Uniformity gone bonkers

In the early days of Yass’ history, today’s equivalent of a bureaucrat sat in his office in Sydney and planned the systematic layout of the new town of Yass. Our 19th Century pen pusher was a very orderly chap. He loved the control that a grid provides. He loved its rhythmic symmetry. Every house would fit into his grid of squares and rectangles. Such a tidy application of a common rule: uniformity and conformity! All under control!

Our neat and possibly dapper chap studied the surveyor’s detailed drawings of the existing ragged little hamlet of Yass and its surrounding area.

He recognised that one side of the river was high and the other low, potentially subject to flooding. It would never do to have a flooded town!

So ‘bullocratically’ he sent forth his minions with plan at hand, to create a township on the north side of the Yass River.

Ah! You’ve guessed it in one! Our bureaucrat failed to recognise that settlement had to be on the side that the bullock teams could get to with their heavy load of supplies from Sydney and with the river in flood that side was the south side. Residents on the north side of the river were cut off, a situation not fixed until the building of the current bridge about a hundred and fifty years later.

History repeats

And it is said, that history repeats itself. I vouch this is true, in essence if not in the particulars.

Slip, slop, slap! That’s right! Skin protection in our environment is important. It has meant that employers reduce health risks and liability by insisting that employees follow sun-smart procedures and wear sun-smart protective clothing. Sun-smart clothing usually means long sleeved shirts with collars and long pants as well as a broad brim hat and sunglasses when out of doors.

Council’s sun smart wear

So have you noticed that this summer our local government staff wear sun smart clothing?

No more shorts for summer wear for any staff. Long pants, please! No concessions! Not even heat wave type concessions! Someone in air-conditioned comfort rigidly wielded the rule. Uniformity and conformity!

Yet, to my mind, it’s control gone berserk! How could council’s hot shot apply a clothing rule so uniformly without due regard to wearer comfort in heat wave conditions.

Did any office staff complain? Possibly not, glad of the close and handy cooler!

Did any of the outdoor staff complain? Probably but they were able to start their day in the cool of the early morning and knock off by midday to sit by their own coolers.

Sauna trackies

That left the young and not-so-young pool staff with fixed long day hours. They were made to sweat it out in council issue sauna blue long plastic pants in temperatures over 40 degrees in the shade!

Did council’s senior staff realise the grave risk they took with the lives of all pool users in January? Thankfully there was no incident demanding rapid response from lifesavers liquefying under a uniform conformity policy.

Making policy fit

You have to wonder why Yass Valley Council is the only NSW council insisting that it’s pool staff wear long pants. After all, for most of the day our lifesavers sit in the shade of the awning observing all pool activity.

I recently learnt on the grapevine that council will issue cooler track suit pants for summer wear. Will these be comfortable when the temperature rises above 40 degrees in summer? Can a uniform increase response time, creating unnecessary risk? Thus, are tracksuit pants necessary?

Surely commonsense makes sense of competing risks and potential liability.


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