Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 15, 2022


Suicide Prevention

In reply to the Hon. C. BONAROS ().7 September 2022).

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Minister for Health and Wellbeing has been advised:

1. The department is undertaking a range of projects and plans to reduce workplace stress including:

Implementing a 'respectful behaviours' policy, which includes the management of bullying and harassment.

Development of a campaign to raise awareness and provide information to staff about mechanisms for speaking up and escalation of issues.

Reducing workplace stress through increasing resources and workforce.

Consultation on rostering management to ensure quality patient care and work-life balance for the workforce.

SA Health contributes funding to Doctors Health SA, a key organisation in ensuring timely medical care and appropriate referrals for psychological support.

Supporting and promoting mental health via access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) program, peers offering peer support programs and information about various mental health and wellbeing resources via a dedicated psychological health intranet page.

2. Hayden Stephens and Associates and SASMOA have announced an investigation into possible class action against SA Health for unpaid overtime for junior doctors. To date, no action has been launched in South Australia.

3. No. The Department for Health and Wellbeing (DHW) would need to understand the precise terms of the claim in order to assess potential financial impacts and opportunities to settle those claims.

4. DHW is unaware of any formal litigation commenced by doctors for payment of unpaid entitlements in the past 12 months.

Local management, DHW and Shared Services follow-up on issues raised by doctors and any other staff about issues related to their pay. We seek to ensure that staff are paid accurately, and any issues are resolved in a timely manner.

As Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector, I have been advised:

SafeWork SA has advised that under section 19(1) of the Work, Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has a duty, so far as it is reasonably practicable, to protect workers from the risk of harm from work-related stress.

Workers might be exposed to a combination of psychosocial hazards in a workplace; some may always be present, while others only occasionally. PCBUs should understand what these risks are and how they can best control them.

At a national level, the model work health and safety (WHS) law include regulations on psychosocial hazards. A new model code of practice on managing psychosocial hazards at work has also been developed to provide practical guidance to PCBUs on how to manage workplace risks to psychological health.

This code of practice has been endorsed by the government and South Australia's Work, Health and Safety Regulations will be amended to incorporate the model WHS Regulations.

SafeWork SA has commenced the process for making the code of practice an 'approved' South Australian code of practice.

In addition, members of the Collaborative Partnership for Workplace Health and Wellbeing in South Australia, a group committed to working collaboratively towards improving workplace health, safety and wellbeing across South Australia, are due to launch a healthy workplace advisory service in late September.

This group have been tasked with helping employers to create a workplace program for healthy workplaces. One of the roles of the advisory service will be to provide a triaged service which can assist workplaces in establishing a plan for a healthy workplace, this may involve addressing matters such as suicide prevention.

I have not sought my own advice about the potential financial payout of any litigation against the Department for Health and Wellbeing. The department has a delegation which means it is responsible for the management of any monetary claims against it and, as such, this is appropriately a matter for the Minister for Health.