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Government and Parliament


Under the Act, the Chief Executive Officer is to keep the Minister informed of Safe Work Australia’s progress in performing functions. Minister for Employment Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash was the Minister responsible for Safe Work Australia from 21 September 2015. Prior to this, Senator the Hon Eric Abetz was the responsible Minister.

Safe Work Australia

Safe Work Australia comprises 15 members including an independent Chair, nine members representing the Commonwealth and each state and territory, two members representing the interests of workers, two representing the interests of employers and the Chief Executive Officer of Safe Work Australia. Members are supported by the staff of Safe Work Australia and various committees and groups for both technical and policy matters.

Safe Work Australia is required to convene at least three meetings each financial year. Safe Work Australia met seven times in 2015–16. The members as at 30 June 2016 were:

Diane Smith Gander

Ms Diane Smith-Gander, Chair
Ms Smith-Gander was welcomed as the new Chair on 5 February 2016. Ms Smith-Gander is Chairman of Broadspectrum Limited, non‑executive director of Wesfarmers Limited, a CEDA board member and President of Chief Executive Women, Australia’s pre-eminent women’s advocacy group. Ms Smith-Gander has held a wide range of non-executive roles in the past including Deputy Chairperson of NBNCo, non-executive director of the CBH Group, Commissioner of Tourism WA and board member of the Committee for Perth. She holds an MBA from the University of Sydney and a BEc from the University of Western Australia (UWA). In 2015 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Economics from UWA. She is a Fellow of the AICD and Governance Institute of Australia and an adjunct professor of corporate governance at UWA where she serves on the advisory board of the Business School. She is a Council member of Perth’s Methodist Ladies College.Ms Ann Sherry AO, Chair (to February 2016).

Ann Sherry

Ms Ann Sherry AO, Chair (to February 2016)
Ms Sherry completed her three year term as Chair on 4 February 2016. Ms Sherry is the Chief Executive Officer of Carnival Australia and holds a number of non-executive roles with Sydney Airport Corporation, ING Direct (Australia), Myer Family Co Investments, Cape York Partnership and the Australian Rugby Union. Ms Sherry is also the Chair of Cruise Lines International Associate South East Asia. In 2013, she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by Macquarie University for her contribution to business and civil society and in 2014, an Honorary Doctorate of Business by the University of Queensland.

Michelle Baxter

Ms Michelle Baxter, Safe Work Australia
Ms Baxter is the Chief Executive Officer of Safe Work Australia. Her biography can be found in Part 4 - The organisation.

Anthony Lean

Mr Anthony Lean, New South Wales
Mr Lean is the Deputy Secretary Better Regulation and Chief Executive of State Insurance Regulatory Authority. In addition Mr Lean has responsibility for SafeWork and the Government’s Better Regulation agenda and a number of Government businesses: NSW StateFleet, ServiceFirst, State Records Authority and the GovConnect.nsw. Mr Lean’s previous roles in the Department were as Deputy Secretary Government Services, and Deputy Secretary Policy and Executive Services where he led whole-of-government reforms in ICT, procurement, government data centres and shared services transformation. Prior to this, Anthony spent seven years as the Executive Director of Legal Branch in The Cabinet Office and the Department of Premier and Cabinet before coming to the Department of Finance and Services as General Counsel in August 2009.

Clare Aimes

Ms Clare Amies, Victoria
Ms Amies is the Chief Executive of WorkSafe Victoria. Ms Amies has held several Executive Director roles at WorkSafe, including Executive Director of the Insurance Business Unit and Executive Director of the Health and Disability Strategy Group. Ms Amies has held senior management positions for the past 15 years in social welfare, health policy, return to work, operational management, strategy and planning. Prior to joining WorkSafe, she was the Chief Executive Officer of Western Region Health Centre.

Simon Blackwood

Dr Simon Blackwood, Queensland
Dr Blackwood is the Deputy Director-General for the Office of Industrial Relations, within Queensland Treasury. His responsibilities and functions include supporting improved workplace health and safety and electrical safety performance through the regulatory framework; provision of services, regulatory responsibility and provision of policy advice on workers’ compensation matters; and supporting a productive industrial relations framework for the private sector in Queensland. Dr Blackwood’s previous roles have included Executive Director of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and prior to that General Manager of Private Sector Industrial Relations.

Marie Boland

Ms Marie Boland, South Australia
Ms Boland is the Executive Director of SafeWork SA. Prior to this she has held the position of Director, Policy and Strategy, Director, Community Engagement, Chief Policy Officer and Industrial Relations Inspector, all at SafeWork SA. Marie played a key role in supporting the enactment and implementation of the South Australian version of the model Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations. She was also actively involved in the policy and legislative work surrounding South Australia’s referral of industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth.

Lex McCulloch

Mr Lex McCulloch, Western Australia
Mr McCulloch is the Western Australian Commissioner of WorkSafe Western Australia. He has been in the Western Australian Public Sector since 1978 when he joined the Department for Community Welfare. He has worked in a variety of locations and roles across the State including Derby, Kalgoorlie, Port Hedland and Perth. Mr McCulloch’s various roles have provided him with a range of experiences such as leading restructuring processes, delivering on significant projects and leading service delivery units, all of which have been aimed at improving the wellbeing of people in Western Australia.

Michael Young

Mr Michael Young, Australian Capital Territory
Mr Young is a personal injury management professional with over 15 years’ experience in senior workers’ compensation and work safety regulatory roles. He is currently the Executive Director, Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, a division of the ACT Government’s Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate. In this capacity he is the senior ACT Government official responsible for the Territory’s industrial relations, workers’ compensation and work safety regulatory frameworks. In addition to his duties as Executive Director, Mr Young represents the Territory on two ministerial advisory committees, the ACT Work Safety Council and the Default Insurance Fund Advisory Committee, which he chairs. Mr Young is also the Chair of SIG-Workers’ Compensation.

Martin Shirley

Mr Martin Shirley, Tasmania
Mr Shirley is the Chief Executive of WorkSafe Tasmania. He has held senior management positions for the past 20 years in industrial relations, operational management, strategy, planning and communications. Prior to joining WorkSafe, Martin worked for WorkCover Tasmania within the Department of Justice. His most recent role was Director, WorkCover Tasmania responsible for the strategic management of WorkCover operations as well as other areas including the directorate, health and safety innovation and communications. Martin is Tasmania’s Asbestos Compensation Commissioner, Secretary of WorkCover Tasmania and Tasmania’s Regulator of WHS.

Stephen Gelding

Mr Stephen Gelding, Northern Territory
Mr Gelding is the Executive Director of NT WorkSafe, a division of the Northern Territory Government Department of Business. He commenced with NT WorkSafe as Senior Director in July 2013. He has over 35 years’ experience as a clinician and in senior management positions predominantly within the health and community services sector of the NT public service. Mr Gelding is also appointed as the Work Health Authority, the Electricity Safety Regulator and the Chief Inspector under the Radioactive Ores and Concentrates (Packaging and Transport) Act. He is a member of the Workers’ Rehabilitation and Compensation Advisory Council, as well as being the Chair of the NT Workers’ Rehabilitation and Compensation Scheme Monitoring Committee and a member of the (Northern Territory) Inter-Agency Asbestos Management Working Group.

Justine Ross

Ms Justine Ross, Commonwealth
Ms Ross is Branch Manager of the WHS Policy Branch in the Department of Employment. In her current role she is responsible for policy development and advice on Commonwealth WHS, maritime workers’ compensation and WHS matters (for the Commonwealth’s Seacare scheme), asbestos matters and workplace relations issues concerning the building industry. Ms Ross has a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts from Macquarie University. She is admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor in the ACT. Ms Ross has expertise in workplace relations law including WHS and workers’ compensation matters. Ms Ross is deputy member of the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission and the chair of SIG-Explosives.

Michael Borowick

Mr Michael Borowick, Australian Council of Trade Unions
Mr Borowick is an Assistant Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and oversees the work of the Occupational Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation team. He represents the ACTU as a member of the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council; Safe Work Australia; Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission; Defence Reserves Support Council and Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council. Prior to his current position, Mr Borowick was an official of the Australian Workers’ Union for 20 years, where he was the Victorian Branch Assistant Secretary and a member of the AWU National Executive.

Andrew Dettmer

Mr Andrew Dettmer, Australian Council of Trade Unions
Mr Dettmer is National President of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. Prior to this he was State Secretary for the Queensland/ NT Branch from 2003 until 2012. He has been an official of the union, at both National and State levels, since 1988. Mr Dettmer has held a number of board positions, including the boards of QMI Solutions, the Queensland Training and Employment Recognition Council, and Construction Skills Queensland. He was also Chair of Manufacturing Skills Qld, and an ACTU nominee to the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency prior to its abolition. He is currently on the board of Carbon Nexus, the Australia Institute, and Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad (APHEDA), the ACTU’s overseas aid arm.

Carolyn Davis

Ms Carolyn Davis, Australian Chamber
Ms Davis is Director Work Health, Safety and Workers’ Compensation Policy in the Australian Chamber. She has more than 20 years’ experience in WHS and workers’ compensation management, policy, advocacy and implementation. Ms Davis has held senior roles in major Australian companies and in academia as well as running her own consultancy for many years.

Mark Goodsell

Mr Mark Goodsell, Ai Group
Mr Goodsell is Director of the NSW branch of the Ai Group. Previously Mr Goodsell was an industrial relations adviser to industry. Mr Goodsell was the previous Chair of SIG-Workers’ Compensation.

Safe Work Australia Strategic Issues Groups

Safe Work Australia Members established strategic issues groups to progress WHS, workers’ compensation and explosives matters. These groups provide policy advice and recommendations to assist Safe Work Australia Members. Secretariat support for each Strategic Issue Group (SIG) is provided by the agency.

  • SIG-WHS assists Safe Work Australia in performing its statutory functions as outlined in the Act with regard to WHS matters.
  • SIG-Workers’ Compensation oversees work on the improvement of workers’ compensation arrangements.
  • SIG-Explosives assists in the development of a nationally consistent explosives framework.

Each SIG is tripartite and reflects Safe Work Australia membership.


The SIG-WHS met three times during 2015–16.

SIG-WHS members as at 30 June 2016

Name Membership
Mr Paul Goldsborough Chair
Mr Mark Burton Commonwealth
Ms Jodie Deakes New South Wales
Ms Maryanne Aynsley Victoria
Mr Bradley Bick Queensland
Mr Ian Munns Western Australia
Ms Marie Boland South Australia
Mr Mark Cocker Tasmania
Mr Stephen Gelding Northern Territory
Mr John Rees Australian Capital Territory
Mr Michael Borowick Australian Council of Trade Unions
Dr Deborah Vallance Australian Council of Trade Unions
Ms Carolyn Davis Australian Chamber
Ms Tracey Browne Ai Group
Ms Michelle Baxter Safe Work Australia

SIG-Workers’ Compensation

The SIG-Workers’ Compensation met three times during 2015–16.

SIG-Workers’ Compensation as at 30 June 2016

Name Membership
Mr Michael Young Chair
Mr Mark Roddam Commonwealth
Ms Gary Jeffrey Comcare
Ms Carmel Donnelly New South Wales
Mr Shane O'Dea Victoria
Mr Paul Goldsborough Queensland
Ms Michelle Reynolds Western Australia
Mr Greg McCarthy South Australia
Mr Brad Parker Tasmania
Mr Bevan Pratt Northern Territory
Mr Bill Smith Australian Capital Territory
Mr Chris Prast Australian Council of Trade Unions
Mr Dave Henry Australian Council of Trade Unions
Ms Craig Milton Australian Chamber
Ms Tracey Browne Ai Group
Ms Amanda Grey Safe Work Australia


The SIG-Explosives met six times during 2015–16.

SIG-Explosives members as at 30 June 2016

Name Membership
Ms Justine Ross Chair
Mr Mark Burton Commonwealth
Mr Tony Robinson New South Wales
Ms Angela Jolic Victoria
Mr Noel Erichsen Queensland
Mr Philip Hine Western Australia
Mr Stephen de Musso South Australia
Ms Wendy Clarkson Tasmania
Ms Melissa Garde Northern Territory
Mr John Rees Australian Capital Territory
Mr Jim Ward Australian Council of Trade Unions
Mr Keith Shaw Australian Council of Trade Unions
Ms Carolyn Davis Australian Chamber
Ms Tracey Browne Ai Group
Ms Michelle Baxter Safe Work Australia

Reference groups

In 2013 Safe Work Australia Members established three reference groups to share information between Safe Work Australia Member organisations and Safe Work Australia on specific topics. These are the:

  • Communication Reference Group
  • Research and Evaluation Reference Group, and
  • Data Reference Group.

The reference groups are tripartite and reflect Safe Work Australia membership.

Communication Reference Group

The Communication Reference Group (CRG) is made up of communication officers representing each Safe Work Australia Member. The group works to share information regarding communication activities, awareness raising campaigns and findings of communication research.

Safe Work Australia worked collaboratively with the CRG throughout 2015–16, including consulting with the group on the planning and delivery of activities to build awareness of National Safe Work Month, World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day and the Virtual Seminar Series. The agency also updates the group about new Safe Work Australia publications, factsheets and research so these can be distributed through their networks.

Research and Evaluation Reference Group

The Research and Evaluation Reference Group (RERG) comprises members with a sound understanding of policy, research or evaluation. The RERG also has representation from WorkSafe New Zealand. In 2015–16 RERG met four times and advised on the scope, content, methodology and reporting of research and evaluation projects, provided comment on draft research reports and contributed to the development of the new Evidence work plan. The RERG also separately provided input to the evaluation of the emerging issues pilot program.

Data Reference Group

The Data Reference Group held one teleconference in 2015–16 to discuss a range of topics including the formalisation of a data sharing agreement with the University of New South Wales, indicators used in the Comparative Performance Monitoring report and NDS data provision.

Other committees

The Chief Executive Officer of Safe Work Australia represents Safe Work Australia on the committees described in the table below.

Committee Description Representation
Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC) The SRCC is a statutory body with regulatory functions relating to Comcare and other authorities which determine workers’ compensation claims under the Commonwealth scheme. Commissioner
Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) HWSA is a group comprising representatives of the jurisdictional bodies responsible for the regulation and administration of workplace health and safety in Australia and New Zealand. HWSA mounts national compliance campaigns targeted at specific industries. These campaign initiatives facilitate the development of consistent approaches to nationally recognised priorities. Observer
Heads of Workers’ Compensation Authorities (HWCA) HWCA is a group comprising representatives of the jurisdictional bodies responsible for the regulation and administration of workers’ compensation in Australia and New Zealand. HWCA promotes and implements best practice in workers’ compensation arrangements in the areas of policy and legislative matters, regulation and scheme administration. Observer

Corporate governance

Corporate governance framework

Safe Work Australia’s corporate governance framework ensures Safe Work Australia provides strategic direction, achieves objectives, manages risks and uses resources responsibly and with accountability. The framework is reviewed annually to ensure new whole-of-government requirements are incorporated and to reflect any changes to governance arrangements within Safe Work Australia.

Legislative framework

Safe Work Australia ensures compliance with its statutory requirements through its corporate governance framework. This framework ensures that the statutory functions, duties and obligations provided for under the Act are discharged.

Leadership, ethics and culture

Safe Work Australia recognises leadership, culture and ethical behaviour are critical to implementing a strong corporate governance framework. These elements enable staff to:

  • understand their roles and responsibilities
  • continuously improve performance and minimise risks
  • enhance stakeholder and public confidence in Safe Work Australia, and
  • meet legal, ethical and public service obligations.

Risk management framework

Safe Work Australia’s risk management framework helps foster and promote a culture of identifying and mitigating risks at all levels within the organisation. The risk management framework includes a:

  • Risk Management Plan
  • Risk Management Toolkit including templates, and
  • Strategic Risk Assessment.

Safe Work Australia participates in Comcover’s Risk Management Benchmarking Survey each year. Outcomes from this survey are used as a guide when updating the risk management framework. The feedback received is a valuable tool used to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement in risk management processes.

Safe Work Australia is implementing an online risk management system that allows for accurate reporting both at the project level and an agency risk level. This system will be managed centrally and used for monitoring and reporting.

Business continuity management

Business continuity management (BCM) is a requirement under the Protective Security Policy Framework which is an essential part of the agency’s overall approach to effective risk management. BCM is the process which the agency must follow in the event of a disruption to its business. A key risk for the agency is being unable to remain operational in the event of a crisis or major disruption.

Safe Work Australia is reviewing its current policy and procedural arrangements in conjunction with the Shared Services Centre (SSC) and this may involve a move to a BCM program similar to the SSC to minimise duplication and ensure more efficient BCM and Disaster Recovery arrangements. This process commenced in 2015, following the agency’s move to the NISHI Building and will be completed in 2016.

Fraud control

Safe Work Australia complies with Section 10 of the PGPA Rule and the Australian Government Fraud Control Policy by minimising the incidence of fraud through the development, implementation and regular review of the Fraud Control Plan and fraud risks. This is undertaken in the context of Safe Work Australia’s overarching risk management framework.

Safe Work Australia provides annual mandatory fraud awareness training to all staff through an internal online system called LearnHub. Safe Work Australia continued to remind staff of their responsibility for the prevention and detection of fraud against the Commonwealth through this training and as part of the induction process for new starters. Safe Work Australia provided regular updates and advice to staff on developments in this area to ensure knowledge remained current.

No incidences of fraud were reported during 2015–16.

Certification of fraud control measures

In accordance with Section 10 of the PGPA Rule, I certify that Safe Work Australia has prepared a fraud risk assessment and fraud control plan and has in place appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures. Safe Work Australia has taken all reasonable measures to minimise the incidence of fraud and to investigate and recover the proceeds of fraud.

Michelle Baxter Chief Executive Officer

Freedom of Information

Safe Work Australia is covered by the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act) and is required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS). This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report. Safe Work Australia must display a plan on its website showing what information it publishes in accordance with the IPS. Safe Work Australia’s ‘IPS Agency Plan’ is available on its website.

Safe Work Australia received four requests under the FOI Act in 2015–16.

External accountability

Clear and consistent external reporting enables Safe Work Australia to directly address interests and concerns from other organisations. External conformance and accountability is acquitted through annual reports, Portfolio Budget Statements, Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements and Senate Estimates.

Safe Work Australia is accountable to:

  • Parliament
  • the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO)
  • the Department of Finance
  • the Department of Employment
  • the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and
  • the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC).

External audit

The ANAO provides external audit services for Safe Work Australia. The outcome of the 2015–16 financial statements audit is in Part 5 of this report. Safe Work Australia was not subject to any other ANAO audits during 2015–16.

Judicial decisions and decisions of administrative tribunals

No judicial decisions were made by courts or administrative tribunals, and no decisions were made by the Australian Information Commissioner, that affected the operations of Safe Work Australia in 2015–16.

Parliamentary committees

No adverse reports of Safe Work Australia’s operations were made in 2015–16 by the Auditor-General, a Parliamentary Committee or the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Internal accountability

To ensure internal conformance and accountability, Safe Work Australia has in place:

  • financial and human resource delegations
  • Accountable Authority Instructions, and
  • supporting policies, procedures and guidelines.

Audit Committee

The Safe Work Australia Audit Committee operates in accordance with the requirements of the PGPA Act and PGPA Rule 17 – Audit Committee for Commonwealth entities.

The Audit Committee provides independent assurance and assistance to the Chief Executive Officer on the integrity of Safe Work Australia’s:

  • financial data and processes
  • risks, controls and compliance framework, and
  • external accountability responsibilities.

The Audit Committee comprises three members— a representative from Safe Work Australia and two independent members. The members as at 30 June 2016 were:

  • Ms Julia Collins, Chair
  • Mr Alfred Bongi, and
  • Mr Dermot Walsh.

The Audit Committee met four times during 2015–16, including a September 2016 meeting at which it endorsed Safe Work Australia’s 2015–16 Financial Statements.

A number of observers including Safe Work Australia’s Chief Financial Officer, representatives from the internal audit provider and the ANAO regularly attend these meetings.

Internal audit

The internal audit program provides assurance to the Audit Committee and the Chief Executive Officer to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the policies and procedures of Safe Work Australia.

The internal audit function is provided by RSM Australia Partners.

Public interest disclosure

In accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (Cwlth), Safe Work Australia has established effective and clearly articulated internal procedures for facilitating and responding to public interest disclosures. These procedures are published on the Safe Work Australia website. Safe Work Australia did not receive any disclosures in 2015–16.

A farewell to one Chair, and a warm welcome to another

In February 2016, Safe Work Australia farewelled Ms Ann Sherry AO after three years as the Chair of Safe Work Australia. Ms Sherry was appointed as Chair of Safe Work Australia in February 2013 and during her tenure chaired over 20 meetings of Safe Work Australia Members.

Ms Sherry’s tenure commenced at the time of the implementation of the model WHS laws around Australia and a broadening of Safe Work Australia’s focus beyond the development of the model WHS laws. Ms Sherry showed strong leadership and a collaborative approach to help Safe Work Australia develop national policy to drive real improvements in workplace safety performance across Australia.

The first Virtual Seminar Series was held while Ms Sherry was Chair and her strong support and participation in the series in 2014 and 2015 were the key drivers in its take up by Safe Work Australia Members. Ms Sherry participated in seven videos and two live broadcasts, which combined have been viewed over 6,000 times.

During 2015, Ms Sherry was awarded the overall winner of the Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards which demonstrated the breadth of her experience and ability. Safe Work Australia has certainly benefited from this experience during her time as Chair.

In saying farewell to Ms Sherry, in February 2016 Safe Work Australia welcomed Ms Diane Smith-Gander as Safe Work Australia’s fourth Chair. Her interest in WHS issues arose as a child when her father was injured in a workplace incident. This experience inspired her lifelong belief in a worker’s right to a safe and healthy workplace, a conviction she brings to her role as Safe Work Australia Chair.

Ms Smith-Gander also brings to the role an extensive background in high-level executive positions. She is Chairman of Broadspectrum Limited, non-executive director of Wesfarmers Limited, a CEDA board member and President of Chief Executive Women. She has held senior roles with Westpac Banking Corporation and McKinsey & Company. Ms Smith-Gander has also held numerous positions with government boards, such as Deputy Chairperson of NBNCo and Tourism WA.

Ms Smith-Gander has quickly acquainted herself with national WHS and workers’ compensation policy and is leading strongly Safe Work Australia Members and the agency to deliver their strategic objectives of improving WHS and workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia.


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