NATA Technical Assessors News - November 2018

30 November 2018

In this issue:


Annual General Meeting

NATA’s 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held in our Sydney office on Wednesday 17 October.

As well as attending in person, a number of Members took advantage of the webinar option to take part.

The AGM considered reports from the Directors and Auditor including the Financial Statements all of which were contained in the Annual Report.

NATA Chair, Dr Geoff Hogg highlighted the following:

i) As a membership based organisation, NATA relies on members to act as volunteers in the capacity as Technical Assessors, committee members, and Board members. For members who elect to take up one or more of these volunteer positions, there are effective governance structures in place to ensure that they do not lose their normal member access to NATA staff and maintaining their impartiality while undertaking their roles as Technical Assessors, or committee or Board members;

ii) The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) Report ‘Economic Value of NATA Accreditation in Australia’ was commissioned by the Board in 2017 and published in July this year. The estimated economic benefit to the Australian economy is between $315M and $420M which on average is approximately $1M a day; and

iii) Sustainable growth is a challenge in the low growth economic environment but is essential for the future of NATA. It is one of the management goals under the 2019-2021 Strategic Plan.

The Board thanked retiring Board members, Dr Tony Landgren and Inspector David Neville for their contributions and welcomed two new Board members, Dr Sanmarié Schlebusch who was nominated and elected by members, and Ms Agnes Tan who was nominated by the Board and endorsed by members.

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Economic value of NATA Accreditation in Australia

After almost twelve months of research involving surveys and interviews, the Report on Economic Value of NATA Accreditation in Australia was launched in July.

The Report concluded that the direct value of NATA accreditation to the Australian economy is between $315M and $421M per annum. The mid-point value of these estimates is $368M, approximately $1M per day.

While we all know that the work of accreditation has considerable economic value for our Members, stakeholders and the Australian community, this is the first time we have come close to providing a dollar value.

Although the Report concludes that there is a direct and quantitative contribution to the economy by NATA’s accreditation activities, it acknowledges that it is impossible to place a value on the intangible attributes of accreditation.

We are grateful for the valuable contribution of the UTS Research Team# and Mr Eric Lo from NATA as well as the Members and Technical Assessors who contributed their insights and stories.

The Report is available for download from the NATA website and the UTS website.

#Associate Professor Renu Agarwal, Associate Professor Chris Bajada, Professor Roy Green, Ms Katrina Skellern, Ms Samantha Luff.

NATA CEO Jennifer Evans was joined by Associate Professor Renu Agarwal from UTS at the NATA Head Office launch of the Report. They are pictured with NATA staff (from left) Katina Kalergis (Manager, Communications and Training Services Group); Susan Jones (State Manager NSW & ACT) and Mr Eric Lo, General Manager, Business Services).

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NATA’s recognition by the Commonwealth reaffirmed

The Commonwealth and NATA have renewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that recognises NATA as:

  • the national authority for laboratory accreditation and for the accreditation of producers of reference materials;
  • a peak authority for the accreditation of inspection bodies and proficiency testing scheme providers.
  • Australia’s compliance monitoring authority for facilities undertaking non-clinical health and environmental safety studies in accordance with the OECD Principles of Good Laboratory Practice.

Under the MoU, NATA acknowledges a broad range of undertakings with regard to fulfilling its national interest and community benefit role. This includes a commitment to delivering balanced accreditation services that meet the needs of accredited facilities, their customers and the downstream beneficiaries of reliable test, measurement and inspection results within the wider context of public policy and community expectations.

The Commonwealth’s undertakings include promoting the use of accreditation and accredited services and practical support to the accreditation system through the participation of Commonwealth officers as technical assessors and in NATA’s technical committees.

Historically there have been occasions when government agencies dealing with a policy or regulatory issue have either mandated conformity assessment requirements that had unexpected outcomes or failed to make use of NATA accreditation when it may have been useful in achieving the desired objective. As such, a new addition to the Commonwealth’s undertakings is one that promotes consultation with NATA when developing “policy or regulation for which conformity assessment activities within NATA’s scope of operations are relevant”.

Signed in August, the MoU has a validity of five years and is available in full on the NATA website.

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Proficiency Testing Announcement

NATA has removed its Proficiency Testing (PT) Directory from its website as the listing was limited and often dated.  The PT Directory provided information about various PT schemes and providers available in Australia and internationally.

The link to the EPTIS Database will remain on the NATA website.  This database provides a comprehensive listing of PT providers, their accreditation status and the PT schemes they offer.  The link to the EPTIS Database can be found on the NATA website under Accreditation Information > PT and CRM databases.

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Technical Assessors Honoured

In order to provide our services to Members and the community, NATA relies on the knowledge and experience of our 3,000 volunteer Technical Assessors.

Each year, we ask staff to nominate Technical Assessors to be profiled in our Annual Report - someone who has made a significant contribution to NATA and whose activities and input deserve to be honoured.

A hallmark of these nominees is their humility and surprise at their nominations but all three were pleased to share their backgrounds with us.

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MS CLAIRE MORITZ

From her first vacation placement at the Adelaide Red Cross blood bank in 1975, Claire Moritz knew she'd chosen the right undergraduate course.

In the 40 years since, Claire has worked mainly in haematology and immunohaematology laboratories in South Australia, including over two decades as a laboratory manager. During this period, she was actively involved in a number of amalgamations and significant reorganisation of pathology services.

Claire’s roles have included close collaboration with staff whose combination of clinical and laboratory expertise gave her a better understanding both of how laboratory services affect patient wellbeing and the processes involved in progressing from research into diagnostic protocols.

From these insights, Claire became a passionate advocate of training her staff to emphasise the importance of protocols and being alert for unusual results and their potential significance for patients.

In her 20 years of NATA assessments, a real highlight for Claire has been to witness, at close hand, the dedication of pathology laboratory staff in small Australian regional centres, where patient safety is clearly held paramount in spite of service changes and employment uncertainty.

Nominees particularly highlighted Claire’s ability to quickly form an excellent rapport with laboratory staff and her extremely professional approach. Facilities have also mentioned how pleasant she is to deal with and how much they appreciate her feedback.

Since ceasing full time employment in 2015, Claire regards her involvement as a NATA Technical Assessor as an opportunity to continue contributing to quality improvements in medical testing.

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MR NOEL (MICK) PLATTS

Mr Noel Platts (or Mick as he prefers to be called) is a long serving and active Technical Assessor in Mechanical Testing, Non-destructive Testing (NDT) and Inspection.

Mick began as a Technical Assessor in 1977 and records show that he has participated in almost 200 assessment activities.

His career began at BHP (Newcastle) where he was involved in materials failure investigations and in-service inspections from 1957 to 1970. He was subsequently involved in boiler construction at ICAL where his welding and NDT experience was called upon.

In 1982, Mick established his own NDT Engineering inspection company (Platts Engineering) in Perth, conducting the inspection of the power station boilers during shutdown periods. Platts Engineering was the first inspection body to be accredited for in-service inspection of pressure equipment.

Mick has a very good sense of humour and puts the facility’s staff at ease. He is very focused on safety issues and often warns that he may not continue with an assessment if the safety aspects have been neglected. His attention to detail, enthusiasm and constant desire to share knowledge with the new generation is evident when he pulls out copies of technical articles and photos to illustrate his points.

It can be particularly difficult to find locally based Assessors in the West and Mick has been extremely generous in undertaking work on NATA’s behalf, even when called upon at short notice.

Now aged 80 but showing no signs of slowing down, Mick maintains an active interest in technical matters as well as enjoying fishing, cooking and spending time with his grandchildren.

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ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR STUART ANDREWS

Associate Professor Stuart Andrews began as a Technical Assessor in November 1981.

This experience was invaluable in allowing him to link the challenges laboratories faced in implementing good microbiological practice in ISO/IEC17025 with the challenges undergraduate students faced in the final years of their practical studies in microbiology. 

Being a Technical Assessor in Biological testing was a great resource for developing competence and problem- solving skills in the training of microbiology graduates over the 36 years of his involvement in tertiary teaching at UniSA.

Stuart was also a member and Chair of the Biological Testing Accreditation Advisory Board where he contributed to the development of technical guidance for labs interpreting the standard to their specific applications. This role lead to Technical Assessors being trained to be most effective as external auditors when participating in NATA assessments and evolved into a training course (Quality Control in the Microbiological Laboratory) which Stuart developed and has presented since 1997.

In more recent years, Stuart has been teaching how to implement good microbiological practices in food, water and pharmaceutical testing within ISO/IEC17025 in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea. This has involved hands on training in microbiological methods and establishing and monitoring quality control performance criteria. As a result, most of these laboratories have acquired accreditation to ISO/IEC17025 either by an international accreditation organisation or their own national accreditation body.

Although he has retired from teaching and training, he will continue to take part in assessments for NATA.

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Australian Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (AINDT) Awards

On Friday 16 November at the Australian Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (AINDT) annual dinner former Materials, Assets and Products (MAP) Sector Manager Brett Hyland received their highest award - the Cole Award. The Cole Award is a prestigious recognition of an individual’s contribution to the field of NDT and to the Institute, and is not awarded every year; he was also granted Life Membership of the Institute.  Brett recently left NATA after 27 years of service in Mechanical Testing and NDT, with his last 7 years as the Sector Manager, MAP, after the technical restructure. We offer sincere congratulations to Brett on his well-deserved award, and wish him well in his new career path.

It was a big night for NATA connections with two Accreditation Advisory Committee (AAC) members also receiving awards. Pranay Wadyalkar received a Meritorious Service award, and  AAC Chair Robert Kimmins, himself a previous recipient of the Cole Award, granted Life Membership.

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New Sector Manager, Materials, Assets and Products

With the recent departure of Brett Hyland, the new Sector Manager, Materials, Assets and Products is Diane Hobday. 

Diane joined NATA in June 2008 as a Lead Assessor in Medical Testing.  In July 2010 she moved to the Diagnostic Imaging Accreditation Scheme (DIAS), and was DIAS Accreditation Manager from August 2011.  Most recently, Diane was Deputy Sector Manager, Life Sciences for the past three years, and was appointed Acting Sector Manager, MAP in October to permit handover; her appointment was confirmed in November.
Prior to NATA, Diane has experience in pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practice, pre-clinical testing under OECD Good Laboratory Practice, veterinary research, medical testing, pharmaceutical post-marketing surveillance and in document automation.

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Call for Expression of Interest for Microbiology Trainer

As mentioned in the last issue of NATA News, this year sees the departure of our long-serving and well respected colleague, Associate Professor Stuart Andrews.

Professor Andrews developed the ‘Aspects of Quality Control in the Microbiological Laboratory’ training course in 1997 and has been presenting it ever since.

Since Training Services would like to continue offering this course, NATA is seeking Expressions of Interest from experienced trainers with a background in microbiology.

If you would like to find out more about this opportunity, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Manager, Communications and Training Services Group or phone her on 1800 621 666 for a confidential discussion.

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Training Calendar for 2019

NATA’s Training Services Group (TSG) has just released the calendar dates for 2019.

The calendars can be downloaded from our website as a National calendar across all States and Territories or for individual areas.

TSG has also expanded its course portfolio to offer more training choices to our Members and Stakeholders.

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