Workplace relations

Budget Review 2011-12 Index

Budget 2011–12: Workplace relations

Steve O’Neill

The following table compares workplace relations departmental expenses of agencies falling within the portfolio of the Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) along with average staffing levels (ASL) in 2011–12 compared with those in 2010–11.

Workplace Relations agencies





Fair Work Australia

74 872

73 715



Fair Work Ombudsman

143 475

150 291



Australian Building and Construction Commission

35 381

34 888



Safe Work Australia (jointly funded with the Commonwealth by the States and Territories)

18 737

19 315




401 338

545 016



Source: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, ‘Portfolio budget statements’, 2011–12 and 2010–11, DEEWR website, viewed 12 May 2011,

Comcare, which operates the Commonwealth’s workers’ compensation fund, expects a significant reduction in expenses through its recently introduced ‘service delivery model’. Compensation claims expenses are expected to reduce by over $150 million, compared to 2010-2011.[1] 

2011-12 Budget items relating to workplace relations programs include:

  • $14.7 million over two years (including $7.1 million in capital funding) to Comcare to implement nationally harmonised model work health and safety laws within the Commonwealth's jurisdiction
  • $4.0 million over four years to continue to support Ethical Clothing Australia (administered by DEEWR) to promote its accreditation and labelling system and encourage participation in the National Retailers Ethical Clothing Code of Practice. Funding for this will be met from existing resources, and
  • $3.6 million over four years for the establishment of a National Workers' Memorial to honour Australian workers who have lost their lives due to work related accidents, and an interactive website. Funding for this will be met from existing resources.[2]  

DEEWR workplace relations programs which are to cease include the Work and Family Support for Small Businesses grants, the Fair Work Education and Information program, and the Home Workers’ Code of Practice program (in 2012–13).

Expenses for the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS) will fall to $102.3 million (from $189 million in 2010–11), returning to its more traditional funding levels of around $100 million in future years. The Fair Work Guarantee legislation to be introduced later in 2011 will formalise administrative arrangements which have underpinned GEERS for ten years. Programs which continue include Protected Action Ballots, Small Business Work and Family grants, and the Home Workers Code of Practice program whose expenses will fall from $1 million in 2010-11 to $250 000 in 2011-2012, before ceasing. Funding is provided for asbestos claims against the Commonwealth, and Australia’s International Labour Organisation subscription.[3]

[1]. Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2011–12: budget related paper no. 1.6: Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2011, p. 259, viewed 12 May 2011,

[2].       Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2011–12, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2011, pp. 162-163, 165 and 167, viewed 12 May 2011,

[3].       Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2, op. cit., pp. 132 and 133.