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Bringing Forward Worker Safety Measures

Crossbench Senators Jacqui Lambie and David Pocock are today releasing four private senators’ bills for consultation as they seek to bring forward consideration of urgent worker safety measures from the Government’s Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023.

The four private senators’ bills bring forward sections of the omnibus bill that deal with:

  1. PTSD – to make it easier for Federal police, paramedics and firefighters to claim for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – without having to first prove that they have PTSD from their job.
  2. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – stops employers from taking adverse action against workers on the basis that they have been subjected to family and domestic violence. It protects victims of domestic violence from being discriminated against in the workplace. 
  3. SMALL BUSINESS - protects redundancy payments for workers who might be working for larger businesses – that have become technically a small business due to insolvency.
  4. SILICOSIS - brings silica in line with asbestos under the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, including coordination on silica safety and silica related disease. It’s estimated that nearly half a million young tradies are exposed to silica dust – with thousands already diagnosed with silicosis. Like asbestosis - silicosis is incurable.

The bills are being released for a two week consultation period before parliament resumes on 16 October.

Senator Jacqui Lambie said:

“When David, Tammy & I stood with those first responders two weeks ago - we heard first hand that they need this help now.

“First responders put their lives on the line for us every day,  it’s not all we can do but it’s the least we can do to keep them and their families safe.”

ACT Independent Senator David Pocock said first responders, people at risk from silicosis, small business employees and survivors of domestic and family violence shouldn’t have to wait for the added protections contained in the legislation.

“The PTSD provisions are important changes for frontline workers. I’ve been hearing from frontline workers with PTSD about the urgent need for recognition and support. I appreciate the Minister moving forward with this provision but it is unclear why it needs to be in an industrial relations omnibus, rather than standalone, bill,” Senator Pocock said.  

“This isn’t about leaving any workers behind, it’s about bringing forward simple changes that have broad support and will improve worker safety and protections. 

“Other parts of the Omnibus bill are more complex and require time to properly examine, consult on and consider whereas these areas are straightforward and uncontroversial.”

The titles of the bills are:

Fair Work Legislation Amendment (First Responders) Bill 2023

Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency) Bill 2023

Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Protections Against Discrimination) Bill 2023

Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Small Business Redundancy Exemption) Bill 2023

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