Safe Work Australia Amendment (Role and Functions) Bill 2017

Bills Digest no. 1, 2017–18

PDF version [628KB]

Paula Pyburne
Law and Bills Digest Section
11 July 2017

Contents

Purpose of the Bill

Structure of the Bill

Background

About Safe Work Australia
Establishment
Functions
Funding
Review of the role and functions of Safe Work Australia
Conclusions of Review

Committee consideration

Selection of Bills Committee
Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills

Policy position of non-government parties/independents

Position of major interest groups

Financial implications

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

Key issues and provisions

New object clause
Stakeholder comment
Key provision
Functions
National policy and strategy
Model WHS legislative framework
Workers’ compensation
Evidence
Education and communication
Collaboration
Advising WHS Ministers
Any other function
Consequential amendments

Concluding comments

Appendix A

Current functions of Safe Work Australia compared with responsibilities in the Inter-Governmental Agreement

Appendix B

Proposed functions of Safe Work Australia compared with responsibilities in the Inter-Governmental Agreement

 

Date introduced: 31 May 2017
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Employment
Commencement: the day after Royal Assent

Links: The links to the Bill, its Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speech can be found on the Bill’s home page, or through the Australian Parliament website.

When Bills have been passed and have received Royal Assent, they become Acts, which can be found at the Federal Register of Legislation website.

All hyperlinks in this Bills Digest are correct as at July 2017.

Purpose of the Bill

The purpose of the Safe Work Australia Amendment (Role and Functions) Bill 2017 (the Bill) is to amend the Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Safe Work Act) to:

  • include an overarching statement that provides a context in which Safe Work Australia is to continue to perform its functions and
  • update, consolidate and simplify those functions.

Structure of the Bill

The Bill comprises two Parts:

  • Part 1 updates the object and functions of Work Safe Australia
  • Part 2 makes consequential amendments including the replacement of current references to the Ministerial Council with references to Work Health and Safety (WHS) Ministers.

Background

The Commonwealth does not have the constitutional authority to enact legislation regarding work health and safety (WHS) (formerly referred to as occupational health and safety).[1] Therefore, attempts at harmonisation of such legislation have required the agreement of all Australian States.

In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) signed the Inter-Governmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in Occupational Health and Safety (Inter-Governmental Agreement). The purpose of the Inter-Governmental Agreement was to formalise cooperation between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments on the harmonisation of WHS legislation and to establish appropriate governance arrangements to support this cooperation.[2] In addition, the parties to the Inter-Governmental Agreement agreed to the following:

  • the development by the Commonwealth of legislation to replace the existing Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC)[3] with a national independent body
  • the development, monitoring and maintenance of model WHS legislation by that replacement body, including compliance and enforcement provisions and
  • the adoption and implementation of model WHS legislation by each jurisdiction, as agreed by the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council (WRMC).[4]

About Safe Work Australia

Establishment

Accordingly, in 2008 Safe Work Australia was established as an independent Commonwealth statutory body to improve occupational health and safety outcomes and workers’ compensation arrangements in Australia by the Safe Work Act. It is the replacement for the Australian Safety and Compensation Council.[5]

Functions

Consistent with the Inter-Governmental Agreement, at the time of its establishment, Safe Work Australia’s functions included:

  • coordinating and developing national policy and strategies
  • assisting with the implementation of model work health and safety (WHS) legislation and reforming the legislative framework
  • carrying out and publishing research and
  • collecting, analysing and reporting data.[6]

The Parties to the Inter-Governmental Agreement also acknowledged that Safe Work Australia (as the ASCC replacement body) would have a workers’ compensation role, the details of which were not fully expressed in the Agreement.[7]

Funding

Safe Work Australia is jointly funded by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments through the Inter-Governmental Agreement. The Commonwealth pays 50 per cent of Safe Work Australia’s budget whilst the States and Territories, together, fund 50 per cent of the budget with the contribution of each state and territory proportional to its population.[8]

Review of the role and functions of Safe Work Australia

When the Safe Work Act was enacted, it required that the Minister ensure that a review of Safe Work Australia’s ongoing role and functions be conducted starting six years after the Act commenced.[9] This was presumably because it was expected that Safe Work Australia would achieve its primary function of developing, and assisting in the implementation of, model WHS legislation in that time. Appendix A to this Bills Digest sets out in table form the current functions of Safe Work Australia compared to the functions set out in the Inter-Governmental Agreement.

That review was duly undertaken and the resulting report (the Review report) was given to the Minister for Employment in August 2016.[10] The review itself was conducted by way of ‘a desktop review of activities of Safe Work Australia as reflected in published material and targeted discussions with stakeholders including Safe Work Australia members’.[11]

The Review report states that the following are recognised as successes of Safe Work Australia in the area of WHS:

  • significant reductions in the rates of workplace fatalities and serious injuries across the nation
  • the negotiation and development of model WHS laws, including an Act and regulations which have been implemented in seven of the nine Australian jurisdictions, and various codes of practice
  • development of a national policy to support a consistent approach to compliance and enforcement of the model legislative framework
  • development of over 150 supporting publications and advisory guidance material
  • the introduction of a revised national WHS strategy in 2012, which is aligned with the model WHS laws and
  • the continued provision of national data, and a central point for prioritising and leading research for the purpose of informing WHS and workers compensation policy.[12]

However, it also noted:

Progress on workers compensation arrangements has been less pronounced, however this can generally be attributed to external factors beyond the control of safe work Australia. These factors include the focus on harmonisation of WHS laws, underlying commercial issues and disparate jurisdictional perspectives and differences across the various workers compensation schemes.[13]

Conclusions of Review

According to the Review report, stakeholders considered that the principles embodied in Safe Work Australia's current functions largely remain valid. However, although its functions are clearly identified in the Safe Work Act, its role is not. It was considered that the lack of a clear legislated role for Safe Work Australia ‘has resulted in some ambiguity around its purpose and how it is to perform its functions’.[14]

According to the Review report, stakeholders identified that although Safe Work Australia has a statutory requirement ‘to ensure that a nationally consistent approach is taken to compliance and enforcement’[15] the implementation of the policy is an operational matter for regulators and outside Safe Work Australia's remit. That being the case, stakeholders felt that this function should be revised accordingly. In addition, there was a view that the remaining functions should be expressed ‘as part of a strategic framework which clarifies linkages across and between functions and the broader objective of Safe Work Australia’.[16]

The amendments in the Bill respond to those views.

Committee consideration

Selection of Bills Committee

At the time of writing this Bills Digest, the Selection of Bill Committee had not referred the Bill for inquiry and report.

Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills

At the time of writing this Bills Digest, the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills had not commented on the Bill.

Policy position of non-government parties/independents

At the time of writing this Bills Digest neither members of non-government parties nor independents had commented on the Bill.

Position of major interest groups

The stakeholder comments to the review have not been published separately from the final Review report. That being the case, this Bills Digest refers to those comments, where relevant, as set out in that report.

Financial implications

According to the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill, it will have no financial impact.[17]

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

As required under Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth), the Government has assessed the Bill’s compatibility with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of that Act. Whilst the Government acknowledges that the Bill engages Article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,[18] it considers that the Bill is compatible.[19]

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

At the time of writing this Bills Digest, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights had not commented on the Bill.

Key issues and provisions

New object clause

Stakeholder comment

According to the Review report, stakeholders were particularly supportive of Safe Work Australia as providing a strong framework for tripartite engagement on both WHS and workers’ compensation matters which would not otherwise be available.[20] In particular, the ACTU is reported as stating that ‘Safe Work Australia provides a strong forum for the social partners to have their views expressed and known. The tripartite forum is particularly important and Safe Work Australia provides a useful mechanism for consultation on critical workplace matters’.[21]

Key provision

Part 2 of the Safe Work Act provides for the establishment and functions of Safe Work Australia. Item 7 of the Bill inserts a new object clause into Part 2. Proposed section 5A provides that the object of establishing Safe Work Australia is to improve national WHS outcomes and workers’ compensation arrangements by providing an inclusive tripartite forum for representatives of governments, workers and employers to:

  • collaborate on national WHS and workers’ compensation matters and
  • lead the development of evidence‑based national WHS and workers’ compensation policies and strategies and
  • promote consistency in WHS and workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia.

The effect of proposed section 5A is to cement the tripartite forum in legislation. This responds to the concerns expressed in the Review report that Safe Work Australia’s role (rather than its functions) had not been clearly set out in it is establishing legislation.[22]

Functions

According to the Review report, amendments need to be made to the Safe Work Act to ‘update, consolidate and simplify the functions of Safe Work Australia to ensure they are clear, achievable and strategically focused for the future’.[23]

National policy and strategy

Currently, section 6 of the Safe Work Act sets out in table-form the 14 functions of Safe Work Australia. Item 8 of the Bill repeals and replaces the table to consolidate the functions of Safe Work Australia under eight topics.

Currently function 1 of Safe Work Australia is to develop national policy relating to the WHS and workers’ compensation. According to the Review report, stakeholders considered that Safe Work Australia’s ‘leadership role’ in developing national WHS and workers compensation policy is important and should continue’.[24]

Current function 5 is to develop a policy dealing with the compliance and enforcement of the Australian laws that adopts the approved model WHS legislation, to ensure that a nationally consistent approach is taken to compliance and enforcement. Although Safe Work Australia has developed a National Compliance and Enforcement Policy, the Review report noted that stakeholders had mixed views as to whether Safe Work Australia should be responsible for doing so—primarily due to the lack of clarity around the demarcation of responsibilities in relation to compliance and enforcement.[25]

Current function 9 is to devise and further develop the National WHS Strategy 2002–2012 which was released by the Ministerial Council on 24 May 2002, as amended from time to time. According to the Review report, ‘Safe Work Australia has performed this function extremely well’.[26] There was unanimous agreement that Safe Work Australia should continue to have a role in reviewing, reporting on and coordinating activity under the Australian WHS strategy. However, it was considered that ‘the wording is outdated and needs to be updated to avoid future obsolescence’.[27]

Proposed table item 1 in section 6 of the Safe Work Act rolls together existing functions 1, 5 and 9 so that Safe Work Australia is to develop, evaluate and revise National WHS and workers’ compensation policy and supporting strategies including a National WHS strategy and a national compliance and enforcement policy, to be developed for approval by the WHS Ministers.

Model WHS legislative framework

Currently functions 2 and 3 provide that it is a function of Safe Work Australia:

  • to prepare a model Act and model regulations relating to WHS and
  • to prepare model codes of practice for approval by the Ministerial Council and for adoption by the Commonwealth and by each of the States and Territories.

The Review report noted that the model WHS Act has been prepared. It was ‘informed by an extensive and comprehensive national review into WHS laws across Australia’ and was endorsed by WHS Ministers in December 2009.[28] In addition, some 23 model Codes of Practice have been approved by WHS Ministers. Despite the apparent progress in meeting this function, the consensus amongst stakeholders was that ‘the functions remain important, but they need to be updated to reflect the evolution of the model WHS laws’.[29]

Current function 4 requires Safe Work Australia to prepare other material relating to WHS and if necessary to revise that material. According to the Review report, Safe Work Australia has ‘published numerous interpretive guidelines, fact sheets, information sheets, case studies and other materials’ which can be accessed on their website.[30] A number of stakeholders identified the production of national guidance as important in facilitating nationally consistent approaches to WHS. The consensus amongst stakeholders was that the development of supporting WHS material is important and should continue.[31]

Current function 6 requires Safe Work Australia to monitor the adoption of that legislation in each jurisdiction. There was support for this as an ongoing function of Safe Work Australia. However, stakeholders considered that ‘the focus of the function should shift to monitoring, evaluating and reviewing the compliance and enforcement policy’.[32]

The Bill does not deliver a compliance and enforcement role to Safe Work Australia. Instead, proposed table item 2 in section 6 of the Safe Work Act amalgamates current functions 2–4 and 6 so that it is a function of Safe Work Australia to:

  • develop, evaluate and revise a model WHS legislative framework and other WHS material and
  • monitor the adoption by the Commonwealth, States and Territories of the model WHS legislative framework which has been approved by the WHS Ministers.

Item 4 of the Bill inserts the definition of model WHS legislative framework into section 4 of the Safe Work Act meaning, model regulations or model codes of practice relating to WHS, as amended from time to time, developed by Safe Work Australia for adoption by the Commonwealth, States and Territories. Items 66–69 in Part 2 of the Bill contain consequential amendments to replace references to ‘model OHS legislation or model OHS codes of practice’ with references to ‘model WHS legislative framework’.

Workers’ compensation

Currently function 11 of Safe Work Australia is to develop proposals relating to:

  • harmonising workers compensation arrangements across the Commonwealth, States and Territories and
  • national workers compensation arrangements for employers with workers in more than one of those jurisdictions.

According to the Review report, there were a number of concerns in relation to Safe Work Australia’s functions regarding workers’ compensation—possibly because this function is not clearly expressed, or is expressed in such a way as to not be achievable by Safe Work Australia. A particular sticking point is the reference to ‘harmonising’ as stakeholders do not consider that there is a ‘realistic prospect of harmonising workers’ compensation laws in the short to medium term’.[33] The Review report acknowledged that the majority of stakeholders were of the view that ‘workers’ compensation remains a valid function for Safe Work Australia, but that the function needs to be refocussed away from ‘harmonisation’ to more achievable outcomes, such as ‘promoting consistency’ in operational standards and practices’.[34] That being the case, proposed table item 3 in section 6 of the Safe Work Act provides that it is a function of Safe Work Australia to develop proposals to improve workers compensation arrangements, and to promote national consistency in such arrangements.

Evidence

Current functions at 7 and 8 deal with the collection of data and the requirement to conduct and publish research relating to WHS.

Proposed table item 4 in section 6 of the Safe Work Act contains evidence based functions including to collect, analyse and publish data as well as to undertake and publish research to inform the development and evaluation of relevant policies and strategies. This is consistent with the Review report which states that ‘stakeholders unanimously agree the collection and interrogation of workplace data in conjunction with targeted research are vital functions of Safe Work Australia’.[35]

Education and communication

Current function 10 requires Safe Work Australia to develop and promote national strategies to raise awareness of WHS and workers’ compensation. The Review report sets out a number of ways in which Safe Work Australia has satisfied this requirement including:

  • the Safe Work Australia Awards
  • National Safe Work Australia month
  • the annual virtual seminar series
  • sponsorships and speaking requests and
  • social media engagement.[36]

A number of stakeholders suggested that Safe Work Australia’s function should be modified to include ‘facilitating resource sharing, and partnering with states and territories to support and promote jurisdictional campaigns at the national level consistent with the Australian WHS strategy’.[37] However, proposed table item 5 in section 6 of the Safe Work Act replaces the existing national awareness strategy function with education and communication functions. Safe Work Australia will be required to develop and implement national education and communication strategies and initiatives:

  • to support improvements in WHS outcomes and workers’ compensation arrangements and
  • to promote national consistency in such strategies and initiatives.

Collaboration

Current function 13 requires Safe Work Australia to liaise with other countries or international organisations on matters relating to WHS or workers compensation. Safe Work Australia meets this requirement by participating in the international WHS and workers compensation community, including by hosting numerous international delegations and attending international fora to exchange information and intelligence on WHS and workers compensation matters.[38]

According to the Review report stakeholders had mixed views regarding Safe Work Australia’s performance of this function.[39] In particular it was suggested that ‘international engagement undertaken in pursuit of this function needs to be strategic and outcomes focussed’, and that it must ‘be linked to the delivery of other functions such as national policy development and the national strategy’.[40]

Proposed table item 6 in section 6 of the Safe Work Act replaces current function 13 so that it is a function of Safe Work Australia to collaborate with the Commonwealth, the states and territories and other national and international bodies, on WHS and workers compensation policy matters that are of national importance. This is consistent with the stakeholder views expressed in the Review report that the function of ‘liaising’ is too passive and simply reflects the sharing of information rather than a deeper engagement.[41] The requirement for ‘collaboration’ is in line with Safe Work Australia’s role of driving improvements in WHS outcomes and workers’ compensation arrangements.

Advising WHS Ministers

Current function 12 requires that Safe Work Australia is to advise the Ministerial Council on matters relating to WHS or workers compensation. Under the terms or the Inter-Governmental Agreement Safe Work Australia is report to the Ministerial Council as required. In particular, the reporting must include a three year strategic plan and annual operational plans, consistent with the strategic plan, for approval by the Ministerial Council.[42]

There is no longer a formal Ministerial Council through which to progress work and to clarify the interaction between Safe Work Australia members and WHS Ministers as a collective.[43] Some stakeholders did not consider it necessary to legislate this function. However, the Safe Work Act gives legislative effect to the matters agreed in the Inter-Governmental Agreement—including reporting requirements. Accordingly, proposed table item 7 in section 6 of the Safe Work Act replaces current function 12 so that Safe Work Australia is to advise the WHS Ministers on national policy matters and initiatives related to WHS and workers compensation.

Any other function

Proposed table item 8 in section 6 of the Safe Work Act a is set out in equivalent terms to those in current function 14, that is, Safe Work Australia is to undertake such other functions as are conferred on it by the Safe Work Act or any other Commonwealth Act. This function provides flexibility so that Safe Work Australia may undertake other functions which are as yet unspecified should that be required.

Item 2 of the Bill amends the summary of what the Safe Work Act is about in section 3 of the Safe Work Act, to reflect the updates to Safe Work Australia's functions.

Appendix B to this Bills Digest sets out in table form the proposed functions of Safe Work Australia compared to the functions set out in the Inter-Governmental Agreement.

Consequential amendments

As the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council no longer exists the Bill makes consequential amendments to the Safe Work Act to the ‘Ministerial Council’ to refer to ‘WHS Ministers’.[44]

Concluding comments

This Bill fine tunes the functions of Work Safe Australia so that they are better aligned to the functions specified in the Inter-Governmental Agreement. The provisions of the Bill are consistent with the findings of the Review report.

 

Appendix A

Current functions of Safe Work Australia compared with responsibilities in the Inter-Governmental Agreement

Functions of Safe Work Australia as outlined in section 6 of the SWA Act Responsibilities and function as outlined in the IGA
1 National policy about OHS and workers’ compensation to develop national policy relating to OHS and workers’ compensation; and

3.2.1 [ASCC replacement body] will be an independent Australian Government agency with the primary responsibility of driving national policy development in respect of OHS and workers’ compensation matters

3.2.2 (c) research, develop and recommend national OHS standards as appropriate;

3.2.2. (g) monitor key developments both national and international in OHS;

2 Model OHS legislation

to prepare a model Act and model regulations relating to OHS and, if necessary, revise them:

(a) for approval by the Ministerial Council; and
(b) for adoption as laws of the Commonwealth, each of the States and each of the Territories; and

3.2.2 (a) develop, monitor, maintain and provide advice to WRMC on model OHS legislation consisting of a model principal act, model regulations and model codes of practice, to be adopted by all jurisdictions;
3 Model OHS codes of practice

to prepare model codes of practice relating to OHS and, if necessary, revise them:

(a) for approval by the Ministerial Council; and
(b) for adoption as codes of practice of the Commonwealth, each of the States and each of the Territories and made under laws of those jurisdictions that adopt the approved model OHS legislation; and

3.2.2 (a) as above.
4 Other OHS material to prepare other material relating to OHS and, if necessary, revise that material; and 3.2.2 (a) as above.
5 Policy dealing with compliance and enforcement of approved model OHS legislation to develop a policy, for approval by the Ministerial Council, dealing with the compliance and enforcement of the Australian laws that adopt the approved model OHS legislation, to ensure that a nationally consistent approach is taken to compliance and enforcement; and 3.2.2 (b) develop a compliance and enforcement policy to ensure nationally consistent regulatory approaches across all jurisdictions;
6 Monitoring adoption of approved model OHS legislation etc. in jurisdictions

to monitor the adoption by the Commonwealth, states and territories of:

(a) the approved model OHS legislation as a law of those jurisdictions; and
(b) the approved model OHS codes of practice as codes of practice of those jurisdictions; and
(c) the approved OHS compliance and enforcement policy as a policy of those jurisdictions; and

3.2.2 (a) as above.
7 Collection of data etc. to collect, analyse and publish data or other information relating to OHS and workers’ compensation in order to inform the development or evaluation of policies in relation to those matters; and 3.2.2.(e) collect and analyse workplace injury and disease data and undertake research in order to inform the development and evaluation of OHS policy;
8 Research etc. to conduct and publish research relating to OHS and workers’ compensation in order to inform the development or evaluation of policies in relation to those matters; and 3.2.2 (c) research, develop and recommend national OHS standards as appropriate; 3.2.2 (e) as above.
9 National OHS Strategy 2002–2012 to revise and further develop the National OHS Strategy 2002–2012 released by the Ministerial Council on 24 May 2002, as amended from time to time; and 3.2.2 (f) oversee maintenance and further development of the National OHS Strategy 2002–2012;
10 National awareness strategies to develop and promote national strategies to raise awareness of OHS and workers’ compensation; and 3.2.2 (h) drive a national communications strategy to raise awareness of health and safety at work;
11 Workers’ compensation arrangements

to develop proposals relating to:

(a) harmonising workers’ compensation arrangements across the Commonwealth, States and Territories; and
(b) national workers’ compensation arrangements for employers with workers in more than one of those jurisdictions; and

3.2.1 [ASCC replacement body] will be an independent Australian Government agency with the primary responsibility of driving national policy development in respect of OHS and workers’ compensation matters;
12 Advising Ministerial Council on OHS and workers’ compensation to advise the Ministerial Council on matters relating to OHS or workers’ compensation; and 2.1.3 Role and Functions of WRMC 3.3. Reporting Requirements
13 Liaising outside Australia on OHS and workers’ compensation to liaise with other countries or international organisations on matters relating to OHS or workers’ compensation; and 3.2.2 (g) monitor key developments both national and international in OHS;
14 Other conferred functions such other functions that are conferred on it by, or under, this Act or any other Commonwealth Act. 3.2.2 (i) undertake any other functions that are agreed by WRMC.

Source: Department of Employment, Review of Safe Work Australia's role and functions, op. cit., Appendix D.

Appendix B

Proposed functions of Safe Work Australia compared with responsibilities in the Inter-Governmental Agreement

Proposed functions of Safe Work Australia as outlined in the Bill Responsibilities and function as outlined in the IGA
1 National policy about OHS and workers’ compensation

to develop, evaluate and, if necessary, revise national WHS and workers’ compensation policies and supporting strategies, including the following:

(a) a national WHS strategy, to be developed for approval by the WHS Ministers;
(b) a national compliance and enforcement policy, to be developed for approval by the WHS Ministers, for the model WHS legislative framework

3.2.1 [ASCC replacement body] will be an independent Australian Government agency with the primary responsibility of driving national policy development in respect of OHS and workers’ compensation matters

3.2.2 (a) develop, monitor, maintain and provide advice to WRMC on model OHS legislation consisting of a model principal act, model regulations and model codes of practice, to be adopted by all jurisdictions

3.2.2 (b) develop a compliance and enforcement policy to ensure nationally consistent regulatory approaches across all jurisdictions

2 Model OHS legislative framework and other WHS material

(a) to develop, evaluate and, if necessary, revise:

(i) a model WHS legislative framework, to be developed for approval by the WHS Ministers for adoption by the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories; and
(ii) other material relating to WHS and

(b) to monitor the adoption by the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories of the model WHS legislative framework approved by the WHS Ministers

3.2.2 (a) develop, monitor, maintain and provide advice to WRMC on model OHS legislation consisting of a model principal act, model regulations and model codes of practice, to be adopted by all jurisdictions

3.2.2 (f) oversee maintenance and further development of the National OHS Strategy 2002–2012

3 Workers’ compensation to develop proposals to improve workers’ compensation arrangements, and to promote national consistency in such arrangements 3.2.2 (a) as above.
4 Evidence

to:

(a) collect, analyse and publish relevant data; and
(b) undertake and publish research; to inform the development and evaluation of WHS and workers’ compensation policies and strategies

3.2.2.(e) collect and analyse workplace injury and disease data and undertake research in order to inform the development and evaluation of OHS policy;
5 Education and communication

to develop and implement national education and communication strategies and initiatives:

(a) to support improvements in WHS outcomes and workers’ compensation arrangements; and
(b) to promote national consistency in such strategies and initiatives;

3.2.2 (h) drive a national communications strategy to raise awareness of health and safety at work
6 Collaboration to collaborate with the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories, and other national and international bodies, on WHS and workers’ compensation policy matters of national importance 3.2.2 (g) monitor key developments both national and international in OHS
7 Advising the WHS Ministers to advise the WHS Ministers on national policy matters and initiatives relating to WHS and workers’ compensation 3.2.2 (a) as above.
8 Other conferred functions such other functions that are conferred on it by, or under, this Act or any other Commonwealth Act. 3.2.2 (i) undertake any other functions that are agreed by WRMC.

 


[1].         Note that throughout this Bills Digest, references are uniformly made to WHS rather than OHS. Item 5 of the Bill repeals the definition of OHS from the Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Safe Work Act).

[2].         Council of Australian Governments (COAG), Inter-Governmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in Occupational Health and Safety, (Inter-Governmental Agreement), COAG, Canberra, 2008, paragraph 1.1.

[3].        The primary function of the Australian Safety and Compensation Council was to declare national standards and codes of practice relating to occupational health and safety matters. Australian Workplace Safety Standards Act 2005, subsection 4(1).

[4].         Inter-Governmental Agreement, op. cit., paragraph 1.3.

[5].         P Pyburne, Safe Work Australia Bill 2008, Bills digest, 23, 2008–09, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 16 September 2008, p. 1.

[6].         Safe Work Australia, ‘About us’, Safe Work Australia website, 18 May 2017.

[7].         Inter-Governmental Agreement, op. cit., recital E.

[8].         Inter-Governmental Agreement, op. cit., clause 4.1.2.

[9].         Safe Work Act, section 72.

[10].      Department of Employment, Review of Safe Work Australia's role and functions, Department of Employment, Canberra, August 2016.

[11].      Ibid., p. 2.

[12].      Ibid., p. v.

[13].      Ibid., p. vi.

[14].      Ibid.

[15].      Safe Work Act, section 6, table item 5.

[16].      Department of Employment, Review of Safe Work Australia's role and functions, op. cit., p. vi.

[17].      Explanatory Memorandum, Safe Work Australia Amendment (Role and Functions) Bill 2017, p. i.

[18].      International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, done in New York on 16 December 1966, [1976] ATS 5 (entered into force for Australia on 10 March 1976).

[19].      The Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights can be found at page i of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill.

[20].      The tripartite engage is between Commonwealth, state and territory governments; employer representatives; and employee representatives.

[21].      Department of Employment, Review of Safe Work Australia's role and functions, op. cit., p. 9.

[22].      Ibid., p. vi.

[23].      Ibid.

[24].      Ibid., p. 13.

[25].      Ibid., p. 17.

[26].      Ibid., p. 36.

[27].      Ibid., p. 23.

[28].      Ibid., p. 14.

[29].      Ibid., p. 15.

[30].      Ibid., p. 16.

[31].      Ibid.

[32].      Ibid., p. 18.

[33].      Ibid., p. 26.

[34].      Ibid., p. 27.

[35].      Ibid., p. 35.

[36].      Ibid., p. 24.

[37].      Ibid., p. 25.

[38].      Ibid., p. 29.

[39].      Ibid.

[40].      Ibid., p. 30.

[41].      Ibid., p. 36.

[42].      Inter-Governmental Agreement, op. cit., clause 3.3.2.

[43].      COAG announced that there would be a review of Ministerial Councils in 2009. Source: COAG, Communiqué, COAG Meeting, Darwin, 7 July 2009. Following the review, COAG agreed to reforms that would see the number of Ministerial Councils reduced from over 40 to about 11 or fewer by March 2011. Source: R Lundie, ‘Reform of ministerial councils’, FlagPost, Parliamentary Library blog, 8 March 2011. Under the new system, enduring issues of national significance will be addressed through Standing Councils, while critical and complex issues will be addressed through limited life Select Councils. Source: COAG, Communiqué, Attachment C—more effective Ministerial Council system, COAG Meeting, Canberra, 13 February 2011, p. 1. The number of Ministerial Councils has since been reduced to eight. Source: COAG, Communiqué, COAG Meeting, Canberra, 13 December 2013, p. 4.

[44].      Items 1–65 of Part 2 to the Bill.

 

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