The Tribunal considered whether Ms Scuderi was entitled to
receive compensation for household services, including leg waxing,
toe nail clipping and delivery of groceries.
Ms Scuderi was 43 years old at the time of the proceedings. She
had commenced work with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia on
leaving school in year 10. She remained employed by the Bank until
she was retrenched on 15 September 2012.
On 1 May 1990 Ms Scuderi injured her back while lifting a bag of
coins. Liability for the injury was accepted pursuant to section 14
of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988
(Cth) (the SRC Act).
Ms Scuderi's evidence was that due to her injury, she
remained restricted as to the activities she could perform. Ms
Scuderi sought compensation from Comcare, pursuant to section 29 of
the SRC Act, for the cost of assistance with the activities which
she claimed she had difficulty doing.
Ms Scuderi sought review of three decisions, two of which
related to section 29 of the SRC Act – firstly, whether she
was entitled to compensation for household services; and secondly,
whether she was entitled to receive compensation for household and
attendant care services (toenail cutting, leg waxing and the
delivery of groceries).
Section 29(1) of the SRC Act states that where, as a result of
injury, an employee has established that they require assistance
with household services, Comcare is liable to pay reasonable
compensation for those services. Pursuant to section 29(2) and (4),
Comcare should have regard to matters such as the degree of the
employee's injury and the extent to which these services were
provided to the person prior to the injury.
Expert evidence provided to the Tribunal suggested that Ms
Scuderi could manage chores with the use of assistive equipment
which had already been provided by Comcare, with help from her
husband and by pacing herself. The Tribunal found that Mrs Scuderi
did not satisfy the factors in s 29(2) and was not entitled to
Ms Scuderi claimed that she was not able to cut her toenails due
to her injury. Comcare had previously approved the purchase of a
long-handled toe nail cutter to assist. Expert evidence suggested
that she was capable of performing the task using the tool. The
Tribunal therefore affirmed the decision of Comcare.
Ms Scuderi claimed that waxing her own legs was difficult. The
expert evidence indicated that it was difficult because of the
difficulty she had in flexing forward. The Tribunal varied the
decision of Comcare and decided that she should be provided with
money for laser treatment for her legs.
Due to Ms Scuderi's injury, it was recommended by her doctor
that she only lift weight to a maximum of 10 kilograms. The
Tribunal affirmed the decision of Comcare, reasoning that Ms
Scuderi could manage her shopping with the assistance of her
children, by shopping at regular intervals or by paying for
When considering a claim under section 29, the relevant
circumstances of the applicant should be taken into account before
a decision is made. In certain circumstances, the provision of
assistive aids may be sufficient, thus preventing the need for the
costly, ongoing provision of household or attendant services.
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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An employer's duty is very high and can include engaging experts to inspect things such as stairways for latent defects.
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