WHS consultation

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Welcome to the Work Health and Safety (WHS) consultation page.

This is where all consultation on matters relating to the department’s workplace health and safety arrangements will take place.

Everything you need to get involved in consultation is right here, making it quicker and easier to have your say.

We are committed to consulting with you and meeting our obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011.

This is your chance to have your say.

Subscribe to this page using the 'Stay informed' icon to keep up-to-date with progress updates and new consultations.


Welcome to the Work Health and Safety (WHS) consultation page.

This is where all consultation on matters relating to the department’s workplace health and safety arrangements will take place.

Everything you need to get involved in consultation is right here, making it quicker and easier to have your say.

We are committed to consulting with you and meeting our obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011.

This is your chance to have your say.

Subscribe to this page using the 'Stay informed' icon to keep up-to-date with progress updates and new consultations.


  • Health and Safety Management Arrangements post-implementation review stage one feedback

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    almost 2 years ago

    The Health and Safety Management Arrangements post-implementation review is seeking feedback in a staged approach. Below is the feedback received in the first stage of the consultation process from Stream and People Place Committee chairs, the CPSU, WHS Advisors and Health and Safety Representatives.

    The feedback below reflects the candid responses received, and includes direct quotes. All responses have been de-identified.


    The Health and Safety Management Arrangements post-implementation review is seeking feedback in a staged approach. Below is the feedback received in the first stage of the consultation process from Stream and People Place Committee chairs, the CPSU, WHS Advisors and Health and Safety Representatives.

    The feedback below reflects the candid responses received, and includes direct quotes. All responses have been de-identified.


  • Summary of stage one feedback

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    almost 2 years ago

    The feedback received so far has highlighted some common themes which need to be addressed in the review, but overall the message is that the current arrangements require adjusting rather than a wholesale review. The common themes can summed up as follows:

    • The National Work Health and Safety Forum purpose needs to be reviewed and should be a decision making forum.

    • The workgroup structure is sound however it requires some adjustment in particular areas to meet the needs of some work areas.

    • The meeting structure needs to be simplified.

    • Meeting terms of reference, and other supporting...

    The feedback received so far has highlighted some common themes which need to be addressed in the review, but overall the message is that the current arrangements require adjusting rather than a wholesale review. The common themes can summed up as follows:

    • The National Work Health and Safety Forum purpose needs to be reviewed and should be a decision making forum.

    • The workgroup structure is sound however it requires some adjustment in particular areas to meet the needs of some work areas.

    • The meeting structure needs to be simplified.

    • Meeting terms of reference, and other supporting documentation need to be reviewed.

    • People/Place issues are being addressed effectively by Property.

    • There needs to be flexibility in the way workgroup issues can be raised to Stream Committees. A one-size-fits-all approach to workgroup meetings does not suit all areas of the department.

    • CPSU representation at meetings requires clarification/consultation.

    • It needs to be easier for Health and Safety Representatives to attend meetings to allow adequate representation.


  • Committees – including structure, participation and Terms of Reference

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    almost 2 years ago

    • Overall I find the structure easy to work within. It is still difficult to attract a full complement of nominees to fill the HSR positions in the WG but I don’t believe that is due to the structure. There might be some benefit in more promotion of the role of HSR. Likewise it is sometimes difficult to get sufficient HSR representation at both the stream and the P&P meeting.

    • ToR are easy to follow.

    • CPSU would like to attend local committee meetings.

    • Meetings have been irregular during the imbedding of the new arrangements.

    • The CPSU...

    • Overall I find the structure easy to work within. It is still difficult to attract a full complement of nominees to fill the HSR positions in the WG but I don’t believe that is due to the structure. There might be some benefit in more promotion of the role of HSR. Likewise it is sometimes difficult to get sufficient HSR representation at both the stream and the P&P meeting.

    • ToR are easy to follow.

    • CPSU would like to attend local committee meetings.

    • Meetings have been irregular during the imbedding of the new arrangements.

    • The CPSU recommends that any worker who is appointed to act as returning officer in HSR elections is provided with the appropriate training so that they are able to comply with the election process.

    • National forum is Canberra centric.

    • ISG meetings should be more team and location based – e.g. one in each regional port and 1 for each individual team (IFIP, CARGO, Plant etc.).

    • I believe the National Forum should be renamed the national WHS Committee and should be a decision-making forum. A management and worker representative (HSR) from each stream should attend plus a HSR from each People and Place/regional area.

    • In SA the SA People and Place Committee is operating quite effectively. However, this is because of the smaller FaBs and Property management profile in Adelaide that means the forum is being used for these property/building purposes that could/should be dealt with in another forum. Officers in national programs (e.g. NMCC) also use the forum to raise WHS matters that would be stream-based if there was a stream for them.

    • The last two Audit Services stream Committee meetings have been postponed. The first of these two due to a lack of a quorum, the latest due to no issues being raised by Committee members prior to meeting. Consequent to the last meeting one HSR in WA raised a variety of issues, most of which should be addressed through the normal chain of management…not through the committee.

    • The National Forum seems pointless, it’s a talkfest. Few issues get escalated for discussion and not having it as a decision making forum means few HSRs or managers (and me) are interested in attending – they don’t see it as relevant or important.

    • The People and Place committee doesn’t work in South East. The scope is very narrow and the vast majority of issues are actually addressed through Stream committees. It is the Stream committees where higher risk issues are addressed but this has led to a fragmented Regional structure where information is not shared in People and Place because ‘Operations’ are outside of the scope. Operations are now discussed in Stream silos and not between regional workers. P&P needs to be re-tasked, it should be held only once all Stream meetings are finished and then the managers and HSRs come together to share the most relevant points on common hazards.

    • The ACQ Stream committee has relevance and the structure is evolving to better discuss topics. Engagement of HSRs remains a problem, my view is that various managers may not actually understand the role of a HSR and fail to productively engage them in the workplace. Clearer direction may be needed from the Stream lead or Department to ensure that HSRs are enabled/made to attend. Line managers must take more ownership in developing and promoting a healthy workplace, too much reliance is placed on WHS advisors to develop all of the ways to improve, this need to be more clearly written into the documentation.

    • Work Health and Safety Forum (NWHSF). It is difficult to ensure there are at least equal numbers of HSR’s, and Management Reps for this committee and as it is not a decision making committee I question its value.

    • Also the locations/Streams are asked to supply agenda items – in most cases before they have held their P&P or Stream Meetings – so the NWHSF is not following its own TOR in regard to seeking and including items for the agenda. Twice I have sought to put items on the agenda – without success I think this committee has a place in our consultative network – with Unions/Management/Employees/HSR’s at purely a department level and as an information dissemination and gathering WHS forum. Perhaps six monthly also.

    • I also am not in favour of formally inviting the Unions to have a permanent position on either our work group or stream committees. I understand they sit on the LCC committee’s in each location and at the national CC – also they are involved in the NWHSF.

    • We do not believe that formal workplace consultation takes place through the department’s Forum, Stream/Safety Committees, HSR’s or Work Groups as when the WHS team request distribution lists they cannot be provided. This become apparent when conducting Health and Safety Representatives nomination and election processes. To date this task has still not been addressed.

    • ToR’s for WG and Stream state to conduct their meetings two prior to the National Forum, however the National Forum calls for agenda items one month prior to the meeting – leaving no opportunity to raise items from either WG or Stream meeting unless under other business. Should there be a standard agenda item on the National Forum to counter act this? Or should the Stream just mention this at the National Forum for information to be collated in the minutes for consultation.

    • The WHS People and Place Committee and the monthly property/facility meeting should be combined as they discuss the same matters. (Quarterly every third month).

    • Proxies – this should also apply to the Chair of the Forum, Committee, Work Group etc.

    • The secretariat support plays a key role for consultation – as this role differs within the ToR’s for each Forum, Committee and Workgroup – consultation is not consistent and this tasks often falls back to the WHS Teams with no distribution list.

    • Currently not all workers have access to WHS Committee minutes. I think it is critical that meeting minutes be published on mylink (similar to the National Forum).

    • I do not believe there is benefit in having the National Forum meet quarterly. The purpose of the forum should really be to address/discuss issues that remain unresolved at the WG/People Place/Stream committees and to date, there have been no issues. I think it is best that the National Forum meets only when there is a WHS matter which cannot be resolved at the lower level and that the National Forum has decision making capability (to resolve the WHS matter). The membership of this Forum should be limited to the AS from VEMS, SSG, ISG, ACQ, CSGD, Director WHS and a HSR from each of those streams as well as a HSR from NAQS, PEQ, AuSG and the Integrated Operations and Other stream.

    • The regional (state based) people & place meetings seem to be for raising property issues, and I don’t believe they are required. The property team has a monthly meeting, perhaps key stakeholders from each stream could be invited to this monthly property meeting?

    • Streams could have a national stream meeting (similar to what other WHS Advisor’s stated currently occurs) instead of small local meetings. I have found that majority of the WHS issues raised at the local regional meeting are then raised by other regions at the national stream meeting, resulting in duplication of action items and work.

    • The NWHSF needs to be an escalation point to make decisions on items that could not be solved at the other meetings.

    • I don’t believe the union should attend any of the meetings except the NWHSF, as I am not sure what benefit this will have. The union currently has other consultative arrangements in place with the department such as a Local Consultative Committee (LCC), and if any WHS issues are identified they are then action items from this meeting.


  • Workgroup structure – HSRs

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    almost 2 years ago

    • Include cleaners/security/contractors in workgroups for issues relevant to their work within the department.

    • Not all locations have an HSR physically present on site due to the workgroup structure being spread over large geographical areas.

    • Many workers are unaware of who are the elected HSRs for their workgroup.

    • Many workers do not know how to find out who are their elected HSRs.

    • Workers who do not have an HSR at their work location are unsure how they can access their elected HSRs to discuss WHS matters.

    • They have been working fine in the north and the wording and structure seems fine.

    • ...

    • Include cleaners/security/contractors in workgroups for issues relevant to their work within the department.

    • Not all locations have an HSR physically present on site due to the workgroup structure being spread over large geographical areas.

    • Many workers are unaware of who are the elected HSRs for their workgroup.

    • Many workers do not know how to find out who are their elected HSRs.

    • Workers who do not have an HSR at their work location are unsure how they can access their elected HSRs to discuss WHS matters.

    • They have been working fine in the north and the wording and structure seems fine.

    • VEMS North and South not needed – everything covered in these is repeated in national VEMS.

    • Work Groupmeetings werenever a traditional, feature of SE Regional WHS management. Instead there has been location-based airport WHS Committee, a Ports WHS Committee and a joint committee (with Customs & Australia Post) at the mail centre. Mail Centre and Melbourne Airport WHS Committees are still in place with DAWR representation…this diminishes the need for an ISG work group committee as most issues are addressed via this forum. There is only one functioning Work Group committee in SE in the ISG stream. It struggles to reach a quorum.

    • National officers in South and South East regions. These officers, in considerable numbers in regional offices, are effectively unrepresented via current arrangements. They usually raise WHS issues via Canberra. This is a reasonable outcome but doesn’t fit with the governance structure as we might explain it to others.

    • There is a lot of goodwill toward achieving positive WHS outcomes in management, among HSRs and involved unions. We need to maintain this by having an effective governance structure that reflects the needs and responsibilities of all parties.

    • Work Groups. For the ACQ stream the WG structure is a fail. Given the geographic spread, the ACQ stream does not have the numbers to support holding WG meetings and I have not raised these meeting with the Stream lead. Instead, the committee has confirmed that each section holds monthly team meetings and that each team meeting has WHS as a standing agenda item. Each team has a HSR to consult as a representative. A new WG guideline is needed that allows for the WG structure to vary depending on the Stream that it supports. For ISG I imagine that the current WG structure works well – high number of HSRs and lots of workers.

    • I think the current work groups should remain but perhaps be granted to have the freedom of either meeting as a work group or as part of a people/place or stream (decided in consultation with the HSRs).

    • The Stream consultation structure works well – from the WHS Work Groups through to the Stream meeting every quarter, (at least for the ISG Stream – obviously there are larger numbers involved).


  • Health and Safety Representative election process

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    almost 2 years ago

    • The CPSU would also recommended that there be an amendment to: Withdrawal of Candidate after an election has been completed in the Health and Safety Representative Election Process.

    • There should be a timeframe limit as to when the returning officer can declare the next candidate with enough votes to be elected. The wording of this section isn’t clear as to when this process is to be followed. The CPSU recommends that it be made clear that this process is to be followed in the immediate aftermath of an election, not months after the election. In such an instance a fresh...

    • The CPSU would also recommended that there be an amendment to: Withdrawal of Candidate after an election has been completed in the Health and Safety Representative Election Process.

    • There should be a timeframe limit as to when the returning officer can declare the next candidate with enough votes to be elected. The wording of this section isn’t clear as to when this process is to be followed. The CPSU recommends that it be made clear that this process is to be followed in the immediate aftermath of an election, not months after the election. In such an instance a fresh election should be conducted.


  • Reporting

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    almost 2 years ago

    • Have no objections to the arrangements per se however, we need to bed down reporting which needs to be supported by meaningful analysis.

    • The support from HR is good. The timeliness of reports is appropriate.

    • Reporting. Monthly reporting is challenging and for smaller less hazardous streams, a waste of time because there is insufficient data to be meaningful. A smaller stream such as audits should be viewing the reports of those doing similar work in similar locations (but doing the more hazardous tasks) such as ISG and ACQ. This way an audit can be across the hazards faced by their...

    • Have no objections to the arrangements per se however, we need to bed down reporting which needs to be supported by meaningful analysis.

    • The support from HR is good. The timeliness of reports is appropriate.

    • Reporting. Monthly reporting is challenging and for smaller less hazardous streams, a waste of time because there is insufficient data to be meaningful. A smaller stream such as audits should be viewing the reports of those doing similar work in similar locations (but doing the more hazardous tasks) such as ISG and ACQ. This way an audit can be across the hazards faced by their own workers without having to ‘discover’ the hazards themselves. Regionally, this was previously addressed by a whole ‘Regional WHS Committee meeting’ where HSRs from all WG’s came together to report and share information. I know we are progressing already to Stream Leads having WHS dashboard access and a quarterly report and I believe this is will improve the quality of the content.


  • Other feedback

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    almost 2 years ago

    • I suggest that divisions:

      • Do more to recognise their HSRs and their essential role

      • Monitor the hours their HSRs spend on their functions as set out in the HSMAs and the WHS legislation

      • Plan and resource to enable HSRs to conduct their role

      • Implement performance indicators which enable the division/branch to verify that they are meeting the objectives of the HSMAs

      • Report to their divisional meetings.


    • I suggest that divisions:

      • Do more to recognise their HSRs and their essential role

      • Monitor the hours their HSRs spend on their functions as set out in the HSMAs and the WHS legislation

      • Plan and resource to enable HSRs to conduct their role

      • Implement performance indicators which enable the division/branch to verify that they are meeting the objectives of the HSMAs

      • Report to their divisional meetings.