Shorten announces review of workers compensation legislation
The impact of workplace harm on workers and their families will be considered in a review of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act) announced by Minister for Workplace Relations Bill Shorten.
Mr Shorten said the aim of the review was to modernise the federal workers’ compensation scheme to ensure injured workers are given every opportunity to return to health, independence and work as quickly as possible.
“The SRC Act provides rehabilitation and compensation support to injured Australian Government workers. It also covers employees of a small number of private corporations who self-insure under the Commonwealth scheme, and employees of the ACT Government.”
Noting that a legislative review was a key aspect of Comcare’s 2015 strategic plan, Mr Shorten emphasised that the Gillard Government believes that the scheme should be best practice in scheme design and service delivery.
“It is vital that the Comcare scheme strives to return injured workers to health and independence. We must ensure that the compensation system does not create needless disability”.
The review will be undertaken by Mr Peter Hanks QC and Dr Allan Hawke AC, supported by a Secretariat in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and will consider three key aspects:
- updating the legislation and the operation of the scheme, including any legislative anomalies and updates that need to be addressed
- the performance of the Comcare scheme and ways to improve its operation
- the financial and governance framework of the Comcare scheme.
Mr Hanks will review the legislative provisions of the SRC Act, while Dr Hawke will review the performance and financial framework of the Comcare scheme.
It is expected that the review will report to the Government in February 2013. Dr Hawke’s work will be completed later this year so that its outcomes can be considered by Mr Hanks in his final report.
The review will not consider any reduction in the existing benefits afforded to workers covered under the scheme, but will seek to further improve it to achieve fair and equitable outcomes for injured workers with a strong focus on rehabilitation.
The Terms of Reference for the review are as follows:
The Australian Government aims to build a stronger, fairer Australia through improved productivity, national security, increased social inclusion and building community resilience.
The impact of workplace harm on workers and their families is significant. For this reason, the Government is committed to ensuring that the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act) provides fair and appropriate workers’ compensation arrangements for all workers covered by that legislation.
The Government believes that the Comcare scheme should be exemplary in its scheme-design as well as in its service delivery. To ensure the federal workers’ compensation arrangements reflect contemporary social models and best practice, the review will take into account arrangements within Australian and overseas accident compensation schemes. Issues such as the national disability reforms and reducing red tape will also be considered.
The review will inquire and report on:
- Any legislative anomalies and updates that need to be addressed, including:
- identifying and resolving anomalies in the legislation and in the operation of the scheme
- the framework to achieve the objectives of providing an equitable and cost-effective compensation system, with a particular emphasis on the improved rehabilitation of injured workers
- ensuring fair and equitable financial, medical and rehabilitation support for injured workers and their families
- a framework to resolve disputes quickly, fairly and at a low cost
- ensuring the application of workers’ compensation legislation does not disadvantage workers over the age of 65 and there is no gap between the workers’ compensation age limit and the foreshadowed increase to the age pension eligibility age to 67 by 2023.
2. The performance of the Comcare scheme and ways to improve its
- an examination of the different outcomes achieved by private and public sector employers concerning the recovery and return to work of injured workers
- improved delivery of recovery and support services by Comcare.
3. The financial framework of the Comcare scheme, including:
- the financial sustainability of the scheme
- a premium framework that improves and rewards scheme performance
- the governance arrangements for Comcare
- ensuring that the financial framework is consistent with contemporary prudential management practice.
The review will be finalised by 1 February 2013. It is the Government’s intention that the review will not consider any reduction in existing benefits afforded to workers covered by the Comcare scheme.