The Seacare Authority operates within the Attorney-General’s portfolio. The Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations has the power to give directions to the Seacare Authority about the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers.
Purpose, role and function
The Seacare Authority is a statutory body established under the Seafarers Act with purposes derived from its functions under the Seafarers Act and OHS(MI) Act. These purposes are to:
promote healthy and safe workplaces and appropriate and timely compensation for, and rehabilitation of, injured workers covered by the Seacare scheme
maintain a scheme safety net that is able to meet its liabilities.
The Seacare Authority administers both the Seafarers Act and OHS(MI) Act. The inspectorate function under the OHS(MI) Act has been conferred on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). AMSA provides a regular report to the Seacare Authority on the performance of its functions.
The Seacare Authority has a number of powers and functions conferred on it to ensure the safety of employees covered under the OHS(MI) Act, as well as to ensure the early and safe return to work and access to compensation for injured employees under the Seafarers Act. The Seacare Authority is also responsible for ensuring that employers comply with their obligations under the Levy Collection Act and the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Levy Collection Regulations 2018.
In addition, the Minister, by notice published under section 100, has declared the Seacare Authority to have the functions, powers and obligations of the Fund.
Under the Seafarers Act
The Seacare Authority’s functions under the Seafarers Act are:
to monitor the operation of the Seafarers Act
to promote high operational standards of claims management and effective rehabilitation procedures by employers
to cooperate with other bodies or people with the aim of reducing incidence of injuries to employees
to publish material relating to the above functions
to formulate policies and strategies relating to the OHS of employees
to accredit OHS training courses for the purposes of section 47 of the OHS(MI) Act
to advise the Minister about anything relating to the Seacare Authority’s functions and powers and other matters relating to the compensation and rehabilitation of employees
such other functions as are conferred on the Seacare Authority by the Seafarers Act or any other Act.
Under the OHS(MI) Act
The Seacare Authority’s functions under the OHS(MI) Act are to:
ensure, in accordance with the OHS(MI) Act and the Regulations, that the obligations imposed by or under the Act and the Regulations are complied with
advise operators, employees or contractors, either on its own initiative or on being asked, on OHS matters
collect, interpret and report information relating to OHS
formulate policies and strategies relating to the OHS of employees
accredit OHS training courses for the purposes of section 47
liaise with other bodies concerned with OHS
advise the Minister on:
the most effective means of giving effect to the objects of the OHS(MI) Act
the making of regulations under the OHS(MI) Act
the approval of codes of practice under subsection 109(1).
Under the Levy Act
The Seacare Authority also has functions under the Levy Act to advise the Minister on:
the need to ensure that the Fund has adequate financial reserves for its prudential management
reasonable estimates of the Fund’s present and future liabilities under the Seafarers Act
the cost of administering the Seacare Authority in connection with the performance or exercise of the Fund’s functions, powers and obligations.
Figure 1: Seafarers safety, rehabilitation and compensation scheme
The Seafarers Act provides for the Seacare Authority to have seven members, consisting of a Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, two Members representing employers, two Members representing employees and the CEO of AMSA. Members are appointed by the Minister, except for the CEO of AMSA which is an ex officio appointment. Members other than the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson may appoint a deputy, subject to the Minister’s approval.
The Seacare Authority comprised the following Members during 2018–19:
Mr Barry Sherriff, Chairperson and accountable authority for the entire financial year
Ms Jennifer Taylor, CEO of Comcare and Deputy Chairperson until 24 January 2019
Ms Lynette MacLean, Acting CEO of Comcare and Deputy Chairperson from 5 March 2019 to 5 June 2019
Mr Dale Emmerton, General Manager, SeaRoad Shipping, representing employers
Ms Natasha Lindfield, Crewing Manager, Solstad Farstad ASA, representing employers
Dr Penny Howard, National Research Officer, Maritime Union of Australia, representing employees
Mr Nathan Niven, Senior National Organiser, Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, representing employees (appointed on 14 January 2019)
Ms Meghann Papa, Industrial Officer, Australian Maritime Officers Union until 3 August 2018
Mr Mick Kinley, CEO of AMSA.
Operations of the Seacare Authority
The Seacare Authority meets at least once in every three month period with additional meetings held as required. Three Members constitute a quorum if the following Members are present:
the Chairperson or Deputy Chairperson
a Member representing employer interests
a Member representing employee interests.
The Seacare Authority held meetings on 13 September 2018, 21 November 2018, 14 March 2019, and 6 June 2019. Details of attendance at Seacare Authority meetings during 2018–19 are shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Seacare Authority meeting attendance
Eligible to attend
Attended by Deputy
During 2018–19 the following Deputy Members attended Seacare Authority meetings:
Mr Simon White, Australian Mines and Metals Association, Deputy to Ms Lindfield
Mr Stephen Curry, AMSA, Deputy to Mr Kinley.
Seacare Authority working groups
The following working group operated during the reporting year:
Mental Health Working Group
Purpose: To create and implement a Seacare Authority Mental Health Strategy with the intention of promoting mental health information and encouraging a cohesive best-practice approach to mental health in the maritime industry.
Members (as at 30 June 2019): Mr Barry Sherriff (Chair), Dr Penny Howard, Ms Natasha Lindfield and Dr Michelle Grech (AMSA).
The Seacare Authority is not a body corporate and does not employ its own staff. To enable it to perform its functions and exercise its powers, section 72A of the SRC Act requires Comcare to provide the Seacare Authority with secretariat support and other assistance, and to make available to it the services of such members of Comcare’s staff as the Seacare Authority reasonably requires from time to time for the proper performance of its functions or exercise of its powers.
During 2018–19, the services that Comcare provided to the Seacare Authority were articulated through a cross agency agreement.