In most Australian states, firefighters who are diagnosed of suffering with particular types of cancer are automatically “deemed” to have developed the condition by reason of their job. Unfortunately and tragically this legislation is not currently in place in Victoria, even though there is increased community support for such recognition.
Victorian firefighter begs for workers comp access
Interestingly a recent Victorian County Court decision has opened the door for welders to access workers compensation for cancer caused by their work duties. This legal decision is believed to be the first in Australia to make the connection between the development of certain cancers and the many toxic substances that welders are exposed to during their work everyday.
But, tragically this is not the case for our Victorian firefighters who develop certain cancers from being exposed to various toxic fumes and substances by reason of their duties.
In most states in Australia, firefighters who are diagnosed with certain types of cancer are automatically “deemed” to have developed the condition by reason of their job. Unfortunately, this legislation is not currently in place in Victoria for firefighters .
The County Court decision re the welder however, clearly highlights the need to consider what role employment may have played in exposing a worker to carcinogenic material.
We believe that, as is the case in the welder’s court decision, if a connection can be made between a worker’s employment (duties) and the development of the cancer, the affected ill worker (and their families) should be able to access workers compensation, including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering damages.
Government says no to WorkCover for firefighter with cancer
9 News | 1 Sept 2014
To watch the article’s video, click here>>
Week by week is how firefighter Scott Morrison lives now – his cancer is aggressive and he does not know his fate.
He fought off non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2002 and walked the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Great Walk to Bejing to raise money.
But Scott was then diagnosed again, this time with prostate and skin cancer.
“There are times there when I felt like taking my own life, the pain you go through from the treatment,” he said.
Scott believes 35 years in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, breathing in toxic fumes and smoke, is what has caused his illness.
When his career began there were far less protective measures for firefighters than there are now.
But he can’t get WorkCover.
“You have to use your own sick leave, your holiday pay, your long service to go through this and I don’t think that’s right,” he said.
His firefighting mates have had to donate their own leave to help out.
The state government said it is still waiting for scientific proof that certain cancers are specifically caused on the job, despite preliminary advice specifically from Monash University, saying there is enough evidence to act now. (and…despite the fact that firefighters are eligible for workers comp for cancers in other Australian states!)
Such a move would be immensely helpful to the Morrison family, who struggle to even cover the cost of parking at the hospital.