Cuts to workers’ comp hit hard in NSW

Tens of thousands of permanently injured workers and retirees woke on New Year’s Day to find they had been hung out to dry by the NSW government. Needless to say the NSW workcover insurance companies have been given their greatest Xmas pressie!

Those reforms means insurance companies will be able to discharge all injured sods onto to Centre link within a record time (i.e. after 2 years) which, in turn will boost their sickening profits and “save money”. It is very bizarre indeed that workcover NSW went from $4.5 billion deficit to a $360 million surplus with in one year of the reforms. It would be interesting to see the Federal System (i.e. Centre link) debt!


Cuts to workers’ comp hit hard in NSW

Dean Maloney | 10-Jan-2014

Tens of thousands of permanently injured workers and retirees woke on New Year’s Day to find they had been hung out to dry by the NSW government.

WorkCover changes, taking effect this year, mean that up to 60,000 workers’ compensation claimants will now be footing the bill for medical expenses related to their work injuries.

“When someone gets badly injured at work – through no fault of their own – someone has to pay the bills. The O’Farrell Government has decided it is the workers themselves, and for many that means living in poverty”, said Unions NSW Deputy Assistant Secretary Emma Maiden, commenting on the changes.

Under the new rules injured workers will lose medical cover 12 months after they stop receiving workers’ compensation weekly payments. The rules apply retrospectively and will impact even those told in the past that their medical costs would be covered for life.

“Thousands of injured workers who rely on ongoing treatment and medical expenses will be affected despite many having serious injuries that require ongoing medical assistance”, John Dobson, President of the Law Society of NSW, said. “A worker with an amputation injury who has up until now been having their artificial limbs replaced by the insurer will now lose this entitlement.”

The website of the Injured Workers Support Network, which offers assistance and advice to people with work related injuries, has been flooded since news of the changes got out. “A lot of people were unaware that they’d be caught up in the changes”, Adam Grumley, the Network’s co-ordinator, told Red Flag. “We’ve received quite a lot of phone calls from very distressed people.”

Grumley thinks the consequences for many injured workers will be devastating. He highlights the case of workers who need expensive medication and will now find themselves unable to afford their treatment. “An injured worker’s dependence on pain killing medication does not automatically end with any form of legislative changes – the full ramifications will be felt over time as medical expenses pile up.”

The O’Farrell government has claimed that the cuts to entitlements were made to keep WorkCover financially viable. The same fiscal concern wasn’t evident when WorkCover insurance premiums paid by bosses were cut by an average of 12.5 percent last year.

The NSW Business Chamber, a “vocal advocate of the need to reform the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme” has hailed the strategy of saving millions for NSW business by taking it from workers’ compensation. “The NSW Business Chamber is particularly pleased to see the approach the Government took in making sure the Scheme became sustainable”, it said.(WTF!)

While businesses might cheer cuts to workers’ compensation, injured workers are being made to pay dearly for O’Farrell’s “reforms”.


The changes are part of harsh changes to the WorkCover legislation brought in by the NSW government that are starting to bite.

Many people injured at work who have been receiving ongoing medical payments through WorkCover have recently been shocked to receive notices saying it will end on 31 December.

Only those who have catastrophic or extremely severe injuries (at least over 30% WPI) will continue to get their ongoing medical bills paid under Workcover. This does not necessarily include people who have lost a limb or have severe spinal injuries. A man who lost his leg below the knee received only 28% WPI! Many injured workers who have prosthetic limbs won’t be able to replace them when necessary. All entitlements to medical expenses are being cut off after 12 months from the date weekly payments cease!

Entitlements are based on impairment percentages which themselves are somewhat confusing.  Those under the 30 % threshold will have to undergo work capacity assessments.  These are determined by the insurer.  The right of appeal to the Compensation Commission is now gone and the workers legal costs in respect to work capacity matters are no longer covered.

The government announced a $309 million surplus for the WorkCover scheme, hailing it a great result for employers and jobs…. at the expense of the injured workers who are being hit hard by these cruel changes to WorkCover! Many NSW injured workers are now terrified of losing their finances as well as having their lives ruined by their work accident.

All this comes on top of abolishing lump sum compensation for impairment unless the victim’s impairment is greater than 10 per cent. This includes industrial deafness, most back injuries and even shoulder reconstructions. Compensation for pain and suffering has been abolished.

The insurance companies now call the shots as they decide whether a worker is injured enough to receive payments. If they cut payments to injured workers then of course their profits will go up.

A review of WorkCover is proposed for 2014.


8 Responses to “Cuts to workers’ comp hit hard in NSW”

  1. Good article At A Loss. Unfortunately we are up against a population which continually votes against its own interests. They either believe the fear mongering of the media or they try to eliminate politics from their lives. The other problem is the relativism that is used to justify voting against one’s interests, you know that one – ‘the other party were just as bad’ mantra. Any injured worker or their families who vote for the O Farrell government in 2015 will be saying I agree with the changes made to WC in June 2012 and they may as well befriend their case managers and IMEs. It is so important that people do become political (after all that is what caused our problems in the first place). We know that we do not have any chance of getting OFarrell’s government to change, so our only hope apart from long drawn out legal action is to vote these representatives of big business out.

  2. Fuck me Poor Bazza he know’s he is a useless turd, guys and girls u have covered the lot

  3. I suggest Vicky & everyone else that has being affected by these changes tells their story..this can be done at :

  4. Disgusting, Despicable and Atrocious is the definition of the liberal party.

    it is time to contemplate a mass rally in front of parliament, why is the union movement not moving on this?
    The unions need to be organizing, advertising and publicizing a mass rally and community awareness.
    Bazza has lost the plot, it is profits before people across all government portfolios.
    enough is enough.

    He has no regard for human life, his whole approach is about profits before people. Look at the workers comp reforms not a single injury or death has been prevented, its all about profits. Drunken violence, again he bows to the business interests rather than the publics demands, its all about profits again.

    Bazza don’t be a fool, business entities are unable to vote. The people who placed you in office are going to remove you, they are the voters.
    Stop preying on the weak and vulnerable annul the retrospective amendments to the workers comp scheme, get tougher on violence and adopt the anti bullying laws that have been passed federally.

  5. Vicki, I emphasise with you in your situation and it is definitely not fair. The problem with comparing your situation with others is that we do not know all the factors involved in their issue. What is actually more concerning to me is that those injured in NSW prior to June 2012 were legally covered for medical and weekly benefits and chose to forgo higher compensation payouts because of that, so what the O Farrell government has done is called a breach of faith and legally it would be thrown out in the High Court if it was challenged. I am also extremely concerned about what will now happen to people like you, there have been many reports that the current Federal government is about to tighten the criteria for those needing to go onto the Disability Pension (which is comparable to the statutory weekly benefits of WC) and that means Newstart (about half the amount of weekly benefits) for those affected and most crucially no Health Care Card!!!!! which means having to pay the high cost of medication. Instead of getting angry with asylum seekers (which is exactly what these types of governments want you to do, it is called divide and conquer and asylum seekers do not actually get the welfare payments people think they do) get angry and I mean really angry with the NSW government, they are the ones who have caused this, and if you can’t get a Disability Pension get angry, really angry with the Federal government. Write to you local member, state and federal and tell them, It is a start.

  6. This is a joke. My case was heard 3 weeks after a Nabours down the road, his was dodgy. He received 460,000, and bought himself a trail bike, yes with a injured back…….. Mine settled a single Mother of 4, sole income earner, I got 24 000, with ongoing medical, unemployment, treatment and medication. 6 yrs down the track. Too bad so sad. Are they going to get the Nabours money back? So at this rate, if legislation changes. I am devastated, my meds are $89 a mth. Think i might get on an old boat, and drift back onto the shores and become a boat person. Might get a fair go then.

    • Agree. There is zero consistency across the whole workcover system. Which claims get accepted and which get denied seems pot luck. Who get a large payout and who get small is also pot luck. We mightn’t always no all the facts but there are inconsistencies that are often to obvious to ignore. I work for a large gov depart and there are those who unbelievably get workcover claims and manage to stay on forever for ever while others battle to get their claims accepted, or get kicked off workcover within a matter of minutes of their claim being accepted or have to battle to get approval for crucial surgery while others have have no trouble getting approval wacko alternative ‘feel good’ therapies. There is no consistency.
      I have no doubt some injuries are viewed as more acceptable or serious than others and I don’t only mean physical vs psychological. I also have no doubts that there is prejudices and biases in the system towards certain types or group of people, women especially.