One passionate committee is once again looking to shake up the hairdressing industry and change the future of hairdressing for good – and they want you to get involved. The Australian Hairdressing Council (AHC) plans to tackle head on the issue of industry qualification credibility by eliminating kitchen operators and maintaining a respected image for all hairdressing professionals, writes Michelle Ruzzene.

To do this, the AHC have launched the Hairdressing Australia Industry Register (HAIR), which was announced at ‘Real Talk: The Future of our Industry’ presentation held at Hair Expo Australia 2017 in June at ICC Sydney.

AHC chief executive officer Sandy Chong said the online initiative “first and foremostly is here to help protect and grow the industry”.

“Fundamentally it’s about an industry code of conduct, ethical practices and consumer protection,” she said, adding that the drive for the new action plan came from industry feedback via Facebook, surveys and conversations with government.

“We surveyed 1800 industry members and 95 percent of them believe the Australian hairdressing industry should be regulated,” she said. “But who is going to regulate it? The government is not going to regulate it. But they do fully support self-regulation from the AHC. This is why we’ve taken the initiative on board.”

Sandy said HAIR would operate independently from the AHC and that it would be a network that would bring professionals together and improve industry standards. Only qualified hairdressers would be accredited when they registered at the online hub and Sandy encouraged all reputable hair professionals to join.

“Hairdressers must get involved and be a part of this change,” she said. “Each person that registers will know that they are helping to make a change to an industry that desperately needs it.”

If a hairdresser does register their details with HAIR, they will receive a certification of registration, acknowledgement of their time in the industry, benefits and discounts from associated partners, listing and promotion on the website as a registered hairdresser and access to events, functions and competitions.

Sandy said she was looking for 750 “trailblazers” to help get the initiative set up and running, at a cost of $69 for a three year registration, which would normally cost $99. This money would be used to market the association to consumers, so consumers would be educated about HAIR and only opt to use a registered member in future, she said.

Aside from the launch of HAIR, Sandy also raised other issues facing the industry during the sold-out seminar, including the stagnation of business. She said that the hairdressing industry was currently growing at around two percent per annum, roughly the same rate as inflation.

“How are we going to increase growth?” she asked.

She said that having in place a body like HAIR, apprentices would be more inclined to finish their apprenticeships as they would be unable to register unless they were fully qualified. Sandy said she hoped it would help deter freelancers or sole traders from double-dipping when it came to government benefits.

“There are 91,000 ABNs registered with Australian Taxation Office (ATO) but only 29,412 of those are salons that operate in commercial premises. Out of the remaining 60,000, there are 54,582 of those not registered for GST, which means they should earn less than $75,000 per year. “

She said this huge number of ABNs not registered for GST had put hairdressers “on the hit list” with the ATO. Sandy said sole traders were an integral part of the hairdressing industry, especially for those who had families or needed flexible working arrangements, however, these sole traders need to be credible.

Other topics Sandy touched on included wage increases vs income rising and affecting profit, the need to increase productivity, investing in more training and development to retain staff and the merging of small salons to be more cost-effective.

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