Occupational Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Committee: Annual Report 2015-16

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 16:31 ): I move: 

That the Annual Report 2015-16 of the committee be noted. 

I am pleased to present the 10th annual report of the Parliamentary Committee on Occupational Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation. The 2015-16 Annual Report reflects another busy year for the committee and the commitment of members who have many other commitments and responsibilities. 

The committee's primary function is to keep the administration and operation of the legislation affecting occupational health and safety, rehabilitation and compensation under continuous review. This is an important function and one that the committee takes seriously. During the 2015-16 reporting period, the committee continued its inquiry into work-related mental health and suicide prevention. This inquiry is important in that it reflects the increased community focus on mental health issues and the role that everyone plays in preventing mental harm and suicide. 

Under the Work Health and Safety Act, a person conducting a business or undertaking has a duty of care to ensure the psychological as well as physical health and wellbeing of workers. The previous occupational health, safety and welfare act focused only on physical health and wellbeing. Whilst the inclusion of psychological health in the Work Health and Safety Act is relatively new, many organisations are doing good work in this area, but there is still a lot of work to be done. 

Those at greatest risk of suicide are men of working age, but women record higher levels of attempted suicide. The World Health Organisation reports that depression is one of the major reasons for disability and estimates that it will be the number one health concern in developed nations by 2030. Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental disorders and are very treatable but, if left untreated, can lead to increased risk of suicide which is currently at more than twice the road fatality rate. 

The inquiry into work-related mental health and suicide prevention has provided the committee with an important opportunity to hear from a range of individuals and organisations that are making a difference, but there is still much more to be done to encourage men to seek help when they are doing it tough. Apparently, men are not as socially engaged as women and it will take a lot of work and a long time to change their attitudes, which have evolved from many generations of learned behaviour and led to their belief that, 'Men don't cry.' 

The committee has also been inquiring into the Work Health and Safety (Industrial Manslaughter) Amendment Bill which was referred to the committee following a motion of the Hon. Tammy Franks who, along with myself, is concerned about the apparently increasing work fatality rate. The committee agrees that there is always a need to focus on improving safety, particularly as technology changes, as young people enter unfamiliar workplaces and as older people work longer. All of these things challenge businesses to stay informed and ensure they are doing their best to make sure their workers go home at the end of each day without injury or illness. 

Data on workplace fatalities now includes road traffic fatalities and bystanders who were killed as a direct result of a work activity, which can give the appearance that fatalities are increasing. Men who are more likely to be employed in dangerous industries are at greater risk of being fatally injured at work. High-risk industries such as transport, warehousing and agriculture, forestry and fishing are largely male-dominated and therefore reflect the higher male fatality rate. SafeWork SA places a high focus on monitoring these industries to ensure compliance with the Work Health and Safety Act and subordinate legislation. The committee's report into this proposed bill will soon be finalised and released shortly. 

As well as undertaking these two major inquiries, the committee undertook two field trips during the reporting period. In October 2015, the committee took a field trip to the Hillgrove Resources copper mine and Kanmantoo Bluestone quarry, which are both located about 55 kilometres from the CBD. These businesses are quite different. Hillgrove Resources copper mine is an open-cut mine employing over 190 people and many contractors. It has a high focus on safety and works closely with the Kanmantoo community on issues relating to dust, noise, lighting and environmental rehabilitation.

Kanmantoo Bluestone quarry is a small, family-owned business with historical significance that provides slate and aggregates as well as crushed rock for road bases. These visits were facilitated by the Mining and Quarrying Occupational Health and Safety Committee and SafeWork SA. The committee is very appreciative of their assistance and advice in arranging the visit, which was very informative. 

In November 2015, the committee visited the Riverland for two days, during which time we visited Accolade Wines (Berri Estates), Almondco and CostaExchange as well as the Berri hospital. It is a very frightening experience to climb up onto the top of the very tall wine vats at Berri Estates but, once up on top, the view is spectacular and you can see the vastness of the enterprise, which is impressive. The committee also took the opportunity to visit the SafeWork SA office in Berri to learn about their education and enforcement programs within the region. 

It was a privilege for the committee to visit the Riverland region and the Kanmantoo mining region. Both of these field trips provided the committee with an opportunity to learn about the businesses and challenges they face, and to hear about how those challenges are being addressed. These visits followed on from the committee's inaugural trip to the beautiful Barossa Valley the previous year where we were hosted by the member for Schubert in the other place and the member for Fisher, and undertook three site visits. 

In 2017, the committee plans to undertake more regional visits and, in particular, will visit Whyalla and Roxby Downs as part of the inquiry into the Return to Work Act and scheme, which was also a referral from the Hon. Tammy Franks. We will be talking to the member for Giles for assistance in planning these visits. As a result of the increased workload the committee has been experiencing, we will shortly be engaging a research officer to assist the very busy executive officer. 

I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of those people who have contributed to the inquiries undertaken by the committee. I thank all of those people who took the time and made the effort to prepare submissions for the committee and to speak to the committee. I would also like to thank the businesses in the Riverland and Kanmantoo who were so welcoming and provided a valuable insight into the work and life of their unique regions. 

I would like to thank the presiding member, the Hon. Steph Key, from the other place, for her excellent chairmanship of the committee, and I extend my sincere thanks to other members of the committee: the member for Schubert, the member for Fisher, from the other place, the Hon. Gerry Kandelaars and the Hon. John Dawkins. My thanks also go to the committee's executive officer, Sue Sedivy. 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 16:39 ): I rise to briefly endorse the remarks of the Hon. John Darley, and note that he has highlighted the work of the committee, particularly over the several important inquiries. Of course, there will be further reports to be brought forward to this council in the very near future, and I look forward to that, particularly the results of the inquiry into work-related mental health and suicide prevention, which has been a significant work, and one that I have found valuable, and I think other members of the committee have certainly found valuable, and I hope that the broader community in this council will find very helpful. 

I also acknowledge the coverage that the Hon. Mr Darley has given to the regional visits that the committee has undertaken, and also flagging the ones that we are keen to do in the near future. I thank all of the members of the committee. I particularly thank the Hon. Steph Key for her leadership of what has become, probably, one of the most active committees in the parliament. 

That is reflected by the Hon. John Darley's indication that we are looking for an additional staff member, which is a great progression from the days when the committee was very much serviced by a part-time member of other parliamentary staff, and, at one stage, under the chairmanship of the now treasurer, I think the committee actually failed to meet for a very long period of time. I would pay tribute also to Ms Sue Sedivy, who is the only staff member of the committee at present, and we certainly look forward to her having some assistance in that role in the near future. With those words, I commend the report to the council. 

Motion carried.