Work health and safety harms affecting Aboriginal workers and businesses

Research question

What are the current Work Health and Safety (WHS) harms or risks facing Aboriginal workers and businesses in NSW?

What is this research about?

In NSW, Aboriginal people face health, educational and socioeconomic disadvantages that contribute to lower life expectancies and employment rates than non-Aboriginal people.

Existing research indicates that the types of work-related injuries and illnesses experienced by Aboriginal people differs from the general population (Mayhew & Vickerman, 1996). Musculoskeletal disorders, diseases of the respiratory system and mental disorders have been overrepresented in the Aboriginal population. Issues surrounding job security, racism, lack of knowledge of WHS rights and underreporting of workplace incidents have also been reported (Mayhew & Vickerman, 1996).

However, In the past two decades, research into work health and safety (WHS) risks and issues experienced by Aboriginal workers is limited. There is also a lack of robust data exploring WHS risks, harms, and key issues experienced by Aboriginal workers and PCBUs.

These gaps highlight the need to identify the current WHS issues Aboriginal workers and businesses face, and their prevalence in NSW.

What will the researchers do?

Researchers will address the following 5 objectives:

1. Develop an advisory group of Aboriginal community representatives and/or workers regarding WHS issues.

2. Consult with Aboriginal advisory group regarding the following questions:

  1. What are the current WHS issues facing Aboriginal workers and PCBUs in NSW?
  2. What are the key areas of Aboriginal worker WHS issues that future research should focus on?

3. Produce a research report detailing the consultation of Aboriginal community advisory group.

4. Produce recommendations for WHS research avenues identified by Aboriginal advisory group.

5. Comply with NHMRC guidelines on ethical conduct in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities.

Research partners and stakeholders

Monaghan Dreaming

Behavioural Insights Team


Project commenced: March 2020

Project completion: October 2020

Want to know more?

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Further reading

Mayhew, C., & Vickerman, L. (1996). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander occupational health and safety: A pilot study in Queensland. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2, 61–68.