In 2016 the Victorian ombudsman conducted an investigation into the workcover insurers’handing of workcover claims. The findings were scathing. In particularly the Ombudsman found that Victoria’s workers compensation scheme had failed some particularly vulnerable people. It has now come to our attention that the Vic Ombudsman is to re-investigate insurers’ handling of workers compensation claims and WorkSafe oversight.
Thursday 7 June 2018
Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass has begun a follow up investigation to her previous Investigation into the management of complex workers compensation claims and WorkSafe oversight.
In that 2016 investigation, she found that Victoria’s workers compensation scheme had failed some particularly vulnerable people.
“Two years ago, we found cases in which WorkSafe agents were working the system to delay and deny seriously injured workers the financial compensation to which they were entitled,” Ms Glass said.
“Given the distressing nature of what we found in 2016, it is incumbent upon me to examine whether the situation has improved for workers with complex injuries and conditions,” she said. “As I said at the time, the cases we investigated are not merely files, numbers or claims; they involved people’s lives, and the human cost should never be forgotten.”
Following her 2016 investigation, Ms Glass made 17 recommendations for change, including around financial incentives associated with the termination of claims and the use of Independent Medical Examiners in managing claims.
A key recommendation was for WorkSafe to take greater responsibility to ensure quality decision-making by its agents. Her follow up investigation will examine whether WorkSafe’s implementation of the recommendations has changed agent practices and decision making, and improved the effectiveness of its oversight.
“While it is pleasing that both WorkSafe and the Government have accepted the recommendations addressed to them in my 2016 report, we need to understand if they are making a positive difference to the problems identified two years ago. If not, we need to identify what will.”
The Victorian Ombudsman continues to receive a large number of complaints from the public about WorkSafe and its agents, with more than 660 complaints received so far in 2017-18 and a similar number in the previous financial year.