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The Inaugural Workplace Manslaughter Conference

4 December 2019 | Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne

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Victoria is set to become the third Australian jurisdiction to make Workplace Manslaughter a criminal offence by the end of the year.

The planned penalties will be the toughest in Australia, with employers to face fines of up to $16 million and a jail term of up to 20 years. More details are anticipated to be unveiled by the Victorian government’s Workplace Manslaughter Implementation Taskforce in coming months.

What is clear is that, as always, organisations must mandate the safety of its people as their top priority, not least because of the heightened public and regulatory scrutiny.

The conference will bring together legal experts, leading health and safety professionals, relevant regulatory bodies in Victoria and other jurisdictions and more. Topics that will be addressed include:

  • What the shift from ‘recklessness’ to ‘gross negligence’ means for employers
  • Review workplace risks and systems with experts particularly for high risk industries
  • The ‘reasonably practicable’ test in light of the new approach to safety
  • Good and best practice for improving culture and systems to improve safe outcomes
  • Clarifying the multiple duty holder issue
  • How will Victoria’s laws differ from Queensland’s and what can be learned?
  • Will WorkSafe be responsible for investigation and prosecution?
  • System, procedural and legal preparations for organisations instances where prosecution of the criminal offence is a possibility


8:50 am

OPENING | Opening remarks from the Chair

Kate Elliott, Director, Elliott Safety


9:00 am

  • Maximum penalties versus existing penalties
  • The multiple overlapping duty holder issue
  • The test shifting from recklessness to negligence and an outcomes-focused approach
  • What have the jurisdictions all done with that
  • Considering how general manslaughter laws will apply to the new regime
  • Exploring the burdens of proof, general consequences and penalties proposed under the new laws from a practical legal perspective

9:45 am

Industrial Manslaughter laws have been in place in Queensland for 2 years, with the first prosecution now underway. This session will explore the impact of the laws on:

  • Incident investigation and ramifications
  • Why the creation of an independent office of prosecution has been core to the effective implementation, investigation and prosecution of offences
  • The impact of IM being introduced into the resources sector in Queensland

10:15 am

  • Attributing guilt to a company in an industrial manslaughter charge: likely approaches
  • Who will face personal liability? What the new offence will mean for:
    – OHS leadership and culture
    – Due diligence for directors and officers
    – Incident action plans
    – Insurance
    – Risk allocation and consultation
    – Governance frameworks

10:35 am

Networking and refreshment break


11:05 am

  • Incident response for employers and managers
  • What workers and managers should and shouldn’t do when being investigated by WorkSafe

11:35 am

Fatalities involving heavy vehicle drivers is significantly overrepresented in workplace deaths and road transport has been identified as a priority industry in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022. This session will:

  • Examine a heavy vehicle as a ‘workplace’ and how the safety duty under the HVNL interacts with duties under the WHS/OHS Acts
  • Explore if a breach of the HVNL could give rise to potential liability for workplace manslaughter
  • How the various regulators coordinate a response to fatalities involving heavy vehicles

11:55 am

WOHS Legislation and IM - Sword or Shield

Sue Bottrell, Lawyer and Director, SOS Safety and Legal

12:15 pm

  • Key differences between IM/WM law across ACT, QLD, and VIC
  • What is the likelihood of Commonwealth IM laws and speculative timelines? What would Commonwealth IM laws look like, and how might they be implemented?

12:45 pm

Lunch and networking break


1:45 pm

  • Exploring past cases that would be prosecuted as a WM offence under the new laws
  • The importance of SMWS in keeping workers safe
  • Examples of industry best practice in working at height, falling objects, and other major hazards and risks in construction
  • Examining near misses and incidents in residential and commercial construction and how these could have been prevented

2:05 pm

  • Exploring what Coles is doing at its Distribution Centres to manage its biggest risks
  • Specific examples include material handling guides, stock falling from height and other high risk activities
  • Case studies of incidents that have led to change in process and behaviour

2:30 pm

  • Steps for ensuring managers are aware of their obligations in relation to mental health
  • Managing psychological injury including bullying and harassment in light of the proposed laws
  • Rolling out effective and proactive due diligence programs

3:00 pm

Networking and refreshment break


3:30 pm

An interactive, simulated court case will explore a hypothetical workplace fatality, and how a company may be prosecuted under proposed Workplace Manslaughter laws.

  • What types of conduct could result in a WM offence?
  • See examples of evidence from the prosecution
  • How could the defence respond to charges, tests, evidence and submissions?
  • What legal approach and strategies should individuals and companies take, compared with other offences under OHS laws?
  • How can a company prepare for this?
  • Be involved as a witness, judge, court officer or juror


  • Explore incident response protocols and processes, and address potential conflicts of interest between individuals and the company
  • Understand how the court views and judges safety, day-to-day operations, and the role and responsibilities of officers and senior officers
  • Examine and understand vulnerabilities in an organisation’s safety systems, processes and culture, and steps to address those gaps

5:00 pm

CLOSING | Closing Remarks from the Chair

5:10 pm

END OF CONFERENCE | Networking Drinks


Packages Price
One Day Conference$1395+GSTEarly Bird
Packages Price
One Day Conference$995+GSTEarly Bird

Book 3 delegates and receive the 4th delegate pass at no cost.
To take advantage of this offer, call us today on 02 9080 4307 or email
Note: All delegates must be from the same company and register at the same time to qualify.


Aaron Guilfoyle

Work Health and Safety Prosecutor, Office of the Work Health and Safety Prosecutor Queensland

Harold Downes

Partner, Mills Oakley

Charles Power

Partner, Holding Redlich

Alena Titterton

Partner, Clyde & Co

Ben Burke

Partner, Baker McKenzie

Liam O’Brien

Assistant Secretary, ACTU

Steve Bell

Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills

Chris Kummerow

Director of Prosecutions, Statutory Compliance, National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

Jo Hammond

General Manager, Safety, Health and Wellbeing - Supply Chain, Coles Group

Amanda Upton

The Victorian Bar

Robert Taylor

Barrister, The Victorian Bar

John Darcy

Senior EHS consultant, Anitech Consulting

Kate Elliott

Director, Elliott Safety

Sue Bottrell

Lawyer and Director, SOS Safety and Legal

when & where

04 Dec 2019

Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne
328 Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9250 1888

Book Accommodation with Lido Group
For your convenience Lido Group will manage your accommodation needs. Click here or call on 02 8585 0808.


Still have a question?

Margaret Young
Conference Producer
02 9080 4037

Alex Cook
Sponsorship & Exhibition Manager
02 9080 4425

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