Libs move to protect volunteers
Wednesday, 18 January 2012
The Liberal Opposition will move amendments to Labor‟s flawed work safety legislation to try to protect the position of volunteers, Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Rob Lucas said today.
National work safety expert Ken Phillips has confirmed Labor‟s new laws will reclassify millions of volunteers as workers, who could now be prosecuted and fined.
Mr Phillips has warned that Labor‟s laws will „trigger a collapse in volunteerism‟ as new responsibilities are placed on the shoulders of scout leaders, youth leaders and volunteers running local football and netball clubs.
Scouts Australia NSW has already warned volunteer scout leaders about the possibility of them being prosecuted and fined:
“Section Leaders are required to perform the following duties:
Promptly rectify or notify safety issues around the Scout Hall
Conduct risk assessments on proposed games and activities and ensure that the activity can be done with a reasonable expectation of safe participation
Provide clear and concise instructions to Youth Members on safety issues
Enforce safety requirements and the use of personal protection equipment where required
Follow the policies and procedures of the Association
If you do not follow directives, policies and procedures, you may be fined.”i
“Whilst the Labor Government is claiming nothing much has changed because commonsense will prevail, the reality is a court will have to rule on the precise words in the legislation,” Mr Lucas said.
“Labor Ministers cannot deny that Labor‟s bill will increase the chances of hard working volunteers being prosecuted and fined.
“Labor‟s bill will also mean unions for the first time will have the right of entry into premises and „work sites‟ of volunteer organisations if they claim they are checking on work safety issues.
“These concerns about the impact of Labor‟s laws on volunteers are further confirmation about the need for significant amendments to the bill before being passed by the South Australian Parliament.”
Debate on the bill will recommence in the Legislative Council this year after being adjourned by the Legislative Council in November last year.
i See www.contractworld.com.au/pages/PDFs/scouting-volunteers-worksafe-responsibilities.pdf