WorkCover Bill is More a Demolition than Modernisation

Updated 13/12/2023

The Bill if passed will preclude most mental injury claims from being accepted and CPSU strongly opposes the changes as it is not a modernisation of the WorkCover Scheme as the title suggests.  It is more of a demolition of the right of workers’ who have sustained an injury, disease, or illness in the course of employment to claim Workers’ compensation.

CPSU contends that the changes proposed in the Bill, all affect injured workers whose injury has been caused by work, either by denying access to the scheme, or by imposing harsh criteria on workers to remain on the scheme.

CPSU appeared before the Legislative Council Economy and Infrastructure Committee inquiry into the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (WorkCover Scheme Modernisation) Bill 2023 to speak to our submission.

The Victorian government's proposed changes to the WorkCover legislation, which require the injury to be predominantly arising out of or in the course of employment through single or multiple traumatic events and have a clinically significant outcome, will be detrimental to workers claiming WorkCover for mental injuries.

The changes will create significant barriers for workers seeking compensation for legitimate work-related mental health issues.

One of the main concerns with this proposed change is the requirement for the injury to be predominantly caused by employment through traumatic events.

Mental injuries often result from prolonged exposure to stressful or toxic work environments, rather than a single or multiple traumatic events.

By placing emphasis on traumatic events and excluding work-related stress and burnout, the proposed legislation overlooks the impact of ongoing workplace factors that contribute to the development of mental health conditions.

This narrow focus on traumatic events will exclude a significant number of workers from obtaining compensation who have experienced cumulative stressors or chronic workplace conditions that have led to their mental injury.

Unjust Denial of Compensation

By implementing the proposed criteria, workers with legitimate work-related mental injuries will be unjustly denied compensation.

The emphasis on traumatic events as the predominant cause of mental injury overlooks the impact of chronic stress, toxic work environments, or other non-traumatic factors that contribute to mental health issues.

As a result, workers who have developed mental injuries due to ongoing workplace conditions will not meet the proposed criteria and will be denied the compensation they deserve.

The proposed changes to the WorkCover legislation in Victoria, particularly regarding the criteria for mental injury claims, raise serious concerns about fairness, inclusivity, and the protection of workers' rights.

The potential rejection of a significant percentage of claims based on the proposed criteria is not only unjust but also goes against the spirit of
recognising and addressing the diverse and nuanced nature of mental health challenges in the workplace.

CPSU urges a more comprehensive and compassionate approach to ensure that all workers receive the support and compensation they need and deserve.