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About the Seacare Authority

Responsible Minister

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

Diagram of entities and reporting relationships for the Seafarers safety, rehabilitation and compensation scheme. The Seacare Authority advises and reports to the Minister for Industrial Relations. Comcare supports the Seacare Authority and consults with the Attorney-General’s Department who reports to the Minister for Industrial Relations. Refer Membership and Operations of Seacare Authority for further details

Membership

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

Members

Eligible to attend

Attended

Attended by Deputy

Barry Sherriff

4

3

N/A

Jennifer Taylor

2

1

N/A

Lynette MacLean

1

1

N/A

Dale Emmerton

4

3

-

Natasha Lindfield

4

3

1

Nathan Niven

2

2

-

Penny Howard

4

4

-

Mick Kinley

4

2

1

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).

Administrative support

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.