Labor Combines with Libs/Nats to Scuttle Workers Comp Rights

Updated 06/03/2024

The State Labor Government has ignored the recommendations of a Legislative Council inquiry to re-open consultations and instead has struck a deal with the Liberal and National Party Opposition to pass legislation overnight to scuttle the WorkCover scheme.

CPSU said that the Labor Government proceeding to slash access to compensation for workers suffering mental injury and ending support for those workers already with accepted claims after 130 weeks with Liberal support is a "devastating decision".

Karen Batt said, "it just shows how easy it is for politicians to legislate away the vital support needed for those families who have a loved one suffering a work-contributed illness."

Under the changes, workers with stress and burnout claims will no longer be able to access weekly payments from WorkCover and a "whole person impairment" of more than 20% will be required for a worker to continue receiving weekly benefits after two and a half years. 

WorkCover had always been conceived to support workers with physical and mental health injuries despite State Labor running misinformation to confuse their inexperienced backbench MP's.  

The Upper House inquiry which union and employer representatives had made submissions to, has found Government's consultation on the legislation 'inadequate" and the proposed definition of mental injury "not fit for purpose".

The inquiry recommended the Government re-open consultations, have a panel review the WorkCover scheme and consult medical experts.

VTHC Secretary Luke Hilakari was scathing in his criticisms of State Labor stating "that successive State governments have refused to increase premiums for about 20 years."

"Workers are not necessarily suffering from more psychological injuries than we were 15 years ago – but we are seeking treatment for those injuries, which is good news."

"Seeking treatment – especially early intervention – for mental health injuries prevents workers from presenting with a more severe psychological injury, and will reduce the need to seek other services; family violence, alcohol and drug addiction, homelessness, gambling, emergency health, and police services."

"The problems facing WorkCover are complex, but Victorians are entitled to a more sophisticated solution than the Government is offering – that is, slashing support to some of Victoria’s most vulnerable people in their hour of need."