The safety net for the building and construction industry.

Annual Report 2021


CEO Foreword

A video message from our CEO, Erik Locke.

Chair Report

A message from our chairman, Brian Boyd.

Snapshot FY21



Worker and employer members



Over 23,000 COVID tests on more than 230 building and construction sites



$2,000 COVID payment


New Campaign

Get on with the jab to keep the industry working


Counselling sessions and brief interventions



Calls to 24/7 Counselling Services


Critical incident responses

Incolink Assist

Employee Assistance Program


New Gambling Awareness Campaign

Don’t be a mug like Doug


Training sessions supported by Incolink Training Grants


Net profit after income tax


Funds under management


Redundancy contributions


Redundancy claim payments

COVID: Get on with the  jab

When the industry was at risk of shut-down, we pulled out all stops the set-up a COVID-19 onsite testing program from a standing start. As the delta strain hit Victoria, we adapted and expanded this health service to provide onsite vaccinations to accelerate the vaccine rollout on construction sites so that we could stay open and productive, providing a genuine safety net for our members – keeping them and their industry working.

Better member experience

It is now much easier for members to make genuine redundancy claims without tax taken out via our streamlined Incolink Redundancy Account and the Incolink App.

18,014 total redundancy claims

5,773 covid-19 payments

13,828 claims made through improved app

384 online counselling appts were booked in FY21

WorkerLink claims linking members with their entitlements quickly and easily

Protecting workers’ mental wellbeing

Despite the challenges presented by Covid restrictions our education sessions managed to reach 850 workers across 14 work sites. Bluehats has continued to drive growth in our counselling services with 78 new clients presenting with suicidal ideation. We have had 89 workers volunteering to be trained as Bluehats in FY21.

We also adapted the program during the pandemic to make training and the whole program adaptable to online, so that workers have the tools to talk to others on their worksite, even during lockdowns.

View Herald Sun article here
Keeping a cap on stress

A NEW campaign to head off a mental health crisis in construction will include doubling onsite support workers in distinctive blue hard hats.

The Bluehats suicide prevention program is being ramped up due to the impact of the pandemic, which saw people lose work and put under extra financial stress.

Workers are being encouraged to seek out a bluehat if they’re doing it tough, with the trained staff able to triage cases and refer on to counsellors or other specialists if required.

Mental health services report a 270 per cent increase in presentations of suicidal thoughts in the past year, and that men in the construction industry are 53 per cent more likely to take their own life than other workers.

Incolink, which represents workers and industry, has been running the initiative with support from WorkSafe and CBUS.

Incolink chief executive Erik Locke said the pandemic had “played havoc with mental health in the construction industry” due to lockdowns and ongoing uncertainty about work.

He said construction workers were six times more likely to die by suicide than other workplace accidents, and that the ultimate objective was to “save lives”.

“When the industry shut down last year, it presented an enormous challenge for our program because it is built on peer-to-peer contact on site,” Mr Locke said.

“The flip side is that we can reach more people now because people are much more engaged online than pre-pandemic.

“Getting to people at risk means being very good at talking to people online.”


Getting the message out there about Bluehats

Hear from the Bluehats themselves and see our new campaign to talk about suicide.

Check out the launch of our expanded Bluehats program.

Protecting workers’ financial health

Building on last year’s work to develop an apprenticeship Digital Engagement Project, we worked on a new campaign targeted at young workers in the construction industry at risk of problem gambling.

We know that excessive gambling can lead to debt, social isolation, and unemployment and even alcohol or drug addiction. And we know that to break through with men in this age group, you need to relate. We used Claymation in the campaign which focuses on the life of Doug, who’s increasingly ridiculous betting choices cause his head to turn into a giant ceramic construction mug and put him in awkward situations with his mates and even a tinder date.

You can find out more about the campaign here and view the first video in the series below.

A new service to support families of loved ones with addiction

This year, we introduced a new service – Incolink’s Family Support Service – support for loved ones impacted by ice and addiction. We’re working with the Salvos and other service providers to help deliver this much needed service.

In addition to our Victorian service, we were proud to launch this service for Tasmanian families with Senator Jacqui Lambie in Devonport in May 2021.

Supporting workers’ professional development

Our training programs are a critical part of the work we do with members and have adapted to circumstances during the pandemic. Through sound financial management we are able fund these initiatives through returns on investment as part of our commitment to tackle industry challenges together.



Courses Funded


Workers Trained


Building & Construction Workers Trained



Plumbing Workers Trained

Protecting workers’ physical health

It has never been more important for Incolink to have a say on critical policy matters and government decisions than in 2020-21. While lockdowns did occur, we took action to keep the industry open and operating.

  • Commissioned a cost benefit analysis of on-site vaccinations undertaken by The Insight Centre to underpin support for Incolink vaccination rollout
  • Strongly advocated with all levels of Government to secure vaccination supply and support our onsite vaccination program
  • Future proofed the industry for pandemics with COVID-19 Gold Standard Site program to exceed health department requirements
  • Commissioned a McKell Institute report on Insecure work & portable entitlements, raising awareness of the problematic impact of casual work in spreading COVID-19
  • Successfully advocated for major investment in social housing and construction industry economic stimulus
  • Produced a submission to Federal Government on Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill
  • Continued to advocate in Canberra for members interests on proposed regulatory reforms including Proper Use of Worker Benefits Bill

Women in construction

Attracting and retaining women to the construction industry is good for national productivity, good for the industry and good for workers. Everyone wants a diverse workplace where people are recognized or their capacity and contribution.

Incolink is working with the Victorian Government and Business Industry Consultative Committee to:

  • Establish a central contact point for women seeking information about opportunities to enter the construction industry, including how to apply for work in the industry, an overview of pathways for career progression and job-matching opportunities;
  • Establish, maintain and expand (over time) a central point for recruitment matters specific to the needs of women seeking employment within trade and semi-skilled roles within the industry.

We are also playing a role in industry training including doubling the participation of women in our crane training program.

We also spoke at key industry events throughout the year, promoting the important role that women can play in our industry.

Investments and finance

We invest in a broad range of diversified asset classes with the required blended risk and return characteristics. The composition of our portfolio is set out in the chart and table below, totalling $1.01B at 30 June 2021.

Read the full FY21 Financial Performance Summary

Incolink’s financial performance is largely dependent on the returns from our investment portfolio. As such a core business function is to prudently invest redundancy contributions held in trust to fund a broad range of services provided to members and construction industry stakeholders. These outlays include:

  • the ongoing costs of administering Incolink’s various worker entitlement funds
  • delivering a comprehensive suite of member wellbeing and support services to members
  • subsidising a range of tailored insurance benefits for our members
  • making significant recurrent grant funding available for essential Industry based training for our members and investing in industry OHS initiatives to ensure safer workplaces
  • subsidising a redundancy scheme for Apprentice worker members 

The Operating Profit (before Grants) for the year ended 30 June 2021 (FY21) was $73.8m, a very strong financial result.

Balance Sheet Net Assets coverage ratio for the group was a healthy 122% as at 30 June 2021.

Our investment revenues for FY21 amounted to $109 Million equating to a 11.9% investment return for the year. Despite the uncertainty and disruption caused by COVID-19, economies around the world have staged a remarkable recovery. Governments and central banks responded quickly to the pandemic with significant fiscal and monetary stimulus, including record low interest rates. Whilst this monetary stimulus contributed to negative real interest rates and commensurate low returns for defensive cash and fixed interest investments, risk assets, and listed equities in particular, responded strongly to the economic rebound.

Investment performance was underpinned by returns from most areas of the portfolio including:

  • International Equities: 31.2%
  • Australian Equities: 28.3%
  • Alternatives: 12.7%
  • Unlisted Property: 11.4%
  • Infrastructure: 8.7%

Whilst it is important to appreciate the strong returns of the past year, Incolink targets consistent, long-term performance with a diversified portfolio capable of withstanding the inherent volatility of investment markets and meeting the liquidity needs of the Fund. 

Investment performance (gross) over the rolling 4 years to 30 June 2021 was 7.8%, comfortably ahead of both market benchmarks and our investment return objective.

Incolink maintains a diversified investment portfolio to meet our risk/return objectives and the asset allocation at 30 June 2021 is set out in the chart below. The size of the portfolio at 30 June 2021 was $1.01 Billion, a significant milestone for the fund in reaching $1 Billion in funds under management.

Investments and finance

While the pandemic has had a major impact on investments and operational activities during FY21, we have taken strong action to protect workers funds and strengthen our position despite the headwinds.

We have used the strength of our financial position to protect members with new services across our portfolio, including in mental health, problem gambling awareness and keeping the industry running with COVID-19 testing and vaccination programs.

Our investment revenues for FY21 amounted to $109 Million equating to a 11.9% investment return for the year – the highest returns since FY2014. This means our total investment portfolio was over $1 billion at the end of the financial year for the first time.

Our board and governance

More information about our Committees and Governance structure is available here.

Brian Boyd

Independent Chairman

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Brian was a Director since 1992 through to the end of 2019. He is the immediate past Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council and Convenor of the Building Industry Group of Unions (BIG).

Earl Setches

Non-Executive Director
(since 2002)

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Earl has been actively involved in the plumbing industry for 30 years. In 2001 Earl was elected State and Federal Secretary of the Plumbing Trades Employees Union, and he has held both roles ever since. Earl is also Chair of the Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre and Indigenous Plumbing and Sanitation Foundation, and is a Board Member of the Victorian Building Authority Plumbing Advisory Council, the Building Industry Consultative Committee, Incolink, CBus and the Plumbing Joint Training Fund.

Hedley Davis

Non-Executive Director
(since 2012)

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Hedley has been a Director since 2012. Hedley is an experienced executive with over 25 years of senior management experience in the building, civil infrastructure, and mining services sectors. He is immediate past President of the Master Builders Association of Victoria (MBAV) and also sits on the National Board of the Master Builders Association (MBA).

Michaela Lihou

Non-Executive Director
(since 2021)

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Michaela leads the development of Master Builders Victoria’s corporate strategy and empowers the MBV team to live and inspire MBV’s values, and consistently strengthen their capabilities. Her customer-centric team adds value to MBV members and customers and helps them succeed through the provision of OHS, IR and Legal advisory services and solutions.

Michael O’Neill

Non-Executive Director
(since 2013)

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Michael was appointed Independent non-voting Director in 2013. Michael has senior finance executive experience with NAB and KPMG and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is an experienced non-executive Director and is currently the Chair of Gymnastics Victoria and a Director of Teachers Mutual Bank, The Royal Women’s Hospital and cohealth.

Ralph Edwards

Non-Executive Director
(since 2016)

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Ralph has been a board member since January 2016. He is the President of the Construction and General Division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Victoria/Tasmania branch.

Noel Washington

Non-Executive Director
(since 2017)

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Noel worked in the metal and construction industry for 10 years before he became a Union Official for 25 years with FEDFA and CFMEU where he held the Senior Vice-President position.  He has also served on various CFMEU Boards and Committees as well as the Construction Industry Training Board Tasmania.

Saeed Mirbagher

Non-Executive Director
(since 2021)

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Saeed leads the MBV commercial teams, including the Master Builders Training Institute and Master Builders Building Services teams; he also leads the MBV IT and finance teams. Saeed’s leadership approach means he challenges the status quo and adds value to MBV members by driving innovation and change.

Bill Oliver

Non-Executive Director
(since 2007)

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Bill has been a Director since 2007. He is immediate past State Secretary of the Construction and General Division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Victorian Branch.

Ken Gardner

Non-Executive Director
(since 2017)

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Ken Gardner held the position of CEO at Master Plumbers from 2009-2018 and is a Director of Master Plumbers Australia Ltd, the Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre and the World Plumbing Council.

Previously, Ken was the CEO of independent statutory authorities in Victoria, including the Office of Gas Safety, the Office of the Chief Electrical Inspector and also the combined body – Energy Safe Victoria.

Incolink would like to thank our outgoing board members for their contribution to the organisation and its members.

Radley de Silva

Non-Executive Director
(since 2016)

Louise Hansen

Non-Executive Director
(since 2018)

Executive team

Erik Locke
Erik Locke


Erik has been in leadership positions in the private sector, unions and politics for more than twenty years.  Prior to joining Incolink in 2019, he worked as a Chief of Staff in three jurisdictions, held senior management positions in public relations, professional associations, political parties and the union movement.

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He has worked in the investment banking sector in London, and while managing public relations firms counted some of Australia’s largest corporates, unions and NGOs amongst his clients. Erik sat on the Board of Andrew Denton’s charity, Go Gentle Australia and played a senior role in the marriage equality postal survey.  He studied at UWA, Murdoch and Griffith Universities, collecting Bachelor of Arts in Politics, Communications, Australia and the Asia Pacific.  He is a member of and is currently completing his AICD course. 

Niall Keane
Niall Keane

Chief Financial Officer

Niall oversees the end to end investments, accounting, financial reporting, treasury, financial planning & analysis, audit, tax and corporate administration functions at Incolink.

He has worked closely with the CEO and Leadership team since 2014, driving and implementing significant business transformation initiatives.

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Niall has over 25 years of experience building and leading finance teams spanning a number of organisations with significant operating scale and complexity. Prior to joining Incolink, Niall was CFO at multi-boutique fund manager, Perennial and previously at Victorian Funds Management Corporation.


Niall is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in both Australia and Ireland, holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Monash University and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Tri Duc Nguyen
Tri Duc Nguyen

General Counsel & Company Secretary

Tri is a highly experienced corporate lawyer responsible for the critical portfolios of legal, risk, governance & compliance, people & culture, industry grants and members insurance. He brings to Incolink his diverse legal and commercial expertise gained from Executive roles in ASX listed entities and Government.  Tri is a Fellow member of the Chartered Governance Institute.  He is a passionate supporter of world Indigenous cultural preservation through education and empowerment. 

Patricia McCourt
Patricia McCourt

Executive General Manager, Member Services

Patricia leads Incolink’s members services. She has crucial executive and board level expertise in large NGO and NFP organisations with particular skills in business and administration process development, implementation and continuous improvement; member-based organisations and implementing innovative wellbeing initiatives. 

Ashleigh Connolly
Ashleigh Connolly

Executive General Manager, Operations

Ashleigh is an executive manager with vast experience and knowledge in member services organisations and superannuation funds. She is responsible for Incolinks digital development, IT, business development, operations, marketing and communications and member engagement functions.

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Ashleigh, working closely with her colleagues in the executive team and CEO, has led significant change across the organistation, driving a focus on the member. This includes the simplification of communications and processes to help build a stronger connection to our worker and employer members. 

Ashleigh is a mentor to women across a range of industries and an avid reader. Ashleigh holds an Executive MBA from the University of Melbourne.