Page 5759 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 7 December 2011

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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Assembly met at 10 am.

(Quorum formed.)

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Work Health and Safety (Bullying) Amendment Bill 2011

Ms Bresnan, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (10.03): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

This bill proposes two important changes to the ACT’s work health and safety regime to help address bullying and other psychosocial hazards in the workplace. Firstly, it requires the ACT’s work health and safety authority, WorkSafe, to appoint at least three inspectors who have specialised expertise or experience in dealing with bullying in the workplace and other workplace psychosocial issues. Secondly, it establishes an expert advisory committee in relation to bullying in the workplace and other workplace psychosocial issues. These changes will enhance the ACT’s ability to respond to bullying issues, to take preventative action against bullying and to implement best practice and innovative laws and procedures.

The changes recognise workplace bullying as a serious and unique workplace hazard. Workplace bullying is a damaging and insidious practice that has a major impact on people’s lives and health. It is also damaging to workplaces and has impacts economically in terms of lost work hours and staff. Bullying is also prevalent across all industries and workplaces and has been recognised as an issue in all Australian jurisdictions.

Research conducted by Australian-based health psychologist Toni Mellington found that as many as 70 per cent of employees were currently being bullied or had been bullied at some time in the past. Similar findings were made by the Labour Council of New South Wales. Seventy-four per cent of the 840 respondents to a survey by the Labour Council said they had been bullied in the workplace and over half thought there was a culture of bullying in their workplace. The Labour Council lists workplace bullying as the number one occupational health and safety issue.

In the ACT, the most recent state of the service report shows that almost one in five Australian public service employees reported being subjected to harassment or bullying in the workplace. Data from Safe Work Australia reveals that bullying and

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