Safe Work Australia Council inaugural meeting review

Tuesday, 16 June, 2009

The Safe Work Australia Council held its inaugural meeting on 10 June 2009. The key issues discussed and matters agreed are outlined below.

Safe Work Australia Council strategic and operational plans

The Safe Work Australia Council (Establishment and Constitution) 2009 (the Constitution) requires that the Council prepare a strategic plan at least once every three years and an operational plan for each financial year. Both plans are to be submitted to the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council (WRMC) for approval.

The Council approved the draft Strategic Plan for 2009–2012 and the Operational Plans for 2008–2009 and 2009–2010 which include the activities that are to be undertaken by the Council in performing its functions. Each activity in the Operational Plans is developed in line with the Constitution and the National OHS Strategy 2002–2012. The plans will be available at following approval by WRMC.

Council consultative groups

The Council agreed to the establishment of the Strategic Issues Group on OHS matters and that the group should have:

  • a membership of one representative of Safe Work Australia, one representative from each of the Commonwealth/state/territory jurisdictions, two employee representatives and two employer representatives;
  • limited decision-making power to progress work of the Council in relation to the model OHS legislation and regulations, in the establishment of temporary advisory groups and to approve the release of publications on behalf of the Council; and
  • the ability to establish advisory groups to progress specific matters in relation to the functions of the Council. These reference groups would be established with membership agreed by the Strategic Issues Group. Advisory groups can be established with technical experts from outside the usual membership of the Council to include industry or community experts.

Model OHS legislation

The Council noted the proposed structure and content of the model OHS Act reflecting the decisions of WRMC on the recommendations of the National OHS Review.

The Council agreed to recommend a revised timeframe to WRMC in relation to the development of the model OHS Act. This includes the exposure draft of the model OHS legislation being released in September 2009 and the draft model OHS legislation submitted to WRMC for agreement by the end of 2009.

The Council agreed to the Strategic Issues Group overseeing work on the model OHS legislation, including considering and resolving policy issues that arise out of the recommendations. It also agreed to releasing the model OHS legislation and a Regulatory Impact Statement for a public comment period of six weeks following WRMC’s consideration of the exposure draft in September 2009.

Annual mesothelioma register

The Council agreed to the specifications of the Australian Mesothelioma Register, which requires the mandatory notification of mesothelioma to the cancer registries and combines with expertise in asbestos disease research and occupational epidemiology.

Annual mesothelioma report

The Council agreed to the online publication of the report Mesothelioma in Australia: Incidence 1982 to 2005, Deaths 1997 to 2006. The second annual mesothelioma report provides both national and state and territory data on the number and incidence rates of new cases and deaths from mesothelioma in Australia. The report uses information collected by the National Cancer Statistics Clearing House and the National Mortality Database. This data is provided by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The full report can be found at

Safe Work Australia Week

The Council agreed Safe Work Australia Week will be held 25–31 October 2009.

Further decisions

Further decisions made at the meeting included approving the list of official unit titles for each of the 26 licence classes which will form high-risk work units of competency.

The triennial review of the National OHS Strategy 2002–2012 was also endorsed. The aim of the second triennial review is to assess its efficiency, effectiveness and impact as the coordinating framework to improve OHS in Australia.

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