Update from Marie Boland: The first four weeks

over 1 year ago
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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:

  1. the requirement for duty holders to consult, co-ordinate and co-operate to meet shared duties, and
  2. 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.