|Abstract||The states and territories have agreed to enact new, nationally consistent workplace health and safety laws. These new laws are based on the Model Work Health and Safety Bill and will come into effect on 1 January 2010. This article compares the position under the Model Act with the current legal position to identify the implications for volunteers in the Australian emergency services. It is argued that the new law will reinforce the message that Australia’s emergency service volunteers provide an important and professional service. The new law should not impede volunteers but should facilitate their work both at home and inter-state. Peer Review Icon
On the first of January 2012, the Australian states and territories are scheduled to implement new, national occupational health and safety laws. These laws will be modelled on the Model Work Health and Safety Bill published by Work Safe Australia (‘the Model Act’).1
A significant feature of the new legislation is the inclusion of volunteers into the definition of ‘worker’. Volunteers are already included in the definition of ‘worker’ in the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Queensland2 so the changes will be of most significance in the other States.
This article will compare the position under the Model Act with the current legal position to identify the implications for volunteers in the Australian emergency services. This is not a comprehensive review of the legislation but is limited to an analysis of the key provisions that may impact on emergency service volunteers. Naturally this article cannot be considered as a substitute for legal advice to deal with specific situations and issues. |