A note on purpose and scope
The purpose of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2023–2033 (the Strategy) is to outline a national vision for WHS – Safe and healthy work for all – and set the platform for delivering on key WHS improvements.
To do this, the Strategy articulates a primary goal supported by national targets, and the enablers, actions and system-wide shifts required to achieve this goal over the next ten years.
This Strategy guides the work of Safe Work Australia and its Members, including representatives of governments, employers and workers – but should also contribute to the work and understanding of all in the WHS system including researchers, experts and practitioners who play a role in owning, contributing to and realising the national vision.
Safe Work Australia wishes to thank everyone who contributed to the development of this Strategy.
The strategy is endorsed by:
Our national vision — Safe and healthy work for all — sets the agenda for our response to key WHS challenges over the next ten years.
The last ten years has seen Australia make significant progress towards improving our approach to WHS including enhancing the model regulatory framework, responding to persistent WHS challenges, and reducing harm as measured against targets set by the previous Strategy. Despite this progress, Australia has further to go in improving WHS outcomes and ensuring the WHS system is ready to address emerging challenges over the next decade.
Injury and fatality rates have fallen significantly over the last decade, however progress has slowed. We need ongoing dedication and commitment of all stakeholders — governments, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), workers, industry, unions and WHS practitioners—to continue to ensure that workers return home safely. We cannot be complacent — shifting economic, social, and environmental trends requires evolving and iterative approaches to achieve our vision.
Work-related injury and illness impacts workers and their families deeply. Reducing these can also contribute to significant economic growth – some tens of billions of dollars each year. To make further gains, we need to ensure that WHS is core to how we do business in Australia. We want WHS conversations to be commonplace in every workplace across the country. Education, innovation, and collaboration will be critical enablers of our success.
This vision will also need to be achieved in a new context. Our economy has seen changes in the industrial base and the nature of work with a further acceleration towards services, increasing integration and exposure to global trade, and rapid adoption of digital technology from small businesses through to multinationals. Our society has also changed with population growth in outer suburbs of major cities, demographic shifts and changing expectations around care and family. Our environment is now experiencing the increasing impacts of climate change. These trends will impact work in different ways.
Against this background, the Strategy sets a clear, unifying national goal to reduce worker fatalities, injuries and illness. It sets out forward-looking actions to work towards, with tangible and achievable targets to focus efforts, as stakeholders develop and implement their own solutions to the challenges ahead.
All stakeholders in our WHS system can make a valuable contribution to creating safe and healthy work that promotes the social and economic wellbeing of workers in Australia. Safe and healthy work is the result of combined efforts and a fundamental commitment to collaboration from all governments, industry, and workers and their representatives. This Strategy is agreed by Safe Work Australia Members and ministers with responsibility for WHS, demonstrating the commitment of all parties to work cooperatively to drive continual improvements in Australia’s WHS performance.