26 September 2023

Comcare to create new mental health team

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Comcare is to establish a new psychosocial inspectorate team to focus on proactively supporting the management of workplace psychosocial risks.

Announced with the release of Comcare’s Work Health & Safety Year in Review 2021 Report, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Comcare, Sue Weston said the new team would consist of specialist members and consolidate and expand on Comcare’s initiatives to help employers and workers deal with psychological risks and hazards in the workplace.

“The new team will focus on proactively supporting the jurisdiction with managing and responding to issues including bullying, harassment and sexual harassment, along with conducting psychosocial inspections and investigations,” Ms Weston said.

She said the Year in Review Report detailed Comcare’s compliance and enforcement activities that promoted and enabled safe and healthy work across the Commonwealth jurisdiction.

“Psychosocial work health and safety (WHS) risks beyond the pandemic environment were a significant focus for Comcare in 2021,” Ms Weston said.

“This reflects the pattern of increased numbers of mental health claims and the anticipated amendments to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) following the Boland review of the Model WHS Laws.”

She said Comcare had also established a specialist inspectorate team to focus on WHS risks at major infrastructure projects across Australia.

The CEO said there were already a number of major road and rail projects underway within Comcare’s jurisdiction, such as underground rail infrastructure in Melbourne and Sydney.

“The pandemic continues to present regulatory challenges, with a constantly evolving landscape where national employers are required to monitor public health advice in each State and Territory daily to stay on top of COVID-19 risks.”

She said 13 per cent of all notifiable incidents during the reporting period were COVID-19 related.

“Our ongoing enforcement work resulted in important outcomes in 2021 including a $1.5 million enforceable undertaking that will deliver major health and safety improvements at CSIRO’s laboratories, and a $1 million penalty against the Department of Defence over a fatality – the largest penalty recorded under the Commonwealth WHS Act,” Ms Weston said.

Comcare’s seven-page Year in Review Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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