Page 3675 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 November 2022
I note the concerns of the scrutiny committee about the right to privacy in these notifiable instruments. I am reassured by the government response listing those steps that are in place to protect the privacy of those who are subject to workplace sexual assault. I do, however, believe that we, as a government, will need to monitor to ensure that we have the delicate balance between effectively keeping employees safe in their workplaces and the protection of privacy of those who come forward to report an incident and ensuring that the legislation is achieving its objectives.
Recommendation 20 of the Boland review recommended that incident notification provisions be reviewed to provide for notification triggers for psychological and psychosocial injuries. I hope to see this in place as soon as possible. I believe that the reforms in this bill will help contribute to that recommendation.
Finally, the bill’s amendments to the Workers Compensation Act 1951 to expressly permit the taking and accrual of annual and long service leave while workers are receiving workers compensation payments is a welcome change to stop the penalisation of workers who, through no fault of their own, have been injured and are receiving compensation and to allow them to accrue leave as would any other worker.
Overall, this legislation improves the protection of the health and safety of workers in the Canberra community. These enhancements will provide a more effective deterrent against poor work safety practices. Hence, the ACT Greens support this bill.
MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (11.12): In 2018 Ms Boland, an independent expert in work health and safety regulation, reported to Safe Work Australia on her review of the national model work health and safety laws. Ms Boland’s review was thoroughly researched and was supported by extensive consultation. Recommendation 20 of the review called for incident notification provisions within the national model laws to be reviewed to provide for notification triggers for psychological injuries and adjusted as required to capture incidents, injuries and illnesses that are emerging from new work practices, industries and work arrangements.
While Safe Work Australia is leading the national review of the incident notification provisions, it is appropriate that the territory government has decided to expand the incident notification provisions to include workplace sexual assault incidents ahead of these national reforms in order to alert the regulator, WorkSafe ACT, about these serious incidents that require timely and independent investigation.
Under the current arrangements, workplace sexual assault incidents are only notified to the regulator when medical treatment has been provided or if there has been a hospital admission. This does not appropriately reflect the seriousness of sexual assaults nor the significant psychosocial impact on the victim. It also places the reliance of the notification of the incident on the individual seeking the treatment. This is unacceptable, and the ACT cannot wait any longer to give effect to these important work health and safety reforms.
These legislative changes put the onus and obligation on the employer to make the sexual assault incident notification to the regulator and will allow the regulator to