Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 29 June 2010) . . Page.. 2759 ..
If those organisations can demonstrate that they are under financial stress in the short term because of the long service leave scheme coming in, obviously we will have to work with those organisations. It is not as if we will allow an organisation to collapse because they are trying to implement the long service leave scheme.
All that remains to be explained is how the government will in fact work with affected community organisations. Does “work with” mean “provide additional funding for”? I call on the Treasurer and, if necessary, the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services to provide that explanation to the community.
MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (4.57): I stand to briefly comment upon the industrial relations portfolio within the Chief Minister’s Department. This portfolio, as it stands, is focusing on development of ACT government employment frameworks and developing federally harmonised occupational health and safety legislation. The ACT Greens have expressed our concerns regarding the national harmonisation process, particularly in relation to the analysis as to whether the harmonised legislation would actually increase safety standards in Canberra workplaces.
We recognise that the ACT government took part in a governmental agreement to harmonise OHS legislation. However, we would urge and hope that the implications of this agreement will not downgrade ACT OHS legislation, which is recognised as being very strong.
The harmonised legislation takes away some elements of the ACT Work Safety Act, such as the private prosecution provisions. While we recognise that this provision has not yet been used, we believe that it is a useful safeguard in the event of a failure of government regulators to act. Furthermore, given that, by the government’s own figures, only 75 per cent of businesses comply with the relevant OHS legislation, including a provision which lessens deterrence is problematic.
Additionally, under output 1.3 for the Chief Minister’s Department, the budget papers identify “providing advice to Government on developments in the national workplace safety agenda”.
The ACT Greens suggest that the government examine workplace stress and mental health hazards as a matter of urgency. Both workplace safety legislation and workplace culture do not recognise mental health matters as a grave and urgent risk to the workplace. Indeed, the current state of affairs is such that workers are, for the most part, discouraged from identifying and reporting psychosocial risks in the workplace. We have a huge number of white-collar workers in Canberra, for whom workplace mental health hazards are the biggest danger in the workplace. The ACT Greens believe that facilitating both a change in legislation and a change in culture should be a focus of workplace safety legislation.
The ACT can and should be a leader in recognising that mental illnesses such as depression are often attributable to unhealthy work environments, in the same way as physical injuries stem from unsafe physical environments. We will encourage CMD to work together with WorkSafe and the Office of Regulatory Services, as well as