Skip to content

Djarragun College – Gordonvale Campus, Far North Queensland

Health and safety representative success story: Education and training industry

A special thank you to the staff of Djarragun College who kindly shared their success story by way of encouraging other workplaces to adopt genuine, proactive, transparent workplace consultation processes.

The Office of Industrial Relations respectfully acknowledges the Malanbarra Clan of the Yidinji Tribe who are the Traditional Custodians of the land in which Djarragun College is built upon. In the spirit of true reconciliation, we extend this respect to all Elders past and present, and the First Peoples who kindly agreed to appear in this film.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this film may contain images or names of people who have passed away.

My name's Locke vank, I'm a secondary teacher here at jargon college, which is located just south of cans, uh, jargon caters for students from prep to year 12 in both day and boarding. Uh, I'm one of eight health and safety reps here at jargon. The main roles and responsibilities of the HSR is to be that effective communication between the PC B U or the employer and the employees or your work group that you've been elected to represent. I became a HSR because I wanted to make a difference from my colleagues. Uh, I felt like I could add value to their workplace by, um, being that mouthpiece for them. And speaking up about safety. The role of a HSR is important to me because it allows, and it fosters that effective communication between the work group and the PC. And at the end of the day, that's what makes the workplace safe for everyone. It creates greater awareness of health and safety within the workplace. And that all goes towards building a, a more healthy safety culture amongst the workers and the employer

As an employer. The biggest benefit that I have by having HSR in my workplace is they've got the time to meet one on one or in small groups with their work groups, given the size of our organization. It would be impossible for me to have conversations of safety with every single one of our staff members. So knowing and trusting that I've got employees who are able to represent those conversations with their work groups back to a committee where I can then work with a committee around those issues is one of the biggest benefits that we see. And I see as the employer being involved in the HSC process and the HSR,

I see the main benefits of the HSR as good or effective communicators in our workplace.

Our journey was a journey over about six months where we spent time working with our employees in their work groups and identifying what were the work groups across the whole college. Given that we have people who work in our boarding program in our day school, we have nonteaching teaching staff. We have maintenance staff, office staff, what were the work groups that represented the diversity of our staffing population. And then we worked with the, uh, employees union about what they saw the importance of the work groups within our college to make sure there was alignment between what the employees saw as their work group and what the union saw as being a supportive structure. So we spent time working with the employees, um, to arrive at a position and the number of positions, uh, that would be developed across the school.

Uh, it's important prior to, uh, starting the process to make sure that the whole election process is set up fairly equitably for everyone. We used a, uh, online election system for us, cause our work group was so diverse across the organization. So we completed our training after we were elected, the training was mainly like workshop and, uh, bits of theory, but there was also some practical activities as well, which is really good to consolidate that learning

One of the ways in which I support the employees and the HSR here at the college is providing an opportunity for members to meet in their work groups on a regular basis. The way that we do that is providing an opportunity in our meeting schedule for those members to come together and to have the time for that to occur. In recent weeks, we've had conversations with the union to make sure that that's an opportunity for them to be part of that conversation. And for them to be part of the process in meeting our workplace of health and safety committee was established by working with our executive leaders to create an opportunity for our HSR to meet on a regular basis. And a part of that was identifying the structure that would best suit our school. Given that we have staff who work across a 24 hour period here at the school, finding a time where the HSR could come together to form that group was important. We spent time looking at how do we embed that then into our daily functions here at the school. So creating opportunities for that in our workplace program of learning where our staff meet every Tuesday afternoon, and we have now embedded one of those meetings every four weeks to be for the HSC committee to meet.

I see the committee as a valuable consultation resource within the college. Our committee meet once a month and we are fortunate to have management representatives attending every meeting. And that's the importance they place on safety. Having management representation means the management get to hear their concerns and ideas firsthand. It also means solutions are discussed and then decisions can be made on the spot. In some cases, this leads to item being action the very next day, which is a great achievement

Workplace. Consultation is a really difficult area to get right all of the time because you're working with people who have all different perspectives, the way in which we've been able to have success in that consultation phase is being able to actively listen. And that means sometimes we have to work slower than we would like to in making changes here in the workplace and being able to make adaptions to the way in which we work, our procedures, our systems of work, how we allocate work, how we manage the workloads of our employees, because that takes time to hear and to be able to problem solve together. So part of the way of doing that, and one of the challenges that we were able to overcome as part of that was finding regular time for HSR to meet with their work group. And then for me to work with the HSC and being able to implement some of those recommendations that came from the HSR.

The thing I enjoy most about being a HSR is being able to chat to my colleagues about things that are going on in their workplaces as teachers. We often work by ourselves in our classrooms. So being able to have those conversations outside of the classroom about what's going on and how we can work together to improve things. It's a really rewarding part of it. If, uh, someone came to me asking for advice to become a HSR, I'd say, just give it a go. Um, a HSR plays a really crucial role in ensuring that communication between their colleagues and their coworkers and the employer or the PC B, and that at the end of the day, we'll just make safety better for everyone. But the most important thing is develop those good, healthy lines of communication with your employer and so that they can trust you and that you can trust them that everyone's doing their job properly.

A person conducting a business or undertaking has a legal duty to ensure that elected health and safety reps or HSR complete the regulator approved training required of the role within three months of being elected in Queensland. This is an initial five day course followed by a one day refresher. At least every three years. The employer's legal duty extends to allowing the HSR to attend the training in work, time, paying the training fees and any other reasonable cost associated with attending the training and providing paid work time to attend the training under the legislation, a HSR can perform the following functions relevant to their work group, inspect the workplace or part of a workplace accompanied inspector during an inspection of the workplace, be present at a health and safety related interview of a worker with that worker's consent receive information about the health and safety of their work group request assistance from any person and request the establishment of a health and safety committee under certain circumstances, elected and trained HSR also have specific powers to direct unsafe work, to stop and issue a provisional improvement notice otherwise known as a pin consultation with the employer is required before enacting either of these powers.

Usually these powers are often seen as a last resort to manage serious and imminent risk or a breach of legislation as a person conducting a business or undertaking the legislation states you must consult with HSR regarding health and safety issues prepare and maintain a list of HSR. Provide a copy of the list to the regulator, display a copy of the list in the workplace and display a pin. As soon as practical after its issue, penalties do apply for failure to comply with these requirements.

If you need more help with HSR or workplace consultation in general, refer to the work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination code of practice for smaller businesses, you can also refer to the safety fundamentals toolkit on the work safe Queensland website. HSR direct is a free telephone advisory service available to elected HSR who have specific safety inquiries. HSR direct can be contacted through workplace health and safety Queensland on 1, 306 double 3, 4 1 9. The Queensland council of unions also provides HSR support service who can be If you are an employer needing assistance with setting up effective workplace consultation systems in your workplace, workplace health and safety Queensland offers the injury prevention and management IPAM program IPAM is a free advisory service provided to Queensland businesses who need assistance with their health, safety and injury management systems. You can register for the IPAM program on the work safe Queensland website, which is work or email direct to workplace assistance. OD gov AU.