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SCOUTS AUSTRALIA 'PREPARED' FOR NEW WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
Scouts Australia is in an excellent position to embrace the changes arising from the Federal Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), implemented in some states on January 1, 2012.
Being an organisation focussed on the responsible conducting of adventurous activities for its members, Scouts Australia is already deeply committed to the health and safety of all Members and visitors, as demonstrated by detailed policies and procedures throughout the organisation.
The WHS Act includes new responsibilities for volunteers. In states where the WHS Act has already been implemented, Scouts Australia is now classified as a ‘Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking’ (PCBU) and has a duty to look after the health and safety of its Members and others while they are engaged in Scouting activities. A set of regulations in each State highlight the way a PCBU must act in regard to Work, Health and Safety matters. Failure to comply with the law might result in financial penalties issued by the State Regulator. While only the New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Queensland Governments implemented the WHS Act on 1 January 2012, it is expected that all other States will follow the same practice by the end of this year.
Scout Leaders have always had a ‘duty of care’ to the young people participating in the Scout program - the only difference is now this is formalised for all volunteer organisations. Scout Leaders already undertake extensive specialised training within Scouts Australia prior to becoming a Leader. In addition Leaders have to undergo further intensive training before they are able to become Leaders for adventurous activities. Volunteers and participants who work within the policies and requirements of Scouts Australia, following instructions given by persons conducting the adventurous activities, will be compliant with the new requirements under the WHS Act.
Mr. David W. Jones AM, Chairman, National Executive Committee and Chairman, National Risk Management Committee said, “While the WHS Act changes are quite significant for Volunteer based organisations, Scouts Australia already has best practice policies and regulations in place which will help it properly deal with the changes arising from the WHS Act.”
The new changes however will mean that all Scout Leaders and supporters will have to undergo additional training to ensure they are made aware of their responsibilities under this Act. Some Leaders will also be required to participate in Health and Safety Committees in accordance with the Act. Scouts Australia will be developing e learning modules for all its Leaders and Volunteers to assist with the implementation of the new processes required by the Act.
Updated information on commitments in regard to the notification, safe work practices and policies for volunteers under the new WHS Act is being provided to Members to help them ‘Be Prepared’.
WHS ACT 2011
For more information on the new legislation in NSW please visit the NSW Work Cover website at http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx
For more information on the new legislation in ACT please visit the ACT Work Cover website at http://www.worksafe.act.gov.au/health_safety
For more information on the new legislation in NT please visit the NT Work Cover website at: http://www.worksafe.nt.gov.au/Legislation/New%20Work%20Health%20and%20Safety%20Laws/Pages/default.aspx
For more information on the new legislation in Queensland please visit the Queensland Work Cover website at http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/index.htm