The meeting was held in Melbourne to discuss workplace health and safety issues with Workplace Relations minister Bill Shorten MP, representatives from Safe Work Australia and; the Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations. Also included were a diverse group of representatives from various not-for-profit organisations.
An important revelation from the meeting is the plan to establish a group to oversee measures to cut red tape of working with volunteers. The plan is to have a group comprised of representatives from the not-for-profit sector, Volunteering Australia, Safe Work Australia, legal experts and various other industry representatives.
To add to these outcomes, the table of representatives discussed and agreed on various matters pertaining to volunteers, such as;
- Safety is of equal importance for volunteers as any other individual since everyone has a right to return home safe.
- A volunteer’s duty has gone relatively unchanged when comparing it to what it was prior to the OHS Harmonisation laws.
- The penalties that would be used for extreme actions are based on already established state laws that existed prior to harmonisation.
- Ongoing efforts to provide increased clarity of the harmonised law’s limited practical consequences for grassroots volunteers are most welcome.
Shorten stated that the Government encourages people to volunteer and support each other’s community. He alleges that the Government will provide “even more clear information and guidance to volunteers who play such an important role in [everyone’s] communities”
ComOps, a business solutions company, have published a press release regarding the expectations of business owners over the Work Health and Safety Act or OHS Harmonisation laws. The survey indicated that Australian managers are strongly convinced that the OHS harmonisation would positively impact operational sustainability and the organization at large. 87 percent of all managers believe the OHS Harmonisation laws would be a positive influence on business;, 68 percent of participants have indicated that the OHS harmonisation would finally achieve a true harmonisation of the WHS laws governing Australia. Three-fifths of the participants have also expressed support for the personal liability provisions.
Propose of Harmonisation
The OHS Harmonisation was developed in order to lower the potential for risks while at the same time increase accountability and visibility into workplace safety practices within businesses. A key aspect to the laws is to put into effect a legislation that would improve the quality of; transparency, communication, and reporting for each business. Business owners, executives and other managers will find their job obligations to be more concise, yet clearly defined.
The survey also provided information indicating that almost three-quarters of those surveyed, believed that creating the right culture in the business is of most importance. 68 percent of participants have already prepared their practices and systems well in time for the new legislation to commence.
However, 18 percent of participants stated their need for half a year or a whole year in order to achieve the necessary requirements under the OHS Harmonisation laws.
The survey was conducted at the Safety Show Sydney 2011 with the involvement of 218 professionals.More than a quarter of the participants represented organisations that employee over 1000 workers.