Actions - Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2023-2033

  • 01

    Information and awareness

  • 02

    National coordination

  • 03

    Data and intelligence gathering

  • 04

    Health and safety leadership

  • 05

    Compliance and enforcement


01Information and raising awareness

It is important to address the perception in some parts of the community that WHS conflicts with business productivity. There is also a general lack of community awareness of psychosocial risks. Many businesses (especially small businesses) want clearer guidance on their responsibilities - building their capacity and willingness to engage effectively in consultation, cooperation, and coordination in developing their approach to WHS is key.

Effective, coordinated information and awareness campaigns will require collaboration between jurisdictions. These campaigns should also be evidence-based and address gaps in knowledge and understanding of WHS.

Key actions:

  • Develop joint campaigns with materials and checklists to improve small business WHS awareness and compliance.
  • Consult with small business about their communication preferences for WHS guidance, training and gaps in knowledge.
  • Collaborate with worker representatives and industries with diverse workforces to reach groups of workers with higher health and safety vulnerability in high-risk industries.


02National coordination

There has been significant progress in improving national coordination across Australia’s WHS system. All jurisdictions have developed their own WHS strategies or plans, setting out specific priorities that complement the previous national Strategy. However, there is a fresh opportunity to increase coordination by sharing resources, collaborating on initiatives, and tackling complex challenges which affect all Australian workplaces (e.g. combatting harmful behaviours such as sexual harassment).

Key actions:

  • Share insights across jurisdictions and industries so that successful initiatives can be replicated and scaled in other jurisdictions and workplaces, leading to best practice being adopted across Australia.
  • Work with researchers to identify emerging WHS challenges. 
  • Engage with national employers to better understand impediments to working across jurisdictional lines.
  • Coordinate on monitoring and improving the WHS framework at the national level, including Safe Work Australia preparing WHS regulations, codes of practice and other materials.2 


03Data and intelligence gathering

Expanding the evidence base through an iterative approach to collating reliable and timely data is an enabling tool to address current and emerging WHS challenges. Collaboration is encouraged through data sharing between governments, industry, and other stakeholders. This allows trends and patterns to be identified, and new insights extracted that support evidence-based policy.

Key actions:

  • Identify new data sources from industry, social surveys and other sources that supplement official workers’ compensation claim statistics.
  • Collaborate across government, social partners and research communities to ensure that national surveys and other data collection efforts include WHS measures and occupational information where possible.


04Health and safety leadership

Governments, industry, organisations, and individuals (including PCBUs and workers) all have a leadership role to build a culture of health and safety and embrace systematic ways to manage WHS risks. Stakeholders can contribute in different ways. Governments at all levels in Australia can champion leading practice and investment in WHS as model employers. Regulatory partnerships can support the development of greater capacity and capability across the system. As duty holders, PCBUs can invest in organisational capability to manage and prevent WHS incidents.

Key actions:

  • Jurisdictions develop and refine their own detailed strategies and action plans to help address systemic WHS challenges or focus on particular groups of workers.
  • Liaise with the vocational education and training sector to influence future health and safety training requirements for workers and promote the importance of the WHS profession (for example occupational hygienists and physicians) as a career path.
  • Increase training of WHS Officers, worker representatives, managers and supervisors as key leaders of healthy and safe work in practice.


05Compliance and enforcement

A continued strong focus on compliance and enforcement is essential for ensuring PCBUs are meeting WHS duties. The WHS legislative framework will be tested over the next 10 years and may require updates to keep pace with the changing environment for work and the evolving pressures on PCBUs. Enforcing legislative and regulatory obligations and duties is a key enabler of unlocking the benefits of the WHS improvements envisaged in their drafting.

Actions by regulators offer an effective, efficient and economical intervention for lifting WHS practices and should be exercised when necessary. A focus on systematic WHS management by regulators will ensure duty holders’ compliance in line with the intent of regulation. The National Compliance and Enforcement Policy promotes a clear framework for engagement as well as a nationally consistent approach to compliance and enforcement of WHS laws.

Key actions:

  • Jurisdictions collaborate to improve compliance across supply chains of goods and labour.
  • Target national compliance and enforcement campaigns to poor performing sectors, including the high-risk sectors identified in this Strategy and those that emerge. Develop insights from data on prosecutions, notifications and breaches, and increase knowledge sharing across the WHS system.
  • Strengthen compliance on consultation, representation and supervision to improve worker health and safety.