Page 3889 - Week 10 - Thursday, 20 September 2018

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A labour hire licensing scheme would contribute to the protection of some of the territory’s most vulnerable workers by ensuring operators comply with relevant work health and safety and industrial relations laws. Companies who wish to use labour hire services would also be subject to a legal obligation to use only licensed labour hire operators, making it harder for unscrupulous operators to participate in the market and reducing the incentive to employ workers on insecure and exploitative arrangements.

Recommendations made by both government and non-government members highlight group training organisations and their role in relation to labour hire. We will engage with stakeholders in respect of the appropriateness of their inclusion in a labour hire licensing scheme, noting that other jurisdictions have taken different approaches to this.

Prior to the introduction of a labour hire licensing scheme, whether national or local, the government will engage with the ACT community and will ensure information about compliance matters is clear and easily available. The government will also explore the best way to ensure easy access to a list of licensed operators, which might be similar to the other public registers maintained by Access Canberra.

Young workers are often vulnerable to being engaged on insecure work arrangements, and it is an unfortunate fact that many young workers do not know any different. In August 2017 I requested the tripartite ACT Work Safety Council to establish the apprentice, trainee and young worker advisory committee to consider and provide advice to government on how best to ensure apprentices, trainees and young workers are working in safe environments and are aware of their workplace safety rights and obligations.

The advisory committee comprised representatives from training organisations, government regulators, insurers, unions and employers. I recently received a copy of the advisory committee’s final report and have asked that further work be undertaken by the ACT Work Safety Council to address matters relating to mental health awareness, supervision and workplace rights.

This work will complement the young workers advice service. In the 2018-19 budget, the government committed $470,000 over four years to this service in order to empower apprentices, trainees and young workers with knowledge of their employment rights. The young workers advice service will be facilitated by an independent provider to encourage young and vulnerable workers to freely access information on rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

The government is also committed to educating young people before they enter the workforce, providing them with the opportunity to ask questions and seek more information in a more familiar environment, such as their school. This includes teachers and career practitioners presenting information on workplace safety and rights and responsibilities prior to and in preparation for work placements.

The government knows education and awareness is only one aspect of helping to prevent worker exploitation. Access Canberra has launched the WorkSafe

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