Legislative Council: Tuesday, September 06, 2022


Adelaide Crows Camp 2018

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:51): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question on the SafeWork South Australia investigation of the 2018 Crows camp to the Minister for Industrial Relations.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: On 28 September 2021, SafeWork SA issued a media statement titled 'Investigation into Adelaide Crows 2018 camp complete'. It went on to state:

SafeWork SA has completed its investigation of the Adelaide Crows 2018 pre-season camp. There is no evidence of any breach of the Work Health & Safety Act 2012…relating to the camp. The investigation is now closed.

Throughout the investigation, the Adelaide Football Club fully cooperated with SafeWork SA and voluntarily provided all information and material to the Investigators.

Following this media release, a media release was issued by Collective Mind, embargoed for the very same day, being 28 September, regarding the camp. It stated:

Collective Mind cleared of any wrongdoing in relation to infamous 2018 Adelaide Crows Pre-Season Training Camp.

It went on to state:

Elite performance training specialists, Collective Mind, have been cleared of any wrongdoing in relation to the infamous 2018 Adelaide Crows pre-season training camp, after an investigation which took more than a year to complete by workplace safety investigator, SafeWork SA.

In fact, in a statement today, SafeWork SA said, 'There is no evidence of any breach of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 relating to this camp' and that the investigation was now closed.

I note it has been revealed in recent weeks that deeply personal and often traumatic details were divulged by players to what have been termed 'camp counsellors' prior to the camp, which were then thrown back at them during gruelling physical sessions, contrary to assurances made to players when they divulged those details, contrary to any informed consent being given to be subjected to that sort of treatment in their workplace—indeed, a practice that would certainly appear to me to be a practice likely to create psychological harm. I note that the definition of health within the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 does indeed see health as both psychological and physical.

In a related opinion piece penned by Caroline Wilson for The Age last month and printed, I note the following by-line:

The Age reported on the Adelaide Crows' camp in 2020, in a story which included a number of similar allegations to those in Eddie Betts' autobiography, as well as other claims. Collective Mind sued for defamation. In December 2021, The Age and Nine made a business decision to settle the case and issue an apology without admitting that the story was inaccurate.

I note that that echoes a tweet that was posted, then deleted, by Channel 9's Sam McClure on that same day of the December settlement. Yet the statement from Collective Mind cited the SafeWork investigation as their vindication. The release from SafeWork SA was emphatic: a thorough investigation, we were told, with 'no evidence of any breach', we were assured. My question to the minister is: how can the South Australian public trust SafeWork SA to undertake any investigation in this state?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:55): I thank the honourable member for her question. From the outset, I will say that I am constrained about exactly what I can say due to provisions particularly in section 271 of the Work Health and Safety Act about confidentiality of investigations, but what I can say generally is that I have sought a briefing from SafeWork SA particularly in relation to the way in which the work health and safety framework addresses issues of cultural safety.

I have been advised that there is currently no regulatory guidance on how the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be taken into account in the work health and safety framework, either through SafeWork SA or nationally through Safe Work Australia. In my view, that's a significant blind spot in the system, and I have directed SafeWork to put this issue on the national agenda so that appropriate guidance material can be developed.

I have also asked SafeWork SA to review its own practices and procedures to ensure that, when investigating incidents of alleged culturally unsafe practices, expert advice is sought from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders within the communities in question. As I said at the start, my and also SafeWork SA's capacity to comment on investigations is constrained by the confidentiality provisions in section 271 of the Work Health and Safety Act, and that is an issue that was raised by Justice Mansfield in a recent inquiry into aspects of SafeWork SA.

Further, this government is committed to a review of the practices and procedures of SafeWork SA, with a particular focus on its complaints handling and investigation and prosecution function. The terms of reference for that review will be announced within the coming weeks and will provide an opportunity to consider these issues further.