Page 809 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 6 April 2022

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A discussion paper, summary fact sheets and a survey were released on the YourSay website in October 2021, and the directorate also conducted a number of community roundtables. Submissions closed on 30 January 2022 and a listening report is being finalised. Overall, the submissions and survey responses indicate strong public support for the introduction of the positive duty, although there were differing views on the scope and mechanisms for enforcement. I anticipate that the Minister for Human Rights will release a consultation draft bill for public consideration later this year.

Work is also continuing in the area of government procurement, building on the changes made in 2019 to ACT government procurement practices brought about by the Secure Local Jobs Code. Policy design work is underway to deliver the recommendations to further improve the safety of workers in the ACT. Existing measures within the ACT’s procurement framework already require the ACT public sector to consider diversity, equality and inclusion of suppliers and potential suppliers under the Government Procurement (Charter of Procurement Values) Direction 2020. These measures include consideration of gender equity and worker safety, ensuring that entities covered by the code comply with the commonwealth Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, which seeks to promote and improve gender equality in Australian workplaces.

A crucial consideration of our tender evaluation process is that territory policy is to not enter into contracts with parties who do not comply with the Workplace Gender Equality Act, and a tenderer may be excluded from further consideration if found in breach of this act’s obligations.

In addition to the procurement values, the ACT’s ethical treatment of workers evaluation framework operates to ensure that the ACT government contracts with tenderers who demonstrate behaviours and business practices aligned with the charter and that remain compliant with their obligations under the Secure Local Jobs Code. The evaluation includes criteria that assess whether employment and safety outcomes for workers will be protected, which provides an important mechanism for assessing and identifying potential psychosocial hazards and their impact on worker safety.

Incorporating reporting requirements relevant to the motion to identify incidences of harassment, sexual harassment and gender-based violence continues to be complex. Work is underway to engage with key stakeholders across government to fully appreciate the complex legal, privacy and policy impacts that arise with additional reporting requirements. This will support consultation across a broader network to determine the most effective and appropriate mechanisms to respond to the recommendations within the procurement framework.

Additional reporting obligations would need to be balanced against the costs of centralising management and implementing a new ICT capability to meet the policy objective of the motion, with careful consideration given to the privacy and confidentiality aspects of the reporting mechanism.

Through this collective action across government, we will work together to bring to fruition improvements to our regulatory frameworks, our business and policy

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