Operational Plan 2021 - 2022

The Safe Work Australia Operational Plan 2021 – 2022 details activities and the planned expenditure for the year. 

Safe Work Australia 2021–2022 Operational Plan

Legislative context 

Safe Work Australia was established under the Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Cth) (the SWA Act). In accordance with the SWA Act, this operational plan details the activities to be undertaken by Safe Work Australia and the planned expenditure for the year. Further, it is consistent with, and supports, the strategies in the Corporate Plan 2021–2025 and does not deal with the allocation of resources for the performance of Safe Work Australia’s functions.

Our purpose

Safe Work Australia has an important national role to achieve significant and continual reductions in the incidence of work-related death, injury and illness and to improve outcomes for injured workers and their employers. It is a tripartite forum representing the interests of the Commonwealth, states and territories, as well as workers and employers in Australia to: 

  • collaborate on national work health and safety (WHS) and workers’ compensation policy matters 
  • lead the development of evidence-based policy and supporting education and strategies, and 
  • promote consistency in WHS and workers’ compensation arrangements. 

This collaborative model recognises that national WHS and workers’ compensation outcomes are improved when all relevant views and interests are considered. 

This plan describes the activities to be undertaken by Safe Work Australia in performing its statutory functions during 2021–2022, within the total operating budget of $21.966m.

The activities we will undertake in 2021–2022

The activities we will undertake in 2021–2022 support the strategies outlined in the Safe Work Australia Corporate Plan 2021–2025 and reflect the priorities agreed by Safe Work Australia Members. 

During 2020, with the unanimous support of Members, we focused our efforts to respond to the unprecedented situation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021–2022, the significant WHS implications of the pandemic will remain an ongoing priority, and we will continue to collaborate with Members to assist Australian workplaces to manage the ongoing health and safety risks of COVID-19. We will also work to support employers, small businesses and workers to understand their rights and obligations throughout the national rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines. Our hub of COVID-19 WHS guidance and tools will continue to be central to our COVID-19 response. Collectively, this work will contribute to Australia’s economic recovery from the pandemic by helping to ensure safe workplaces and providing assurance to Australians that they are able to return to their usual activities. 

Notwithstanding the importance and priority of the COVID-19 response, we will also continue to progress other key activities. These activities include:

  • implementing WHS ministers’ responses to the recommendations of the independent review of the model WHS laws, and determining a way forward on the recommendations that do not receive requisite support  
  • finalising the review of the workplace exposure standards and progressing the recommendations to WHS ministers for approval
  • providing ongoing guidance and information to support the national transition to GHS Revision 7
  • progressing the occupational lung diseases workplan initiatives including education and awareness, research, and data investigation, collection and analysis
  • preparing guidance and information on WHS and workers’ compensation matters relating to the gig economy
  • facilitating a mental health advisory group and developing a model Code of Practice for psychosocial hazards 
  • continuing to enhance our data holdings and evidence base, including through the Data Improvement Project and by undertaking high-quality research on priority WHS and workers’ compensation issues 
  • progressing national initiatives under the National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030 to address the barriers to affected workers’ returning to work, and
  • consulting on and developing a new Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy.

In addition to these key activities, we will continue to undertake our core work in support of the current Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 and the National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030 by:

  • developing accessible, effective and practical material to support the model WHS legislative framework to aid understanding and compliance, particularly for small business
  • collecting, analysing and disseminating high quality evidence 
  • collaborating with our national and international counterparts, and 
  • increasing awareness and education through our online multimedia hub and National Safe Work Month.

How we will measure our performance

Our performance in delivering the activities identified in this plan will be measured against the performance criteria and targets included in the 2021–22 Safe Work Australia Portfolio Budget Statements and reported in the Safe Work Australia Annual Report.

Download the operational plan 

Supporting information


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