Thank you to everyone who participated in the public submission period of the review by preparing written submissions and/or attending my consultations across Australia. Now that the public consultation period is closed, I am carefully considering your views, insights and experiences. This feedback has been invaluable. My consultation summary
is now available on the Safe Work Australia website.
I am currently working on the final report which will be finalised by the end of this year.
The period for making a written submission to the review ended on Friday, 13 April. 129 submissions were received sharing a diverse range of views, experiences and ideas. I also completed my initial round of consultation meetings across Australia in May, and have now closed the discussion forums.
I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who has taken the time to meet with me, prepare a submission or contribute to the discussion forums over the past couple of months. I have really appreciated everyone’s genuine passion for and commitment to work health and safety.
You can read the submissions published as part of my consultation process and comments made in the Review discussion forums on the Review’s Engage page.
I have started consolidating and analysing your feedback, and plan to release an update on the issues raised during my consultation in the next few months. Thank you again.
The public submission process is in its final stages and closes next Friday, 13 April 2018. Businesses, workers, unions, regulators, practitioners and anyone with an interest in the model WHS laws have one week left to share views and experiences.
Since my last update I have visited Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. Next week, I will meet with people in Canberra. A number of consistent themes are emerging about how the model WHS laws are working on the ground and some innovative ideas about what could change to ensure the laws are as effective as possible. Some of these relate to the consultation obligations for multiple duty holders, how we manage risks to psychological health, clarity around incident notification and how to effectively consult with workers.
I want to make sure that I gather as much evidence as possible to assess these issues and ideas. To do this, I need your help to identify relevant material like case studies, research and data. This will help me understand how things are or aren’t working in practice and strengthen the case for change where it might be needed.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to add your thoughts and experiences to the online discussion forums or make a submission on behalf of yourself or your organisation.
Last week marked the halfway point of the public submission and consultation process for the review of the model work health and safety (WHS) laws.
I have held over 30 meetings and met with approximately 130 people across Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory over the past four weeks. I am learning a lot about how the WHS laws are working in practice through my conversations with regulators, WHS and legal practitioners, businesses, unions, industry organisations, researchers and community groups. I have also been pleased to read the insightful comments coming through the discussion forums and submissions.
So far I have heard a range of common themes and challenges including:
- The role of the model WHS laws in providing consistency and a common language for safety, particularly for organisations operating across multiple states and territories.
- A desire for clarity and a common understanding around consultation and representation requirements.
- The complexities of dealing with regulatory scope creep between WHS and public health and safety, particularly in the recreational and adventure tourism industries.
- An appetite from small business for more practical advice and guidance around interpreting the WHS laws.
- The challenges of psychological health, including bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Hazards associated with isolated or remote work, for example workplace violence.
Reflecting the views and experiences shared with me to date, I have decided to open two new discussion forums to further explore:
- the requirement for duty holders to consult, co-ordinate and co-operate to meet shared duties, and
- worker consultation provisions, including provisions for consultation policies, Health and Safety Representatives and WHS Committees.
Having heard about the issues in these areas, I am now keen to hear your suggestions for improvement, including your rationale.
I encourage you to keep contributing to the online discussion forums or make a written submission in response to the discussion paper. Your feedback is vital to ensure my review report reflects your knowledge and experiences.