Worksafe Victoria have recently released their annual report and presented financial year outcomes to stakeholders. It has revealed a huge dividend payment of $193 million to the State Government. This is an increase on the $126.5 million that was to be extracted in the 2012-13 financial year, according to Government announcements made last st. Interestingly, it was also recently announced by Premier Barry O’Farrell and the new Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance that due to the June 2012 legislative reforms, The NSW Workers Compensation System had reached a $360 million surplus as at the 30th June 2013! But no mention that the scheme had apparently improved by $1.5 billion in November ever made! This would have been a strange occurrence considering many of the June 2012 reforms would not have yet impacted on the scheme’s financial viability.
Workcover NSW and VIC scheme Profits at the expense of much needed benefits?!
Needless to say that workcovervictimsdiary.com is both horrified and actively involved in monitoring issues such as these and lobbying Government in various ways about improved benefit delivery to injured workers, rather than extracting profits of this magnitude. I mean just a few weeks ago alone WorkSafe’s CEO mentioned she was planning on cracking down on Victorian injured workers and planned to abolish common law, even though Victoria has the highest common law “criteria”
The NSW workers compensation system is still in need of reform
In June 2012 Premier Barry O’Farrell, aided by the minor parties, introduced major legislative changes to the NSW Workers Compensation System.
The then Minister For Finance and Services Mr Greg Pearce, declared that due to an alleged $4.5billion deficit the scheme was in crisis and unless immediate changes were made,NSW businesses faced being hit with premium increases of 28% along with the risk of losing 12,000 jobs.
The reforms were to be undertaken with an apparent focus on returning people to work, offering more support for seriously injured workers – ultimately aimed at improving the schemes financial sustainability.
The June 2012 reforms would be introduced in stages although all would apply retrospectively, regardless of the date of injury. There would also be a new service called the WIRO (WorkCover Independent Review Office) offering free and independent legal advice but could also make binding decisions in resolving disputes between injured workers and the insurer.
It was recently announced by Premier Barry O’Farrell and the new Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance that due to the June 2012 legislative reforms, The NSW Workers Compensation System had reached a $360million surplus as at the 30th June 2013.
NSW Businesses were consequently given a further 5% drop in their annual premiums in addition to the 7.5% reduction awarded earlier this year. The Government also reported that there has been a drop in the number of workers compensation claims along with improved return to work outcomes – ultimately boasting that NSW now has the best return to work rates in the country.
Premier O’Farrell made no mention of the fact that the scheme had apparently improved by $1.5 billion in November 2012. This would have been a strange occurrence considering many of the June 2012 reforms would not have yet impacted on the scheme’s financial viability.
Again, the Premier never mentioned the reduction in the number of claims or any improved rates of returning people to work has only been made possible by people simply being kicked out of the system via work capacity decisions. A process that ultimately ends both weekly benefits and ongoing medical expenses 12 months thereafter, regardless of any previous legal agreement.
There have been a number of instances where the WIRO has reviewed a number of work capacity decisions. Many have subsequently resulted in the WIRO giving the NSW Workcover Authority a binding recommendation to prosecute various insurers for serious breaches of the legislation.
Even with a new Minister to oversee the portfolio of Finance and Services the insurers remain unpunished and businesses have once again been rewarded. Yet, Injured workers and their families are the ones still suffering.
The alleged deficit was viewed as being the catalyst for changes to the legislation. Considering that this deficit no longer actually exists, the time has come for Premier Barry O’Farrell or Andrew Constance to explain how their reforms are actually helping injured workers and their families regain their independence.
This post has been seen 1808 times.