Open Channel: Campaign to Protect Injured Workers Launched

Updated 22/04/2016

Campaign to Protect Injured Workers Launched -

In December 2007 the Victorian government announced a review of the Accident Compensation Act 1985 to be conducted by Peter Hanks QC. The review has now concluded, and Peter Hanks QC is expected to provide the Minister for WorkCover Tim Holding with his recommendations this month. If the recommendations are accepted by the Victorian government they will significantly disadvantage injured workers including CPSU members.

Peter Hanks QC recommends that psychological/psychiatric injuries not be accepted if the cause of injury is because the Employer has taken ‚Äö?Ñ??a reasonable management action‚Äö?Ñ??.

Whilst this recommendation may appear to be innocuous, it will significantly reduce the number of claims, of injured workers with stress related injuries, being accepted.

The Accident Compensation Act 1985 was amended by Jeff Kennett in 1992 to exclude many stress related claims if they were caused by ‚Äö?Ñ??a reasonable action taken in a reasonable manner by the Employer to transfer, demote, discipline, redeploy, retrench or dismiss the worker; or a decision of the Employer, on reasonable grounds, not to award or to provide promotion, reclassification or transfer of, or leave of absence or benefit in connection with the employment, to the worker‚Äö?Ñ??.

This created a fault system for workers who lodged claims for a stress related injury.

The Hanks recommendation goes much further than the Kennett provision and in practice will exclude most claims for stress related injuries being accepted as a WorkCover claim.

Peter Hanks will also recommend that before a workers claim for a stress related injury is considered, the claim will be suspended and the worker will have to undertake ‚Äö?Ñ??mediation or workplace counselling‚Äö?Ñ??.

Currently once a claim form and certificate has been provided to the Employer the VWA s agent has 38 days to make a decision on liability for the injury, this will no longer be the case for workers suffering a stress related injury, if this recommendation is adopted by the Victorian government.

Another major recommendation relates to how disputes are dealt with.

Peter Hanks recommends that the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (ACCS) be stripped of the minimalistic powers that currently exist, and that the ACCS become a ‚Äö?Ñ??mediation service‚Äö?Ñ?? with no power to recommend or direct that weekly payments and medical and like expenses be paid.

Under this recommendation workers will be required to proceed to the Court to have their claim determined, this will require that the injured worker engage a solicitor and pay the costs associated with legal action.

There are a number of other serious detrimental recommendations that Peter Hanks will make to government. Not surprisingly many State Government agencies lead the ladder of worst performing Employers in Victoria when it comes to their WorkCover record.

CPSU along with the Trades Hall Council are campaigning for beneficial change and a campaign web site has been established.

CPSU members can read about the Hanks recommendations and send an email to all the ALP members of Parliament urging that the government fix WorkCover and make it work for workers.

CPSU State Secretary

13 August 2008

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