In the early hours of Thursday morning the Government pushed their most recent raft of changes to Workers Compensation in NSW through the Parliament.
The changes roll back some of the savage cuts made to the scheme in 2012, but they do not go far enough. They are putting at most $600 million back into benefits, but this will still leave them with a multibillion dollar surplus in the coming years.
Briefly the changes include the following:
- Increasing medical expense cover from 12 months to 2 years for most injured workers (rising to 5 years for workers with 11-20% WPI and lifetime for those with more than 21% WPI)
- Ensuring lifetime access to compensation in respect of crutches, artificial aids, home or vehicle modifications, or secondary surgery
- Restructuring Government compensation agencies into three new bodies focusing respectively on compensation, insurance regulation and workplace health and safety
- Older injured workers will now be entitled to up to 12 months income replacement after they reach the retirement age
- Allowing merits review of Work Capacity decisions by WIRO and limited access to legal costs
Many concerns had been raised about the abolition of the Dust Diseases Board as a result of the bill. The Greens join with you in these concerns and despite our supporting Shooters Party Amendments to protect the board, the combined vote of the Coalition and Fred Nile gutted the dust diseases board.
We also moved a number of amendments including to ensure all injured workers would have access to medical treatment for life and to restore lost weekly benefits. These were unfortunately not supported by the Government or the Fred Nile Party and so did not succeed.
These changes don’t return journey claims, full medical expenses or lump sum benefits that were all lost in the savage 2012 ‘reforms’.
None of these benefits would have been restored without the collaborative community campaigning from injured workers, unions and support groups.
We will continue to work with you to restore access to a fair compensation scheme that guarantees fair benefits, a transparent process and allows injured workers to preserve their dignity.