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At a glance

About us

Safe Work Australia is a statutory agency established under the Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Cth), and a non-corporate entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) (PGPA Act).

Safe Work Australia is within the portfolio of the Attorney-General’s Department and reports to the Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon Christian Porter MP.

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.

Information about Safe Work Australia Members is in Part 2—Our Minister and Members.

Our Members are supported by around 100 Australian Public Service (APS) employees.

Information about the agency can be found in Part 5—Our organisation.

Our office is located at level 7, Nishi Building, 2 Phillip Law Street, Canberra ACT.


In 2018–19, the agency received $20.590 million in funding. We are jointly funded by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments through an inter-governmental agreement.

Our vision

Healthy, safe and productive working lives.

All workers regardless of their occupation or how they are engaged have the right to a healthy and safe working environment. We believe the effective design of work and work systems, and the systematic management of risks, will allow workers to lead productive working lives.

Our objective

To achieve our vision we work in partnership with the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, employer and worker representatives to:

  • monitor and improve Australia’s model work health and safety (WHS) legislative framework
  • lead national policy development on WHS and workers’ compensation matters
  • collect, analyse and share WHS and workers’ compensation data and research
  • provide guidance to manage WHS risks, and
  • support the implementation of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 (the Australian Strategy).

Our performance

We perform our functions in accordance with our corporate and operational plans, which are agreed annually by WHS ministers. Our performance against these targets is described in the Annual Performance Statement.

Why our work is important

In 2018, 144 workers were killed at work and each year over 100,000 are compensated for a serious work-related injury or illness. Work-related fatalities, injury and illness have a devastating impact on workers, their families and the community. Not only do work-related injuries and illness cause physical, mental and emotional distress, they impose a significant cost on the Australian economy.

Safe Work Australia is committed to developing policy aimed at reducing the incidence of work-related death, injury, illness, and exposure to hazards and risks in the workplace. We know our work is having an impact, as Australia continues to experience a decrease in work-related injuries and fatalities. In the past decade we have seen work-related fatality rates drop by over 50 per cent.

Through our analysis of data and research we are gaining better insights into future WHS and workers’ compensation challenges. The changing nature of work and workplaces, the shift in workforce demographics and the evolution of new technologies present new risks, but also provide us with new opportunities to influence WHS in a changing world.

We work closely with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, unions, industry, business, employer and worker groups, educators, academics and international organisations. Information about our stakeholders is in Stakeholders.

As a national policy body, we do not regulate WHS laws or administer workers’ compensation arrangements. The Commonwealth, states and territories have responsibility for regulating and enforcing WHS laws and administering workers’ compensation schemes in their respective jurisdictions.

Community impact - snapshot 2018–19

Our model WHS Act and Regulations

  • provide a fair, balanced and consistent focus on the health and safety of workers
  • help reduce compliance costs for Australian business, and
  • improve regulatory efficiency.

Our model Codes of Practice and guidance materials

  • provide practical guidance on how to comply with WHS laws
  • provide effective ways to identify and manage risks, and
  • help those who have a duty under the law understand their responsibilities and how these responsibilities can be met.

Our national data and research

  • provide a reliable evidence base to informWHSand workers’ compensation policy and practice
  • create a national picture of work-related injuries, fatalities and diseases, and
  • help to identify emerging work-related issues.

Our national education and awareness campaigns

  • help draw attention to health and safety issues in the workplace
  • provide a range of resources, campaign materials and ideas to help organisations plan activities in their workplace, and
  • empower workers to speak up about health and safety in their workplaces.

Our Virtual Seminar Series broadcasts

  • provide an opportunity to explore complex and challenging topics
  • challenge contemporary thinking, and
  • invite leading experts to debate alternative views about WHS issues publicly.

What we achieved - snapshot 2018–19

Infographic summary of what SWA achieved 2018-19. Working Safely in Australia information sheet translated into 21 languages. 9 Safe Work Australia Members and Strategic Issue Groups meetings held. 7 online WHS discussion forums. 13 model Codes of Practice reviewed, varied and published. 29 videos, infographics and panel discussions broadcast. 74 new publications (guides, reports, varied model Codes of Practice and research) produced and published. WHS ministers agreed to consider implementing national explosives reforms in their jurisdictions. National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030 endorsed. Independent Review of the model WHS laws completed Draft workplace exposure standards for Respirable coal dust and Respirable crystalline silica released for public comment. Consultation regulation impact statement for the Review of the model WHS laws released. New Zealand and Taiwanese delegations welcomed in Australia.

Progress on our key projects - snapshot 2018–19

Progress on our key projects summary 2018-19. National Return to Work Strategy 2020-2030 2018, Development of the Strategy, complete 2019, Members and WHS ministers endorse the Strategy, Strategy launched, on track 2020, Strategy commences 2025, Mid-term review 2030, Full-term review Review of the model WHS laws August 2017, WHS Ministers agree to terms of reference, complete November 2017, Marie Boland selected to conduct the review, complete February – May 2018, Stakeholder consultation, complete December 2018, Review findings presented to SWA members, complete 2019, Recommendations presented to WHS Ministers, on track Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 October 2012, Australian Strategy launched Yearly (first five years), Progress against the Australian Strategy reported to SWA Members March – May 2017, Public consultation for the mid-term review of the Australian Strategy August 2017, Mid-term review presented to SWA Members October 2017, Findings from the mid-term review published April 2018, The Australian Strategy amended and re-published, on track Yearly (last five years), Progress against the Australian Strategy reported to SWA Members 2022, Completion of the Australian Strategy 2023, Final review of the Australian Strategy Review of the Workplace Exposure Standards June 2018, Methodology published, completed July – August 2018, Open tender for evaluation of workplace exposure standards, completed November 2018, Evaluations commenced, completed February 2019 – April 2020, Public comment, on track June 2020, Final, revised workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants

Digital reach - snapshot 2018–19

Infographic summary of SWA's digital reach 2018-19. 8.1m webpage views. Increase 21.8% from 2017–18. 20.8k visitors to our new online media centre since its September 2018 launch. 18k Facebook followers. Increase 18.1% from 2017–18. 23k visits to our community engagement platform, Engage. Increase 130% from 2017–18. 2,702 Twitter followers. Increase 19.8% from 2017–18. 17.2k listens to our podcasts 17% increase from 2017–18. 15.1k LinkedIn followers. Increase 72.2% from 2017–18. 2,751 new email subscribers, 24.1k total subscribers. 83k views of our YouTube channel. Increase 45.1% from 2017–18. 500 data requests responded to. Over 2,000 enquiries from the general public responded to.

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