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Camilla Care

What it’s really like to be a security guard in Australia

Vaseline 4 weeks ago

Following the shocking attack at Bondi Junction, some guards are taking steps to protect themselves by ordering stab-resistant vests and talking about further training.
Attacker Joel Cauchi stabbed six people to death – at Westfield Bondi Junction shopping center last Saturday. Twelve others were also injured.
Cauchi was shot dead by a policewoman.

In the aftermath of the attack, concerns have been raised about the level of security in shopping centers and the role of security guards.

NDIS Minister Bill Shorten has suggested police and military forces should increase security in shopping centres.
“I think we need more soldiers and police officers patrolling Westfield and maybe even the big shopping center companies that make a lot of money can be asked to pitch in so that we have a stronger visible police presence,” Shorten told Channel Nine’s Today. Show on Friday.
Job Moses has been a security guard for 11 years and mainly works at shopping centers and events.

He spoke to SBS News about what it’s like and how people in the industry have responded to the Bondi Junction attack.

Rear view of two men wearing dark vests with security written in capital letters on the back

Security guards at Westfield Bondi Junction wore protective vests on Friday as the complex reopened following last week’s stabbing. Source: MONKEY / Bianca De Marchi

What does an average day look like?

“What you have today is different than what happened yesterday,” Moses said.
“It’s never a boring job because you always meet different characters, some very nice, some not so nice.

“You also sometimes have the opportunity to help many people, for example people who ask questions, or perhaps provide first aid in an emergency, because most of us are trained in first aid.”

Do you work different hours?

“Absolutely. Sometimes I could work from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“The pretty standard time in security is an eight-hour or 12-hour shift.”

Does the sector depend a lot on temporary staff?

“Without immigrants, the security industry would essentially collapse because the security industry is a largely casual workforce.
‘A large part of the workforce consists of immigrants like me.

“In Victoria you have to be in Australia for at least 12 months before you can do the course and apply for a license.

Do shopping centers need more security help from the police and military?

“Some shopping centers already have police patrols, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, which are the busiest times.
‘But I don’t think this is going to solve any problem for a while – what I think will solve the problem is that many of the guards need to get more training from the government, not just internal training.
“And they must be provided with better PPE (personal protective equipment), for example stab-resistant vests.

“They should be given certain powers, perhaps to carry tasers or capsicum spray. But not for every guard, because we already have specialized guards, armed guards who carry weapons.”

How have people in the industry responded to the Bondi Junction attacks?

“Many people have become aware of the risks and have decided that they need the right personal protective equipment, especially stab-resistant vests and cut-resistant gloves.
‘In the past, many guys would wait for the security companies or for the customer to contract a company to supply them. At this point, most guys are going to buy themselves because no one wants to die.

“A lot of guys have woken up and said, look, we have to protect ourselves, not wait for our employer to protect us.”

What support is available for workers in the sector?

‘We don’t have much support.

“When it comes to wage theft issues – sometimes security guards face theft of their money by employers – they can get some support from their union.

“Some larger companies offer internal support for mental health and wellbeing, but only a small percentage of companies do.”

What kind of education do people have?

“Most guards will start with a Certificate II in Security Operations.

And if you work with some of the established companies, they have variable training systems like the learning management systems, online training, just to make sure there’s continuous improvement and so on.”

Is the task misunderstood?

“People underestimate security guards because they accuse you of being a failed police officer.
“Many people misunderstand our work. Sometimes you are invited to attend an incident where it is actually police related and there is nothing we can do about it.

“So some people actually overestimate our powers, while others disrespect our appearance.”

What are the best events to work at?

“Most events are fun to work on, like the Melbourne Marathon, working at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, working at the Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
“Some, just a few, are a little difficult when you’re dealing with clients who are affected by maybe a lot of alcohol or drugs.”

Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.