Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan): My constituency question is directed to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and Minister for Solar Homes, the Honourable Lily D’Ambrosio. My question relates to the minister’s portfolio responsibilities for Solar Homes.
From 1 July all solar workers involved in installations as part of the Solar Homes program must have completed or be enrolled in the Working Safely in the Solar Industry training unit.
Last year we passed the Victorian renewable energy target legislation, creating thousands of jobs, putting more energy into the grid and driving down energy prices. These efforts by the Andrews Labor government encourage investment in the local economy and boost employment.
Western Metropolitan Region has embraced solar energy with open arms. Five suburbs—Tarneit, Point Cook, Truganina, Wyndham Vale and Werribee—have made it to Melbourne’s 10 most popular Solar Homes suburbs.
Can the Minister provide an update on how this training program will prepare the Solar Homes installers in Western Metropolitan Region for the jobs boom in the solar industry?
Ms D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park—Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes) (23 April 2020):
The Victorian Government established the $1.3 billion, 10-year Solar Homes program to help 770,000 Victorians take control of their energy bills by installing solar panels, batteries and solar hot water on their homes. Since August 2018 over 66,000 Victorians have installed a solar system through the Solar Homes Program.
Safety is a top priority of the Solar Homes program. Through our program, we’re improving training, increasing standards and auditing system to make sure that every solar installation is safe.
In February, we announced a $9 million Training and Workforce Development Program that will reinforce safety under the Solar Homes Program and the solar industry more broadly.
We have worked with TAFEs to develop a specialised “Work Safely in the Solar Industry” course. The training covers common safety hazards that can occur while working on roofs, including ways to protect against falls, and identifying and reporting asbestos. From 1 July 2020, all solar workers involved in installations as part of the Solar Homes program must have completed or be enrolled in the course.
In the first phase of the training program, Solar Homes will provide access to the course to 3000 students at no cost, along with free training in first aid and white card certification. This will ensure that every single worker in the solar sector can get access to the training they need.
This will be a refresher for some but for other solar workers, like trade assistants, it may be the first time they have received formal training in safety requirements.
Providing these specialised courses will raise the standard across the industry and will ensure that Victorians have access to the best trained solar sector in the country.