Are we thinking about ‘Essential Service Determination’ all wrong?

In the week that is nearing an end I’ve made tremendous progress on a number of fronts. I’ve had meetings with State Government, lawyers, and a variety of other industry participants to help gauge where this could lead for us all.

We are all as uncertain as ever and while I know many have slowed down, I’ve spoken to a few fellow Pesties, especially in competitive markets like Sydney who are genuinely on the brink… the sitution is clearly affecting us all differently but I’m yet to find a Pestie who hasn’t been impacted in some way. With announcements this could go on for 6 months+ in terms of lock down limitations one must wonder when consumers will run out of money and we are a ‘want’ more than a ‘need’ – don’t mistake the fact that much of our revenues as an industry are derived from consumer wants over consumer needs.

So for me, I’ve pursued a greater depth using and exploiting all my connections to get some solid answers. I’ve made progress and I’ve certainly achieved enough for me to carry on with our disaster planning (I don’t know what else to call it!), a continuity and adaptation plan of sorts!

This week I’ve had written advice outlining the fact that it’s up to each state to implement orders restricting what we can an cannot do – I’ve been given the run down. It’s all held up under state of emergency laws and in Victoria the Chief Health Officer exercises powers under such a declaration to make ‘directions’ which then become enforceable at law! Even if #ScottyFromMarketing makes an announcement, if it’s not a piece of federal legislation he can’t actually do it without the support of the states and territories.

Anyhow….. beyond a bit of an education around how it’s all being strung together I’ve has a teleconference with two Members of State Parliament and a friend who managed to arrange the hookup for me.

What was promised to me by the Minister who oversees changes to businesses is that we will at the very least have some capacity to conduct services especially where they are public health facing. Although he did specifically state they’re not looking to make any further changes at this point and that we’re all getting it wrong.

What we are getting wrong!

We’re looking at this and seeking to have us determined as an essential service… we shouldn’t be! They all explained to me that this is NOT how the government is determining these things. They’re specially looking at different trades and industries as a could this be determined ‘non-essential’ and then defining it as such in the directions document produced by the Chief Health Officer.

I was told, don’t ask us to determine you as essential, detail why you are essential, the importance you play and why there should be no closure of your industry. In essence we’ve all been misfiring our argument / points.

This isn’t about determining Pest Management as an Essential Service it’s about ensuring that we present enough substance to ensure we aren’t blanket banned as non essential.

Go read the very document that gives effect to the current shut down – see how it reads? They’re not making a list saying hey these industries are ‘Essential’ they’re simply defining what is non-essential.

We have been asking the wrong question all along!

A lot more was discussed but given almost every person I speak to across Australia asks me about this I thought I’d highlight how our thinking is a little incorrect and how we can manage this better.

I note that recently the AEPMA published a letter that was scoped towards ‘Why we are essential’ sort of argument – this is important! It’s about framing this in an entirely different way. Mind you they cite some unhelpful examples and inferences about how rodents cannot be excluded as a host for Covid19.

Please don’t go rabbiting on about that! It’s so misguided that it will more than likely diminish your professional reputation. Instead you should focus on some considerably important aspects to our work, and here are a few examples:

  • Bio-security – Quarantine – Preventing invasive pests at the border.
  • Public Health – we are an essential part of Food Safety programs. Pest Control is legally required under food safety legislation.
  • Medical – We often received referrals from doctors and specialists with regards to treating infestations of medically significant pests such as Bed Bugs, Mites, Ticks and Cockroaches but also controlling vectors for disease such as Mosquitoes, flies and other biting insects.

I’d recommend that you promote these facts across all platforms but a good way to engage with people to change perception is Social Media – consider doing some research and running with “Did you know?” type posts on the specific pests along with “This is why Pest Management is Essential” phrases!

Let’s think positively about all this because while they aren’t putting it in writing (thing can change) some of the decisions makers in this (at least for Victoria) have told me we will not be classed as non-essential!