The party politics of safety

The Safety Institute of Australia, commendably, approached the major political parties running in Australia’s current federal election campaign. Only the Australian Labor Party (ALP) responded to the SIA, but the policy documents of the Australian Greens and Liberal and National Parties are available online and their relevance to occupational health and safety (OHS) deserves attention.

The ALP information should be familiar to SafetyAtWorkBlog readers:

• “Show national leadership and meet with work, health and safety ministers from across Australia in the second half of this year to decide on the best course of action of the recommendations to come out of the Boland review.
• Work with state and territory governments to implement a harmonised industrial manslaughter offence.
• Establish a national advisory committee made up of representatives from each state and territory who have been personally impacted by a serious workplace injury or death to develop recommendations for federal, state and territory governments to act upon.”

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Workplace suicides require organisational analyses

Some media reports on the recent suicide of another Australian Federal Police (AFP) officer indicate a change away from the dominant perspective of addressing the individual worker rather than institutional factors.

This article is not denying that suicide is a personal decision.  It is an act that most of us do not understand and struggle to do so; this is partly because, unless a note is left or the person spoke to another about their intentions, we can never be sure why someone takes their own life.  As a colleague explained to me, we try to rationalise an irrational act, or at least an act that seemed rational to the person at the time.

The Australian Federal Police has had several

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Fels sets the scene for inquiries into workplace mental health

Earlier this week former chair of the Australian Government’s National Mental Health Commission, Allan Fels (pictured right) addressed a lunch hosted by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.  The topicality of his presentation stemmed from two major inquiries into mental health – one by the Federal Government and undertaken by the Productivity Commission (PC), the other is a Royal Commission from the Victorian Government.  The breadth of the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the PC inquiry has generated a very broad level of interest across the social spectrum.  The Royal Commission ToR are yet to be released.

Fels acknowledged the role that workplaces have in addressing mental health

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Productivity Commission sets stage for inquiry into mental health

The Australian Government has released the terms of reference into its Productivity Commission inquiry into mental health.  The inquiry has broad aims that clearly include occupational health and safety (OHS) and may set some evidence challenges for some of those in the workplace wellbeing sector:

“It will look at how governments across Australia, employers, professional and community groups in healthcare, education, employment, social services, housing and justice can contribute to improving mental health for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.” (emphasis added)

The Treasurer Josh Frydenberg MP has written that

“the Commission should consider the role of mental health in supporting economic participation, enhancing productivity and economic growth.”

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What will the Liberal/National coalition do for Victoria on OHS?

The Victorian Liberal/National Coalition’s election platform is available on-line, or at least an outline is.  On 21 November 2018 a couple of days out from the State Election, Opposition Leader, Matthew Guy, released the Coalition’s 6-page plan for their first 100 days in office, should they win on Saturday.

The State Platform of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia makes no mention of occupational health and safety (OHS) but there are many beliefs that would be dramatically affected if OHS is not managed appropriately. 

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