming (RWWA), Jane McNicholl (independent), Karen Dawson (Australian Greyhound Veterinary Association), Ray Ferguson (Australian Greyhound Veterinarians), Elizabeth Arnott (Independent), Cecelia Huynh (GRNSW), Paul Marks (GRNSW), Robyn Bell (RQ), Peter Davis (independent), Sonia Davis (independent), Georgina Casper (GRNSW), Peter Wesley (TasRacing), Steven Karamatic (GRV), Heather Villinger (Greyhounds Australasia) and Tony Atkins (Tara Greyhound Equipment).

Of those who are independents, McNicholl is from the University of Adelaide and has previously completed a study on the heat stress in racing dogs. Elizabeth Arnott was the former Chief Veterinary Officer of GRNSW. Sonia and Peter Davis are greyhound owners and breeders, with Peter Davis a media personality and a former GRNSW board member.

Industry consultation is being accepted until close of business on Wednesday April 26 and includes feedback from the first round of consultation which took place between February and March.

With NSW participant licences extended until 2018, it raises the question of whether this training and assessment program will soon become mandatory for anyone seeking involvement within the greyhound racing industry.

The qualifications which could be attained would be either a Certificate II in Racing (Greyhounds) or a Certificate III in Racing (Greyhounds), whilst skill sets would be available for various roles within the industry such as attendants, breeding, catchers, primary educators, rearing and whelping.

Proposed units of competency include:

  • Handle Greyhounds
  • Attend greyhounds during exercise routines
  • Train and race greyhounds
  • Educate a greyhound
  • Coordinate greyhound breeding
  • Whelp greyhounds
  • Rear greyhounds
  • Interpret and respond to greyhound health and welfare
  • Ethically rehome a greyhound
  • Assess health and provide first aid for greyhounds
  • Meet nutritional needs of greyhounds
  • Determine care and treatment needs of greyhounds
  • Transport greyhounds

The Skills Impact spokesperson said the skill sets and qualifications are to be finalised by the end of the financial year, but was unable to comment on whether they are expected to become mandatory across the country.

“It is expected to be endorsed by the AISC and release to www.training.gov.au will be approximately six weeks after that,” the said.

“Registered training organisations will then be able to apply to their regulator to add the qualifications to their scope of delivery.

“The decision for the qualifications, units or skill sets to become mandatory would be up to the state or territory’s Greyhound Racing Controlling Body.”

ARG comment

Where will it end? It is one thing to be all for improving ourselves as well as welfare and integrity – this could be a step too far.

People who have been in the industry for 50 years don’t need to be shown how to train a dog – which could force many of the older generation out of the industry.

It is already a struggle to get new people involved in the industry and this is only going to make it harder with bundles of paperwork to prove that they know how to put a lead on a dog and look after it properly.

I am all for licensing breeders, rearers and breakers – but if hobby trainers have to jump through all these hoops just to train a greyhound – no one will be bothered.

Participants can have their say and provide feedback on the proposed skill sets and qualifications here.