Page 3805 - Week 11 - Thursday, 24 November 2022

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Work health and safety—young workers

MR PETTERSSON: My question is to the Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety. Minister, what is the government doing to ensure that young workers are protected at work?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mr Pettersson for his question and his interest in the safety of workers across the ACT. The government take the safety of every member of our community seriously. We are especially concerned about the safety of our young people in their workplaces. Young people are one of the most at-risk groups when it comes to safety in the workplace. They make up a disproportionately high number of workers compensation claims in the territory, often for physical injuries.

In order to respond to the risk, WorkSafe ACT launched the Young Workers Strategy in November 2021. This strategy sets out the steps that our work safety regulator is taking to educate young people on their rights and responsibilities in the workplace and to ensure that they have access to resources and information if something does go wrong at work.

In the first two years of the strategy WorkSafe ACT are targeting young workers in priority industries such as construction, accommodation and food services, retail trade, and health care and social services. Part of the strategy has been the launch of the young workers portal, which was launched in the final week of Safe Work Month, in October this year. This portal is a one-stop shop for young people, their parents and their employers who want to know more about keeping young people safe at work.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, why is it important to focus on young workers?

MR GENTLEMAN: As I mentioned, young workers are among the most at-risk demographics when it comes to workplace exploitation and risk. This is because young workers are often in insecure work arrangements. They do not understand their rights at work and do not know what to do when they are exposed to risky workplace practices. When our kids are employed in hospitality, they are often employed casually. I am sure every member in this place has heard stories of young people speaking up their workplace, only to find that they are not being listened to or rostered on for shifts anymore. This should not be occurring.

Young people will make up a large proportion of the future workforce, and a culture of unsafe workplace practices and a lack of understanding around workplace rights means that the working conditions of the future will only get worse. It is important for the futures of our young people, the workforce and the economy to ensure that young workers have the ability and resources to protect themselves at work.

We should be encouraging young workers, and this is why the young workers portal is such a valuable resource. It provides young workers and their parents with information on their rights in the workplace and how to get help if they are being put in unsafe situations.

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