Urgent bid for changes to strengthen worker protections

Police, paramedics and firefighters would access support for post traumatic stress disorder faster, while domestic violence survivors would be better protected from workplace discrimination, under changes put forward by two influential senators.

Jacqui Lambie and David Pocock are pushing for urgent action on four key changes as the Albanese government’s broader workplace reforms are held up in the upper house.

The government had hoped to pass the laws by the end of the year, but the opposition teamed up with the crossbench to delay the legislation until February.

The four bills put forward by the senators would make it easier for emergency service workers to claim for post traumatic stress disorder and block employers from taking adverse action against staff if they have experienced family violence.

Protecting redundancy payments for workers and bringing silica in line with asbestos under an independent statutory authority to prevent harmful exposure are the other sections the senators hope to legislate.

Senator Pocock said workers shouldn’t have to wait for the added protections while the government’s legislation is examined.

“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,” he said.

Peak business lobby groups will appear before a Senate inquiry into the government’s proposed reforms on Tuesday.

The laws would seek to end the practice of companies using labour-hire workers to undercut the rate of pay agreed for employees and would create pathways for casual workers to become permanent.

Senator Lambie said she had heard first-hand that frontline workers needed help.

“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,” she said.

The bills have been released for a two-week consultation period before parliament returns in mid-October.

One in five Australians experience mental illness each year, which is estimated to cost the Australian economy billions of dollars each year.

Silicosis is caused by breathing in small particles of silica dust, which is created when cutting, drilling, grinding or polishing certain types of stone, rock, sand and clay.

Inhaling the dust causes inflammation which over time leads to scarring of the lung tissue and makes it difficult to breathe.


Tess Ikonomou
(Australian Associated Press)


Like This