Page 763 - Week 02 - Thursday, 23 February 2012

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Murrumbidgee education and training centre. The work of the transition officer is tailored to each individual student and as such will involve ongoing discussions with parents and other family members.

Assault and bullying in the workplace

Paper and statement by minister

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Health and Minister for Territory and Municipal Services): For the information of members, I present the following paper pursuant to the resolution of the Assembly of 7 December 2011:

Assault and bullying in the workplace—Report, dated 23 February 2012.

I ask leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MS GALLAGHER: I table the 2012 report on assault and bullying in the workplace. This information draws together private and public sector data and amplifies figures relating to the ACT public service which were made public late last year. I would like to make just a few comments to put this report into context for members.

Firstly, the figures make it clear that there are some workforce sectors where employees face higher than average risk of assault or bullying, mainly at the hands of clients or members of the public. It is plain from the data that the sectors at greatest risk are health, community services, education and, to a lesser degree, government administration. This was already apparent from the public sector data that was reported on late last year.

I make this point not to suggest that we should simply accept the heightened risk faced by some workers. For our part, we do what we can to minimise all risk, we do what we can to protect workers and we do what we can to equip workers to minimise their exposure and respond when endangered. The report I table today outlines the government’s substantial recent work in this regard.

But the existence of differential risk does mean that we need to be cautious that when we compare statistics we are comparing like with like. It would make no sense at all to compare the assault statistics for public sector prison officers, for example, with the statistics for private sector financial advisers and then to conclude that the government takes less care of its workers on the basis that the assault and bullying statistics are worse for prison officers.

Similarly, caution needs to be used when comparing reporting rates that are based on quite different thresholds. For example, the ACT public service incident reporting policy requires that all accidents and incidents be reported, whether or not they result in injury, whether or not complaints are substantiated, whether or not they are required by law to be notified to WorkSafe ACT. In fact, for the period 2008-11, just three per cent of the public sector incidents contained in this report were required to be notified to the regulator. By contrast, the data in this report relating to the private sector includes only those incidents reported to the regulator.

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