The Foundation Licence and WIA assessors
The 10th anniversary of the new entry level licence in Australia has seen a great turnaround with Amateur Radio being made more accessible to a greater number of people. When it was proposed as part of the Australian Communications Authority “Big Review”, the Foundation Licence was embraced by radio amateurs as the way forward for Amateur Radio. The Foundation Licence has transformed us from a worrying declining interest in Amateur Radio, to one of growth with new people entering the hobby and most upgrading to the Standard or Advance levels.
Jim Linton - VK3PC
Designed more than a decade ago, it gave entrants a taste of Amateur Radio, inspiring many to explore the multi-faceted hobby, and encouraged some to go further and upgrade their qualification. Since 2005 over 5,000 Foundation Licence assessments have held, but with a decline in the number of candidates, more needs to be done to promote the hobby and review the attractiveness of it as the entry point.
The WIA annual general meeting in Canberra saw the 10th anniversary of the Foundation Licence as an opportunity to award a special certificate recognising the first batch of assessors, who have consistently provided licence assessments. Such recognition is planned to be given by the WIA annually as assessors reach their 10th year of voluntary service. Currently there are 200 assessors. The WIA thanks all involved education and training for their cooperation and assistance in encouraging new entrants into Amateur Radio.
The WIA AGM heard that in the 2014 calendar year 75 Foundation Licensees became Standard Licence holders, while 32 qualified directly to the Advanced Licence. A continued general upward trend in licence level upgrades is occurring, but the number of Foundation Licences issued has somewhat stalled. While the Foundation Licence is now 10 years old and due for a review to better reflect new technology of the last decade, and provide a better taste of a modern Amateur Radio, it remains a popular entry point into the hobby.
We have entered the digital age, and the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) is about to digitise its processes, including the way it administers all radio licences. The ACMA has told the WIA that it will suspend for two weeks the issuing of licences, including payments for renewals, while it makes the conversion and switch-over to a new digital system. For example, the ACMA plans to email licences and make greater use of online registration in future.
Later this year, licence applications will be a simplified and completed online or digitally. All WIA assessors are to be trained in the new way of doing things.
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