Ports float online training to meet security mandate

Australia's maritime industry is using innovative technical solutions to deal with a new security mandate to be introduced by January 1, 2007.

By this date all port and maritime workers on docks, cargo ships or gas and oil rigs must display identification cards approved by Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) and Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Called the Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC), it is the security brainchild of the Department of Transport and Regional Services. Nationally, around 130,000 cards will be issued with 10,000 MSIC accreditations planned for Sydney alone.

To meet the new federal government security protocols, the Port of Brisbane has implemented an online training model to replace face-to-face programs.

So far, it is the only maritime port in Australia to have begun work on the project, a task so big the organization had to enlist online training company TodayCorp.

The provider developed an online awareness course which is about 15 pages and includes a card registration form that matches a Web site checklist allowing staff to enter all of their details online.

Garry Hargreaves, TodayCorp client relations manager, said formal online training is the easiest way to ensure all staff comply with the ID mandate. Once the training is complete, Hargreaves said staff arrive at the port, confirm their identity and pick up a new card.

He said the Web site was designed in eight weeks and implemented at the end of February this year.

"It sends all background information and data directly to the Federal Police and ASIO for them to perform criminal history and record checks," Hargreaves said.

"The [Port of Brisbane] already has the necessary information on its database so there is no double handling of data workers have supplied through the online training model."

Once the criminal history checks are completed, he said the data is returned to Port; when staff arrive on site a photograph is taken before the worker receives the MSIC card.

"The online tutorials are a cleverer method than face-to-face interviews," he said adding that the Web site is driven by Flash with XML file changes to customize the application for other ports.

Anthony Meijer, maritime security officer and project manager for the MSIC implementation at Sydney ports, is finalizing an online induction package for workers.

Meijer said the MSIC accreditation process has already begun and "we will do everything in our power" to meet the January 27 deadline.

"Our application forms will be done via a secure online portal with a purpose-built Web address; this will control the way people can apply," he said.

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