As of 1 September 2015, the WorkCover Authority of NSW
(WorkCover) has been abolished.
Under the State Insurance and Care Governance Act 2015
(NSW), WorkCover has been replaced by the following three
Insurance and Care NSW (ICARE);
State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA);
SafeWork NSW is now the responsible body for regulating
WHS laws in NSW.
LEAD-UP TO THE CHANGES
The NSW Government, as part of its election promises, committed
to reviewing the financial position of the workers compensation
scheme.1 On 4 August 2015, the Minister for Finance,
Services and Property (Minister) announced the
'Workers Compensation Reforms' which involve restoring $1
billion in benefits to injured workers, reducing premiums for
businesses as well as establishing three separate and independent
bodies for carrying out the various roles of
The conflicts of interest between its various roles were
previously acknowledged in a review by the NSW Legislative Council
– Standing Committee on Law and Justice.3 In this
review, the conflicts of interest identified were:
management of the workers compensation insurance fund
(Nominal Insurer Function) yet also acting as the
regulator for the workers compensation scheme and reviewer of work
capacity assessments (Insurance Regulator and Work Capacity
advising businesses on WHS matters yet was also acting as the
regulator for the WHS laws.
Whilst measures were in place within WorkCover to address these
conflicts, the changes establish three new bodies essentially
dividing the above functions:
the Nominal Insurer Function will be ICARE's
the Insurance Regulator and Work Capacity Functions will be the
SIRA's responsibility; and
the WHS functions will be SafeWork NSW's responsibility,
despite the conflict.4
ROLE OF SAFEWORK NSW
The 'regulator' under the Work Health and Safety Act
2011 (NSW) is now SafeWork NSW. Notably, there has not just
been a swapping of names – instead, the previous definition
of 'regulator' has been removed and replaced with a new
definition which includes a subtle, yet interesting change
confirming that SafeWork NSW is subject to the control and
direction of the Minister, except in relation to:5
any decision that relates to proceedings for offences under the
WHS laws; or
any decision that relates to a WHS enforceable
The reasons for this change are not known, other than to confirm
the independence of the regulator.
The functions of the regulator have not changed and all WHS
functions have been transferred to SafeWork NSW. All proceedings,
investigations and other enforcement action commenced by or on
behalf of WorkCover are now taken as having been commenced by or on
behalf of SafeWork NSW.7
SafeWork NSW's website (still under construction) can be
viewed by clicking here.
1 Legislative Assembly Second Reading Speech (5 August
2 Media Release, Minister for Finance,
Services and Property (4 August 2015).
3Review of the exercise of the functions of
the WorkCover Authority (Report 54 – September
4A second piece of legislation relevant to the
'Workers Compensation Reforms' is the Workers
Compensation Amendment Act 2015 (NSW), part of which is
waiting for a commencement date to be announced.
5Section 4A has been removed and replaced with
clause 1 of Schedule 2 to the Work Health and Safety Act
6The exception also extends to any advice,
report or recommendation given to the Minister, however this
existed under the now removed sections of the Workplace Injury
Management and Workers Compensation Act 1988
7Clause 3, Division 1, Part 2 of Schedule 4 to
the State Insurance and Care Governance Act 2015
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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