“If you wanted a case study in a bureaucracy that ensures vulnerable people who need assistance can’t get it you would establish the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme: you would exclude legal representation, you would empower insurers and you would limit benefits. That’s exactly what we’ve got in NSW”, said MP david Shoebridge during the first day of the Parliamentary inquiry. We couldn’t agree more and are extremely grateful for David Shoebridge’s relentless battle for NSW injured workers. Likewise, we take our hats off to the Injured Workers Support Network!
WorkCover NSW again fails the test, prioritising profits over the protection of injured workers
If you wanted a case study in a bureaucracy that ensures vulnerable people who need assistance can’t get it you would establish the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme: you would exclude legal representation, you would empower insurers and you would limit benefits. That’s exactly what we’ve got in NSW.
Recent revelations from WorkCover have shown:
(a) That it is taking WorkCover four times longer than the legally allowed 30 days in which to finalise merit reviews filed by injured workers
(b) That an amputated foot is not classified as a ‘serious injury’ under the reformed scheme, and
(c) That WorkCover has created delegated legislation (legislation created by the Government that does not need to go through Parliament) for the scheme that refers to a guideline document for insurers that has never existed.
The law requires WorkCover to resolve injured worker’s merit review claims within 30 days, but on Friday Gary Jeffrey, General Manager of WorkCover’s workers compensation insurance division, admitted that WorkCover is in fact taking four months in the processing of merit reviews. To add insult to injury the delay means many injured workers will forever lose entitlements to a portion of their income support as a direct result of WorkCover’s failure.
The inquiry also heard that the scheme has gone from a $4 billion deficit, to a $309 million surplus. One of the ways the scheme has achieved this is by harsh benefit cuts, such that the new legislation does not recognise an amputated foot – just like the case of Dwayne Passfield and Kris Carroll – as meeting the threshold of a “serious injury.” Prior to the reforms an injury as severe as an amputated foot would see an injured worker receive lifelong medical benefits and income support until their retirement age. Now the vast majority of workers receive at most five years of income support and their medical benefits cease 12 months after their last income support payment.
Most baffling of all of the revelations from WorkCover was it’s inability to explain how they created legislation that requires insurers to comply with a guide that has never existed. You can see these matter further developed in the ABC 7:30 report piece below.
The Government needs to admit that their workers compensation reforms have not worked. They have comprehensively failed at protecting the rights of injured workers. In the name of reform and change injured workers have instead faced a cruel and unfair system that has deliberately favoured insurers and given the scheme multiple opportunities for avoiding compensation payouts.
The workers compensation scheme in NSW is broken and no parliamentarian, no person of conscience, should let these laws go unchallenged. I certainly wont.
- Are workers’ compensation changes favouring insurance companies?
The first day of a Parliamentary hearing into recent workers compensation reforms hears victims, lawyers and doctors saying the new scheme unfairly favours insurance companies, who are using new guidelines to cut costs.
Watch the video here: ABC News and check out workcover’s representatives….
- WorkCover NSW changes disadvantage amputees, inquiry hears
- Two senior workcover NSW managers to ‘retire’
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