On May 20, 2021, Australia’s Work Health and Safety (WHS) Ministers to discuss a range of occupational health and safety (OHS) matters. One matter will be the inclusion of a specific requirement on employers that, according to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU):
“…. would finally require employers to identify and address risks to mental health, in the same way, they are required to with risks to physical health.”
What the ACTU fails to make clear is why this regulatory change is required when the duty to provide a physically and psychologically safe and healthy workplace already exists in the current OHS/WHS laws in Australia.
The ACTU does, however, with the help of the Australia Institute and Centre for Future Work, provide more data on work-related mental health. The union movement is one of the few voices that acknowledge the structural elements of OHS but fails to consider any options other than regulation and, with a federal conservative government in power, it is unlikely to receive an attentive audience.