Who we are and what we do

Information about us, our role and functions and why our work is so important.

Safe Work Australia is an Australian government statutory agency. We develop national policy to improve work health and safety (WHS) and workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia. 

We work to: 

  • develop and evaluate national WHS and workers’ compensation policy and strategies 

  • develop and evaluate the model WHS legislative framework 

  • undertake research 

  • collect, analyse and report data 

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. 

Our vision 

Healthier, safer and more productive workplaces through improvements to Australian work health and safety and workers’ compensation arrangements. 

All workers, regardless of their occupation or how they are engaged, have the right to a healthy 

and safe working environment.  

Work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses have a devastating impact on workers, their families and the community. They not only cause physical, mental and emotional distress but also impose a significant cost on the Australian economy. 

We develop policy aimed at reducing the incidence of work-related death, injury and illness, and exposure to hazards and risks in the workplace.  

Learn more about who we are, what we do and why our work is important in the video below.  

Our members

We are a tripartite body representing the interests of the Commonwealth, states and territories, as well as workers and employers.  

Safe Work Australia has 15 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 (CEO) of Safe Work Australia. 

Our Members are supported by an agency with around 100 Australian Public Service employees. 

For more information about Safe Work Australia Members and our agency, go to Our people. 

We also work with other organisations and people who influence good work health and safety practice.  

For more information, go to Who we work with.  

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

Item 

 Topic 

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 

  1. other material relating to WHS; and 

  1. 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 

Evidence 

to: 

  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 

Collaboration 

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. 

 

Supporting information