About the off-campus program
Our off-campus program provides students with a range of practical experiences in farms and businesses across Australia and New Zealand. The aim of the program is to provide practical experience for our students and the opportunity to acquire new skills in a supportive and safe environment.
Students in both Certificate III and Certificate IV undertake work experience through the off-campus program. We hope that the program helps our students to develop the skills and knowledge they need to take up positions on farms across Australia and, particularly for Certificate IV students, to work their way into management roles. We therefore appreciate you discussing the management of your property or business with students though we do not expect you to share information you prefer to keep private.
Some of our co-operators have been taking students for 20 years and gain a great deal of satisfaction from the experience. In some cases they employ suitable Tocal graduates to work on their properties at the completion of their studies.
Here you will find more information about the program and the sorts of things we need to ensure are in place before you host a student. There are three forms that you will need to complete and send to Tocal either by mail or email.
Please contact college staff by phone (1800 025 520) or email (email@example.com) if you have any questions about the program.
About the program
Work experience on commercial farms and rural businesses is a key part of the training program for full-time students at Tocal. Off campus work experience allows students to develop their skills and knowledge and gain experience on a range of enterprises. Cooperating farmers and business managers can assist students to get a feel for the industry and an insight into the workings and management of agricultural businesses.
Selection of Co-operators
Selection is based on the following criteria:
- suitable work experience can be provided for students
- awareness and compliance with occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation
- reasonable accommodation is available for students
- willingness to provide business information to students
- willingness to assist students with transport expenses to and from the college
- awareness of public liability and insurance issues
- compliance with child protection legislation
- willingness to provide timely reports on student performance.
Background checks of prospective co-operators may involve contact via phone, visits to the property or obtaining information from people such as other NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) or Qld DPI staff or rural business operators who deal with the co-operator.
As many of our students are under 18 our work experience program must comply with Child Protection legislation. Co-operators should ensure that employees and others in the farm or business are aware of their responsibilities and that students are not placed in potentially harmful situations. Because of this, students will usually only be placed in family situations and not with single co-operators.
Accommodation for students must be suitable. This can be in a family situation or in living quarters. In the later case, any potential risk to students should be assessed carefully. Where female students are accommodated in quarters, they must be accompanied by another male or female student. If the female is under 18, they should be accommodated with a family or the situation carefully negotiated with the co-operator to ensure the safety of the student.
Length of the Work Experience Period
Certificate IV (second year) students are rostered on work experience for two 4-week periods. These are usually in May and September.
Hours of Work
We expect the student to fit into the normal routine of the property, realising that sometimes this means working long hours.
We would expect Certificate IV students to work weekends if it is a busy time for you and you could use their help. Please negotiate directly with them and give them as much notice as you can if you need them on weekends. We do expect students to be given a few days off during their month with you.
Assessment of Students
You will be asked to complete a simple report on the students performance. This is a vital part of the College assessment. We ask that you complete this form, discuss your assessment with the student and return it promptly to the college either by mail or email.
Certificate IV students must prepare a report on their property or business. They only have to do one and it is usually the done during the May off-campus.
The report will include the following:
- district summary of climate, soils, vegetation, wildlife
- farm map
- main property enterprises
- calendar of operations
- estimated gross margins for main enterprises
- comments on management aspects of the farm/business.
Only college staff who assess these reports will see them. All information will be treated confidentially. You are not expected to provide any detailed financial information about your business. However, it would be appreciated if students were given some information on main costs, number of stock or tonnes of grain sold, average prices etc. students can then use this general information to estimate costs and returns for each enterprise.
The collection and analysis of information is an important part of the off-campus program. Please answer questions freely but don't provide detailed financial information to students. We want them to gain experience at seeking information for themselves.
Occupational Health and Safety
Agriculture is an occupation with a high risk of workplace injury. Because of this, cooperating farmers are expected to make their property, machinery and systems of work as safe as possible. Students should be protected from unusual dangers and properly instructed and supervised in the safe use of machinery and other safe work practices. Personal protective equipment must be provided including hearing protection (when operating machinery), helmets for riding motor bikes, quads and horses and appropriate protective clothing and respirators when dealing with chemicals.
Students should not be left alone on the property while on work experience. There should always be someone else on the property who can respond in the event of an accident or emergency.
This is explained in some detail in the insurance cover document. In summary co-operators are indemnified against claims up to $10 million subject to conditions outlined in this document including:
- any claim by a student is immediately notified to the college
- all safety, health and welfare legislation shall apply to any work site and to any student engaged in a work experience program
- the student is adequately supervised.
Co-operators may also be covered for damage or injury to property or persons caused by work experience students. You should read the insurance cover document thoroughly before agreeing to take a student.
Payment of Students
NSW Department of Primary Industries' insurance will only cover students on voluntary (unpaid) work experience. Students can be paid providing the employer has appropriate workers compensation insurance cover. The college does not require students to be paid. However, we ask that co-operators meet the cost of the students return travel to the property and provide full board and lodging during the period.
Student Medical Costs
Co-operators are not liable for any medical or other costs arising from sickness or injury. If a student becomes ill or is injured, the college should be contacted as soon as possible.
Co-operators should note that it is illegal to supply alcohol to minors without parental approval. Family members and others who live or work with students should be reminded of this. Legal issues in relation to the use of firearms, driving of vehicles and other matters should also be considered.
The off-campus work experience program is a very important part of Tocal's courses and the assistance of cooperating farmers and rural businesses is much appreciated by staff. Thank you for playing a part in the preparation of our young people for their careers in agriculture.
If you would like further information on any aspect of the program or have suggestions to improve it, please contact the college by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone on 1800 025 520.
How to register for the programIn the first instance phone us on 1822 025520. You will also need to complete the following forms (the forms are in Microsoft Word format, if you do not have Word we can mail you hard copies).
- Off-campus co-operators expression of interest- Information about you and your farm or business
- Checklist for co-operators - A list of what needs to be in place for you to host a student
- Off-campus co-operators safety audit confirmation - Declaration that you have undertaken a safety audit
Student work experience insurance cover
This sets out the nature and extent of insurance cover provided for students undertaking work experience.
1 INSURANCE COVER
1.1 NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) is covered through the NSW Treasury Managed Fund. The Fund Manager is GIO (Aust.).
1.2 Cover is provided for students injured while participating in work experience.
1.2.1 Cover is provided for:
- work experience practicum
- simulated industrial experience, which may be conducted on campus.
1.2.2 Examples where cover is not provided include:
- Student employment of a paid nature eg. apprenticeships and traineeships.
- Independent arrangements of students where work experience is not part of the syllabus or course outline.
- Where a student has independently arranged for a work placement outside their course. The student can obtain Voluntary Workers' Personal Accident Insurance for Work Experience through insurance companies.
Students who undertake 'work experience as part of their paid employment (with employer consent). These students would be covered by their employers' Workers' Compensation Policy.
1.3 Detailed below are benefits available to all Tocal students while participating in Work Experience.
1.3.1 Cover is provided Australia wide.
1.3.2 Cover for Public Liability is provided under Fund No. MF100029.
1.3.3 Cover for Students undertaking Work Experience is provided under Fund No. MF100031
1.3.4 NSW DPI provides work experience students with similar benefits to those employees may receive under the NSW Workers' Compensation Act 1987, except that there is no provision for loss of earnings. The Workers' Compensation Act provides information and benefits in relation to illness, injury or death in the workplace.
1.3.5 The policy covers work experience students for medical and hospital expenses not recoverable from Medicare and/or other health insurance funds ie. out of pocket expenses. Damage to clothing is also covered if the student is injured at the same time.
1.3.6 In the event of serious injury, similar benefits to the Table for Compensation of Permanent Injury, under the Workers' Compensation Act would be provided.
The Insurance cover shall not apply to any event which is directly or indirectly attributable to or as a consequence of:
- intentional self injury or suicide (whether felonious or not) or any attempt thereat,
- sexually transmitted diseases,
- engaging in professional sport(s).
2 INFORMATION FOR HOST EMPLOYERS
2.1 Insurance and Indemnity Information
NSW DPI is concerned to protect the interests of employers participating in the work experience program.
Set out below are details of the indemnity applicable to host employers and the benefits available to students injured while participating in Work Experience.
Students engaged in Work Experience are volunteers and have no claim on the employer's Workers' Compensation Insurance. NSW DPI therefore provides work experience students with similar benefits to those received by employees under Workers' Compensation.
The following provisions apply to work experience placements approved by the college. Host employers participating in work experience will receive documentation from the college stating that the placement is approved and organised by the college.
2.1.1 Each host employer has the benefit of a Crown indemnity in the following terms:
NSW DPI indemnifies host employers who participate in work experience programs to the full extent of any amount which they may be legally liable to pay for injury to students arising out of Work Experience, up to $10,000,000 provided that:
- any claim against the host employer in respect of a work experience student is immediately notified to the college;
- NSW DPI has full control and conduct of the claim against the host employer;
- the host employer cooperates fully with NSW DPI and the State Crown Solicitor's Office in the conduct of any such action.
As students are volunteer workers they have no rights under the Workers' Compensation Act and the host employer has no liability under the Workers' Compensation Act.
All safety, health and welfare legislation shall apply to any work site and to any student engaged in a work experience program.
This indemnity excludes claims where:
- The WorkCover Authority charges a host employer with a breach under the Occupational Health & Safety Act where a work experience student is injured.
- The Anti Discrimination Board requires a host employer to make settlement with a work experience student.A breach of law by the host employer is proved.
2.1.2 Public Liability Indemnity
NSW DPI provides a Public Liability Indemnity to host employers participating in the work experience program. This indemnity covers an employer's legal liability for damage to property or injury to persons caused by work experience students. There is an upper limit on this indemnity of $10,000,000.
This indemnity excludes claims for:
- damage to the employer's property in the employer's physical or legal control (reference should be made to Section 2.1.3 for cover available);
- damage to an employee's property;
- personal injury in respect of injury to employees (this should be covered by the employer's Workers' Compensation Insurance).
This indemnity covers claims by third parties.
2.1.3 Compensation for Damage to Host Employer's Property
Damage to an employer's property or property in the employer's physical or legal control caused by a work experience student is compensated provided that the damage does not stem from lack of instruction or supervision by the host employer. There is an upper limit on this compensation of $100,000 per incident.
3 ROLE OF HOST EMPLOYER
3.1 It is the responsibility of the supervisor at the host employer to provide occupational health and safety guidelines.
3.2 The supervisor should ensure adequate supervision of the student in the workplace.
4 STUDENT PAYMENT
4.1 Students engaged in work experience are volunteers.
4.2 Students must not receive payment during work experience.
4.3 Any payment made by a host employer to a student will mean that the student is now considered to be a 'worker' and no longer covered by NSW DPI insurance. Responsibility would then rest with the host employer to provide Workers' Compensation cover.
Whilst farm work is considered hard, rewarding work, agriculture has the unenviable reality of having one of the highest rates of workplace accidents and deaths. Tractors and farm bikes, particularly quads, remain the major cause of serious and fatal injuries on farms, with roll-overs and run overs being the most common type of tractor-related fatalities. Other key agents of fatal and non-fatal serious injury include other mobile plant, PTOs, vehicles, horses, grain augers and posthole diggers.
Under Occupational Health and Safety legislation, in all states and territories, employers/ managers are legally required to implement a risk management approach to health and safety hazards in the workplace. The underlying principles of risk management relate to:
- Identifying Hazards (with staff input) - Farm Safety checklist
- Assessing Risks
- Controlling Risks - Risk Management plan
- Evaluation of control measures - Monitoring
- Record information
Duty of care
Duty of care (WorkCover): All employers are required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 to accept a duty of care for the health and safety of all people in the workplace. Implementing duty of care requires everyone in the workplace to be aware of potential hazards and take steps to prevent workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses.
Tocal has a duty of care to provide a safe work place for our students on college farms. We also do our best to ensure farms and businesses provide safe workplaces for students on work experience. We do this by talking to managers about OHS requirements, providing information and using farms and businesses that have Farm Safety Risk Management plans in place. We also seek feedback from students and will not continue to use farms if students feel they have been involved in unsafe work practices.
Farmers also have a duty of care for our students,which involves providing a safe place to work. Therefore, students shouldn't be put into hazardous situations, such as riding bikes, quads and horses without approved helmets; applying chemicals if they don't have the minimum Chemical training (students should have a SMARTtrain card) and aren't provided with protective equipment; operating unguarded and unfamiliar machinery. Because of the training that students receive at Tocal, they will be able to do many tasks on the farm. Part of your duty of care is to make sure the students are capable of doing set work by showing them what you want done and observing them do the task - you need to be confident that they can do the task without fear of an accident occurring.
Risk management plan
There are a number of Farm Safety checklists around (SMARTtrain, FarmSafe and WorkCover) as well as Farm Safety courses (run by TAFE, FarmSafe and private trainers). The current OHS legislation requires that you complete one of these checklists in consultation with your staff and then develop a Risk Management plan. The Risk Management plan will document how you intend to reduce the risks associated with hazards on the farm. For example, if the hopper guard was missing from an auger, then your risk management plan may state that no-one is to use the unguarded auger until a guard is fitted, a new guard will be ordered and fitted within a month. If this is communicated to staff and they follow instructions, there shouldn't be a problem. Risk Management is common sense.
Changes to the NSW OHS legislation in September 2003 now requires all businesses to have a Risk Management Plan in place to reduce workplace injuries and death.
Student accident procedure
- If a student is injured and requires medical attention they should be treated by a GP or taken to the local hospital.
Students should be treated as public patients covered by Medicare.
Unless they are being paid, they are not covered by Workers Compensation.
Please let medical staff know that the student was on unpaid work experience.
Students may be able to claim medical expenses (apart from those covered by Medicare) through the Department of Primary Industrys Treasury Managed Fund.
- If an ambulance is called, the colleges participation in the Ambulance Transport Scheme may mean that free ambulance transport is available.
This should be mentioned to ambulance staff.
- If the student is being paid a wage whilst doing an approved off-campus work experience then costs can be claimed via the appropriate workers compensation policy.
- The off campus co-operator must notify Tocal as soon as possible after the accident.
- The details of the accident must be recorded and sent to the college immediately (use form below).
This should include statements from the student and any observers present.
Practical assessment of students
Tocals off-campus work program provides an opportunity for our students to experience agriculture at a commercial level. Whilst the work experience that students receive on the Tocal farms provides them with relevant training and a taste of rural life, it doesn't provide the real life experience that working on a commercial farm provides.
The benefit of your participation in our work placement program extends well beyond the work experience that you provide. Other benefits include:
- provides an opportunity for students to meet and mix with the rural community
- helps students develop social skills, relevant to country living
- allows students to see how different tasks are done in different ways
- provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their skills and personal attributes to potential employers.
Your assessment of our students, while on work placement, forms an important part of their overall assessment. For practical work assessment, we rate six criteria as either ' Not Yet Satisfactory', 'Satisfactory' or ' Merit Level'. The criteria are:
- Quality of work and practical ability
- Reliability and ability to understand instructions
- Courtesy and Co-operation.
We have tried to describe the assessment criteria as clearly, and unambiguously, as possible. When assessing the student, please indicate the criteria that best describes their general performance for the time that they are working with you. If you think the student is part way between Satisfactory and Merit, please only indicate one category.
Sometimes personality clashes can cloud the practical assessment of the student. We would prefer that the above assessment table reflect only the students performance/attributes on the job. If there are other issues, related to the students behaviour, attitudes or social skills, they should be put under General Comments and discussed with the student.
Your overall assessment of the student, including your comments, are important feedback for the students. Tutors will discuss with students personal attributes and work performance that they may need to improve on in order to become a valuable member of the rural workforce.
Because of the importance of the work placement assessment, it is important that you return the assessment sheets soon after the student has finished their placement. We encourage you to provide feedback to the students and discuss the report with them.
You can download the form in Word format below. The report can be returned by either email or print it out and return by mail.