Page 2046 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

such as friendly visiting and self-help groups as well as administration and governance. As members know, all workplaces have the potential to generate risks for all workers.

Only this week I was honoured to attend the National Volunteering Week appreciation breakfast that was hosted by ACT Health to thank the over 450 volunteers who work across 20 programs within ACT Health, including the Canberra Hospital Auxiliary, chaplaincy, hand and foot massage, paediatrics and women’s and children’s hospital. As we all know, volunteers, like all of those they work with, are vulnerable to injuries from manual handling, exposure to dangerous substances and workplace accidents and other conditions that could cause harm to the workers. Unfortunately, volunteer carers and other volunteers can also be exposed to psychological and physical risks when working with vulnerable groups.

However, Mr Assistant Speaker, you will be glad to know that the ACT government has a strong commitment to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all its workers and those who interact with all ACT government programs, including volunteers.

If we focus on ACT Health, its initiatives in this area include: staff orientation sessions, ie, for volunteers, that have a strong focus on health and safety; mandatory manual handling training for all ACT staff, with targeted training for clinical staff; an influenza vaccine program which is available to all staff and volunteers to prevent the spread of current strains of the influenza virus within ACT Health; development of a comprehensive dangerous substances manual to enable all staff to easily understand and use across ACT Health; ACT Health-wide fatigue management policy to reduce the incidence of staff fatigue; ongoing work on the hand hygiene program to protect staff and patients, an evidence-based initiative to reduce the spread of infection.

Sectors other than ACT Health also attract high levels of volunteers, and all volunteers need to stay safe and healthy in their workplace. For instance, if we look at the many challenges that the 21st century gives us in the area of climate change, volunteers continue to play an important part, for instance, in protecting and restoring our environment and assisting the community to reduce its carbon footprint. This has been clearly demonstrated by the over 7,000 volunteers who have worked with organisations such as Greening Australia over the last decade to help revegetate the lower Cotter after the 2003 Canberra bushfires. Only last week, we talked about the number of volunteers that actually went up on the regeneration day to celebrate that regeneration, and there were a large number of volunteers, indeed, on that day.

No-one can argue about the safety issues that these volunteers face whenever they go about their work. I know how risky the terrain can be, with blackberry runners tripping one up, rough and uneven ground and the necessity to use mattocks for digging, not to mention carrying heavy buckets of water, sometimes over large distances, to water the new plantings. As I said, I speak from experience. Other Landcare volunteers are engaged in weed eradication involving spraying. Landcare volunteer managers take their responsibility seriously, as does Greening Australia, making sure all volunteers are properly trained and attired. Thanks to the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act that is designed to protect the health and safety of all workers,

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video