The Australian government has established an Australian Social Inclusion Board. This is what the government says is the purpose and challenges of the Board:
This social exclusion is a significant barrier to sustained prosperity and restricts Australia’s future economic growth.
Promoting social inclusion requires a new way of governing. Australia must rethink how policy and programs across portfolios and levels of government can work together to combat economic and social disadvantage.
The Australian Social Inclusion Board which brings together leaders from around the country, will be instrumental in meeting this challenge.
Tackling disadvantage involves generating effective, practical solutions at the level of government, local communities, of service providers, employers and of families and individuals themselves.
The Australian Social Inclusion Board will consult widely and provide views and advice to the Government.
I am glad that consultation will be broad. Narrow consultation, even in a tripartite structure, is often found to be too narrow and anti-inclusion. It is acknowledged that as good as broad consultation is, change and influence comes from having a seat at the table. I find it disappointing that an independent voice for occupational safety and health is not at the table given the higher rate of death and injury in workplaces of young workers, workers from outside Australia and workers with a poor command of the English language.
It would have been good to see the Australian government look beyond an artificial demarcation of work and non-work. The OHS profession and OHS legislation dumped this demarcation several years ago when we started to deal with psycho-social hazards in the workplace and the impact of workplace hazards on non-work activities.
If there is not a seat at the table, given that the Minister for Social Inclusion is also the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and that the board’s Chair, Ms Patricia Faulkner had an OHS role in the early 1990’s, I would expect safety (both occupational and non-occupational) to be a fixture on the board’s agenda.