18 October 2023

New SafeWork NSW head appointed as regulator releases first workplace sexual harassment strategy

| Travis Radford
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Trent Curtin.

SafeWork NSW acting deputy secretary Trent Curtin (right) joins the regulator from Fire and Rescue NSW. Pictured left is NSW building commissioner David Chandler. Photo: Trent Curtin.

Trent Curtin has been appointed acting deputy secretary of SafeWork NSW the same month as the workplace health and safety regulator released its first workplace sexual harassment strategy.

The NSW Government said Mr Curtin was appointed to beef up compliance and lead the regulator’s transformation following an ongoing independent review into its operation by Robert McDougall KC.

“Trent Curtin has played a vital role in the protection of communities through a number of crisis events, including several major bushfires. I would like to welcome him to this role,” NSW Work Health and Safety Minister Sophie Cotsis said.

“His extensive knowledge and experience will prove critical working together with our stakeholders when we take action to implement the findings of the McDougall review.”

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Mr Curtin joins SafeWork NSW from Fire and Rescue NSW where he recently served as the acting deputy commissioner and as the national spokesperson on fire safety regulation and compliance.

“This is an exciting time for SafeWork NSW,” he said. “I am looking forward to continuing to serve the community and to establishing SafeWork NSW as a strong work health and safety regulator.

“I’m thrilled to be joining a team of passionate professionals committed to reducing work-related fatalities, serious injuries and illnesses, and who are making it easier to do business safely in NSW.”

He was appointed the same month as SafeWork NSW launched a four-year strategy to support NSW businesses in preventing sexual harassment and other gender-based harmful workplace behaviours.

“Workplace sexual harassment is unacceptably common with one in three Australians in the past five years reporting experiencing it and affecting 41 per cent of women,” Mr Curtin said.

“Everyone deserves to have a workplace which is free from bullying, harassment and all forms of discrimination. Through this strategy, SafeWork NSW will help equip NSW businesses to create safer and respectful workplaces.”

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A new dedicated team focussed on addressing gender-based harmful workplace behaviours, the SafeWork NSW Respect at Work Taskforce will lead the implementation of the strategy.

This includes educating NSW businesses on their duties to prevent and respond to workplace sexual harassment before it occurs and take appropriate enforcement action to protect workers.

The release of the strategy coincided with the launch of a new NSW Government web page with resources for workers and businesses on preventing and responding to sexual harassment in the workplace.

To ensure the work was informed by the latest evidence, the SafeWork NSW Respect at Work Taskforce and NSW Government’s Centre for Work Health and Safety invested in a research project. The project was led by the former organisations in collaboration with RMIT University and The University of Newcastle and explored evidence-based and prevention-led interventions to address workplace sexual harassment.

SafeWork NSW also sought insights from more than 60 stakeholders, including worker, union, government and business representatives across 18 industries, to help inform the new strategy.

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