Page 1868 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022
commitment to keep people safe at work. This is a commitment that has also been articulated in the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement of the Tenth Legislative Assembly to review and amend work health and safety laws to keep Canberrans safe. It is a commitment that is central to what we do as a Labor government.
Amendments in this bill to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 will implement a number of recommendations from Marie Boland’s review of the national template work health and safety laws. Following this review in May last year, workplace health and safety ministers agreed on actions against the 34 Boland review recommendations. Safe Work Australia, the national policy body responsible for maintaining the model laws, has been incrementally updating its template legislation in response. A number of improvements have been developed and today in the ACT we are implementing those. These changes have been a long time coming. Now that we are starting to see them, we have a responsibility to adopt them as early as possible to ensure that our laws keep pace with the nationally agreed model law changes.
Nine of the 34 Boland review recommendations will be implemented through this amendment bill. They are associated with the recommendations about providing greater clarity for duty holders about their work health and safety obligations; ensuring that WHS offences are effective in deterring non-compliance; ensuring that liability for penalty amounts under WHS laws cannot be insured against; and strengthening cross-border information-sharing arrangements between regulators.
Amendments are also proposed to the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011. These implement two recommendations from the Boland review relating to the statutory notices issued by the regulator, evidence of operator training and instruction within amusement device logbooks, and clarification about compliance with national standards referenced through the WHS laws.
In addition to implementing the Boland review, this amendment bill extends work health and safety incident notification laws to require employers to report sexual assault incidents occurring at their workplaces to the work safety regulator. Currently, these workplace incidents would only be notified if there is a hospital admission or medical treatment provided. This should not be the case. The prevalence of workplace sexual assault and harassment has been in the public discourse over recent years, particularly since the Respect@Work national inquiry into sexual harassment report in 2020 and the independent review into commonwealth parliamentary workplaces in 2021. All forms of workplace violence, including sexual assault, are absolutely unacceptable and have serious health and safety impacts for workplaces and workers. Employers play a key role in ensuring that workplaces are safe for all workers, which includes the elimination of risks and hazards that might contribute to sexual assault.
I want to recognise the CPSU for its advocacy on making this change to our work safety laws, especially Bec Adams, who is in the chamber today. We will keep working together to make sure that workplaces are safe for everyone. Like we are doing today, we will continue to make change together.
Recommendation 20 of the Boland review recommended that incident notification provisions be reviewed to provide for notification triggers for psychological injuries.