About Safe Work Australia

Safe Work Australia is a tripartite body with the following members:

  • an independent chair
  • members representing the Commonwealth and each state and territory
  • members representing the interests of workers
  • members representing the interests of employers, and
  • the Chief Executive Officer.

Further information about Safe Work Australia Members can be found under Our Members.

Safe Work Australia was established by the Safe Work Australia Act 2008 with primary responsibility to lead the development of policy to improve work health and safety and workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia. It performs its functions in accordance with strategic and operational plans agreed annually by the Select Council on Workplace Relations.

Safe Work Australia began operating as an independent Australian Government statutory agency on 1 November 2009. It is jointly funded by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments through an Intergovernmental Agreement.

As a national policy body Safe Work Australia does not regulate work health and safety laws. The Commonwealth, states and territories retain responsibility for regulating and enforcing work health and safety laws in their jurisdiction.

Intergovernmental Agreement

The Intergovernmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in Occupational Health and Safety was agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 3 July 2008. This agreement formalises the cooperation between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to achieve harmonisation of OHS laws.

Functions

The key functions of Safe Work Australia as set out in the Safe Work Australia Act 2008 are to:

  1. develop national policy relating to OHS and workers’ compensation
  2. prepare a model Act and model regulations relating to OHS and, if necessary, revise them:
    1. for approval by WRMC, and
    2. for adoption as laws of the Commonwealth, each of the States and each of the Territories
  3. prepare model codes of practice relating to OHS and, if necessary, revise them:
    1. for approval by WRMC, and
    2. for adoption as codes of practice of the Commonwealth, each of the States and each of the territories and made under laws of those jurisdictions that adopt the approved model OHS legislation
  4. prepare other material relating to OHS and, if necessary, revise that material
  5. develop a policy, for approval by WRMC, dealing with the compliance and enforcement of the Australian laws that adopt the approved model OHS legislation, to ensure that a nationally consistent approach is taken to compliance and enforcement
  6. monitor the adoption by the Commonwealth, states and territories of:
    1. the approved model OHS legislation as a law of those jurisdictions
    2. the approved model OHS codes of practice as codes of practice of those jurisdictions, and
    3. the approved OHS compliance and enforcement policy as a policy of those jurisdictions
  7. collect, analyse and publish data or other information relating to OHS and workers’ compensation in order to inform the development or evaluation of policies in relation to those matters
  8. conduct and publish research relating to OHS and workers’ compensation in order to inform the development or evaluation of policies in relation to those matters
  9. revise and further develop the National OHS Strategy 2002-2012 released by WRMC on 24 May 2002, as amended from time to time
  10. develop and promote national strategies to raise awareness of OHS and workers’ compensation
  11. develop proposals relating to:
    1. harmonising workers’ compensation arrangements across the Commonwealth, states and territories, and
    2. workers’ compensation arrangements for employers with workers in more than one of those jurisdictions
  12. advise WRMC on matters relating to OHS or workers’ compensation
  13. liaise with other countries or international organisations on matters relating to OHS or workers’ compensation, and
  14. perform such other functions that are conferred on it by WRMC.

Establishment of Safe Work Australia

The table below outlines the progress of Safe Work Australia to an independent statutory agency.

Organisation name and information Date
Safe Work Australia
On 1 November 2009 Safe Work Australia was
established as a Statutory Agency under the Safe Work Australia Act.
1 November 2009 - present
Safe Work Australia
On 1 July 2009 Safe Work Australia was established
as an Executive Agency under the Public Service Act 1996 and
prescribed under the FMA Act 1997.
July 2009 – October 2009

Safe Work Australia
On 31 March 2009 the ASCC was abolished and the Safe Work
Australia Council was created.

On 1 April 2009 Safe Work Australia was
established as an independent, separately branded entity within
the DEEWR to support the work of the Safe Work Australia Council.

Safe Work Australia was co-funded by the Commonwealth, state and
territory governments and replaced the Office of the ASCC.

April 2009 – June 2009

Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC)
The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations announced the
government would replace NOHSC with an administrative tripartite advisory
body, the Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC).

DEEWR was directly appropriated to support the functions previously
delivered by NOHSC from February 2005. These functions were undertaken
by the Office of the ASCC. The ASCC was established administratively
 in October 2005.

On 1 January 2006 NOHSC was abolished and the Australian Workplace
Safety Standards Act 2005
commenced providing the ASCC with the
statutory function to declare National Standards and Codes of Practices
for work health and safety.

COAG signed the IGA in July 2008. The agreement provided for the
establishment of a new national tripartite body with primary responsibility
for driving national policy development for work health and safety and workers’
compensation including the development of model WHS laws.

The Safe Work Australia Bill 2008 was introduced into the Australian
Parliament on 4 September 2008. Following two attempts to have
the legislation passed in the Senate, the Bill was laid aside on
4 December 2008.

On 12 February 2009 the Ministerial Council agreed Safe Work Australia
would be established as an Executive Agency under the Public Service Act 1999.

The establishment of Safe Work Australia administratively was considered
necessary to ensure the timetable for work health and safety harmonisation
determined by COAG was not jeopardised.

October 2005 – March 2009

National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC)
In October 1984 NOHSC was established administratively to lead and coordinate
national efforts to prevent workplace death, injury and disease.

In 1985 NOHSC was established as a tripartite statutory authority under the
National Occupational Health and Safety Commission Act 1985. It was a
Commonwealth authority for the purposes of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.

December 1985 – December 2005

Further information

Further information about Safe Work Australia can be found in the following:

Quick links and Initiatives

Initiatives

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