With two former federal members of parliament leading the way, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is repositioning itself as the voice of the retail industry.

Late last year, former federal MP Richard Evans was appointed the ARA’s executive director.

“Part of the process of re-building the ARA to its rightful place as the country’s peak retail body is the appointment of a team of people who can share the vision and deliver the services members expect and demand,” said Evans.

The other appointment is Phil Barresi as director Workplace Relations. As the only retail body incorporated under the Workplace Relations Act, it is important to be able to assist members, especially with the changes in industrial relations.

“Barresi will head a team based in Sydney and Melbourne and is focused on providing increased services to the market expanding into OHS and HR and recruitment,” said Evans.

Barresi, who has an extensive background in human resources management and industrial relations prior to serving 12 years as the federal member for Deakin in Victoria, plans to redevelop the Workplace Relations department’s capacity and will work with the Labor Government on reforms to workplace legislation and policy.

Barresi said he plans to expand the scope of the ARA’s Employment Relations division beyond industrial relations advice and lobbying. Under the new structure, the ARA’s Employment Relations department will provide advice on a wide range of issues related to workplace relations such as performance management, human resources, recruitment strategies and occupational health and safety.

“Retail businesses don’t always have the resources to employ human resources experts who are across the latest developments in all aspects related to employing staff,” said Barresi.

“We will be bringing in experts to provide retailers with resources pertaining to all workplace relations issues so that the ARA becomes the premier workplace relations advisory service in the retail sector. We also plan to introduce training programs for various HR practices such as mediation, counselling, negotiating salary and conditions with employees and creating a safe work environment.”