The Commission operates within the Employment portfolio. The Minister for Employment is the responsible Minister and has the power to give directions to the Commission about the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers. These directions may include criteria and procedures for the scope of licences, record keeping and reporting requirements, and related matters.
Role and function
The Commission administers functions under the SRC Act, other than those functions attributed to Comcare. The SRC Act establishes the workers’ compensation scheme covering Commonwealth employees, Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government employees and the employees of licensed entities.
The Commission has both general and specific roles and functions conferred on it by the SRC Act and WHS Act. The role and functions under the SRC Act are to:
- ensure that, as far as practicable, there is equity of outcomes resulting from administrative practices and procedures used by Comcare and a licensee in the performance of their respective functions under the SRC Act
- advise the Minister about anything relating to the operation of the SRC Act or to the Commission’s functions or powers
- issue guidelines to Comcare or licensees about their powers and functions
- be the issuing authority and regulator of self-insurance licences under the SRC Act, including the setting of licence fees
- provide guidelines on the setting of premiums and a review point (if required) for employers’ premium and regulatory contribution determinations
- undertake other functions as conferred on the Commission by any other Act.
Under the WHS Act, the functions of the Commission are to:
- advise the Minister on the administration of the WHS Act
- advise and make recommendations to the Minister on the most effective means of giving effect to the objects of the WHS Act
- enquire into and make recommendations to the Minister on any matter relating to work health and safety referred to the Commission by the Minister
- provide a forum for consultation between Comcare and persons conducting business or undertakings, workers and the bodies that represent them.
The Commission has an evaluation framework which it uses to provide assurance that it has appropriately discharged its statutory responsibilities. The framework includes an assessment of the outcomes and activities of the Commission against each of its statutory functions at each regular quarterly meeting, with an annual assessment conducted at its June meeting.
The outcomes and activities against each functional category enable the Commission to make an informed assessment of its performance in meeting its regulatory functions as listed above.
At its June 2017 meeting the Commission resolved that it had satisfactorily discharged its statutory responsibilities for the 2016–17 reporting year.
Further evidence that the Commission is meeting its accountabilities and fulfilling its statutory responsibility is demonstrated when the Chairperson reports on the outcomes of each regular Commission meeting to the Minister.
The SRC Act provides for the Commission to have 11 members. The Minister appoints members under the legislation. Members other than the Chairperson may appoint a deputy, subject to the Minister’s approval. A member, other than Safe Work Australia’s CEO, holds office on a part-time basis for a term not longer than three years, as specified in the instrument of appointment. Members are eligible for reappointment.
The Commission comprised the following members during 2016–17:
- Mr Barry Sherriff, Chairperson
- Mr Michael Borowick, Assistant Secretary, member nominated by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
- Mr Trevor Gauld, State Secretary, Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union, member nominated by the ACTU
- Ms Lisa Newman, Deputy National President, Community and Public Sector Union, member nominated by the ACTU
- Mr Dominic Andreacchio, representing the licensees
- Mr Steve Kibble, Group Manager, Work Health and Safety Policy Group, Department of Employment, representing the Commonwealth and Commonwealth authorities
- Ms Michelle Baxter, CEO of Safe Work Australia
- VADM Ray Griggs AO CSC RAN, Vice Chief of the Defence Force, representing the interests of members and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF)
- Ms Catherine Hudson, representing the interests of the ACT public sector employers
- Ms Jane Hall, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw Australia, member with qualifications and experience relevant to the Commission’s functions, or the exercise of its powers (appointed on 7 November 2016)
- Mr Stephen Somogyi, Deputy Chairperson, Principal Advisor Strategic Projects—Monash University, member with qualifications or experience relevant to the Commission’s functions, or the exercise of its powers.
Operations of the Commission
The Commission meets on a quarterly basis with additional meetings held as required. Five members constitute a quorum, as long as the following members are present:
- at least one member nominated by the ACTU
- the member representing licensees
- the member representing the Commonwealth and Commonwealth authorities.
The Commission held four meetings in 2016–17 on 15 September 2016, 30 November 2016, 8 March 2017 and 13–14 June 2017. Details of attendance at Commission meetings during 2016–17 are shown in Table 25.
|Commissioners||Eligible to attend||Attended||Attended by deputy|
|VADM Ray Griggs (Australian Defence Force)||4||3||1|
During 2016–17 the following deputies attended Commission meetings:
- RADM Brett Wolski, deputy to VADM Ray Griggs
- Ms Amanda Grey, deputy to Michelle Baxter
- Ms Justine Ross, deputy to Steve Kibble
- Mr Brad Parker, deputy to Michael Borowick
- Mr Benjamin Maxfield, deputy to Lisa Newman.
The following sub-committees operated during the reporting year.
Reviewing the Regulation of Self-Insured Licensees sub-committee
Purpose: To consider options for change that will most effectively meet the regulatory objectives and statutory powers of the Commission without unnecessary regulatory burden.
Throughout the reporting period, and in consultation with licensee representatives, affiliated unions and other stakeholders, the sub-committee developed the supporting elements of the new regulatory model which was endorsed at the Commission’s June 2016 meeting and took effect from 1 July 2016.
Members: Chairperson Barry Sherriff and Commissioners Dominic Andreacchio, Trevor Gauld and Steve Kibble.
Premiums and Regulatory Contributions Review sub-committee
Purpose: To review Comcare determination of premium or regulatory contributions (if required). In the reporting period, the Commission also directed this sub-committee to review the Commission’s Premium Determination Guidelines.
In 2016–17, the sub-committee was not required to convene. No reviews were required of Comcare reviews of determination of premium or regulatory contributions as per section 97K of the SRC Act.
Members: Chairperson Barry Sherriff and Commissioners Steve Kibble and Steve Somogyi.
The Commission has the powers and functions to make a wide range of decisions under the SRC Act and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Directions 2002 and other legislative instruments. Commission decisions of an administrative character are subject to judicial review.
Specific reporting requirements
The Commission is subject to specific annual reporting requirements under the SRC Act and Directions to include particulars of:
- Directions given by the Minister
- guidelines issued by the Commission
- the operations of each licensee
- records required to be kept in relation to licensees under the Directions.
Directions and guidelines
Under section 89S of the SRC Act the Commission is required to provide a report to the Minister to give to Parliament on its activities for each financial year. Among other things, the report must include particulars of any Directions given by the Minister under section 89D and any guidelines issued by the Commission under section 73A of the SRC Act.
The Minister issued no Directions to the Commission under the SRC Act during 2016–17.
During 2016–17, the Commission registered its Premium Determination Guidelines 2016 which apply to the determination of 2017–18 premiums under section 73A. The Commission also issued its Provision of Information and Consultation Requirements guidance for licensees to assist licensees in understanding the Commission’s requirements when providing information to employees and their representative in relation to significant events in relation to a self-insurance licence.