Who we are and what we do

Safe Work Australia is a national policy body representing the interests of the Commonwealth, states and territories, as well as workers and employers. We work to achieve healthier, safer and more productive workplaces through improvements to work health and safety (WHS) and workers’ compensation arrangements. 

As a national policy body, we don’t regulate WHS laws or administer workers’ compensation arrangements. The Commonwealth, states and territories regulate and enforce WHS laws and administer workers’ compensation schemes in their jurisdictions. 

Work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses have a devastating impact on workers, their families and the community. While work-related injury and fatality rates have fallen over the last decade, each year just under 200 workers are killed by, and over 100,000 compensated for, work-related injury. Findings from Safe Work Australia’s Safer, healthier, wealthier: The economic value of reducing work-related injuries and illnesses research show that in the absence of work-related injuries and illnesses on average each year Australia’s economy would be $28.6 billion larger, 185,500 additional full-time equivalent jobs would be created, and workers across all occupations and skill levels would benefit from an average wage rise of 1.3%.

All workers, regardless of their occupation or how they are engaged, have the right to a healthy and safe working environment. The work that we do is focused on developing national policy aimed at reducing the incidence of work-related death, injury and illness, and exposure to hazards and risks in  Australian workplaces.

Our role and functions

We are jointly funded by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments through the Intergovernmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in Occupational Health and Safety

We perform our functions in accordance with our Corporate plan and Operational plan. These are agreed by WHS Ministers. 

Our key functions are set out in the Safe Work Australia Act 2008



The functions of Safe Work Australia are: 

National policy and strategy 

to develop, evaluate and, if necessary, revise national WHS and workers’ compensation policies and supporting strategies, including the following: 

  1. a national WHS strategy, to be developed for approval by the WHS Ministers; 

  1. a national compliance and enforcement policy, to be developed for approval by the WHS Ministers, for the model WHS legislative framework; and 

Model WHS legislative framework and other WHS material 

  1. to develop, evaluate and, if necessary, revise: 
    1. a model WHS legislative framework, to be developed for approval by the WHS Ministers for adoption by the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories; and 
    2. other material relating to WHS; and 
  2. to monitor the adoption by the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories of the model WHS legislative framework approved by the WHS Ministers; and 

Workers’ compensation 

to develop proposals to improve workers’ compensation arrangements, and to promote national consistency in such arrangements; and 



  1. collect, analyse and publish relevant data; and 

  1. undertake and publish research; 
    to inform the development and evaluation of WHS and workers’ compensation policies and strategies; and 

Education and communication 

to develop and implement national education and communication strategies and initiatives: 

  1. to support improvements in WHS outcomes and workers’ compensation arrangements; and 

  1. to promote national consistency in such strategies and initiatives; and 


to collaborate with the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories, and other national and international bodies, on WHS and workers’ compensation policy matters of national importance; and 

Advising the WHS Ministers 

to advise the WHS Ministers on national policy matters and initiatives relating to WHS and workers’ compensation; and 

Other conferred functions 

such other functions that are conferred on it by, or under, this Act or any other Commonwealth Act. 

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Supporting information