There were some improvements in government adjustments to the
scheme in 2015 after Stacks and others campaigned against the
harshness and unfairness of the 2012 changes. But injured workers
still suffer an unfair burden and are often treated atrociously by
Now the NSW Parliament's Standing Committee on Law and
Justice has released a review, First review of the workers compensation scheme, that
found the administrative process for injured workers to seek
assistance was "impenetrable" and generated more problems
than it solves.
Workers Compensation Insurance Fund almost $2 billion in
The parliamentary committee found that, despite the scheme being
meant to help injured workers, it was now $1.87 billion in
Claims for compensation by injured workers have fallen
dramatically, from 110,000 in 2011-12, to just over 60,000 in
The Workers Compensation Insurance Fund now has total assets of
around $17.5 billion. The fund's assets are 23 per cent more
than its liabilities.
Six thousand workers to lose benefits after Christmas
The fund is likely to pocket even more money from 27 December,
when an estimated 6,000 injured workers are due to be cut off from
their weekly benefits. This is the date on which workers injured
before the 2012 changes are deemed to have received the allotted
maximum of five years of weekly benefits.
Only a small percentage of workers, those with extremely severe
or catastrophic injuries, will be immune from these unfair
Scheme helps insurance firms, not injured workers
That might suit insurance companies, but it means that thousands
of injured workers are being denied proper compensation and
These billions of dollars should go towards assisting injured
workers, restoring the assistance that was removed in the 2012
The committee found that the government was slow to introduce a
process where registered lawyers could represent injured workers in
a dispute at no cost to the worker.
Obstacles to receiving adequate compensation for workplace
The insurer holds all the cards. The insurer's agent is the
case officer for the injured worker. The insurer picks the doctor
the injured worker sees to assess their level of incapacity. If
challenged, the insurer reviews its own decision. The entire scheme
is geared to making it as difficult as possible for an injured
worker to get adequate compensation.
I support the committee's recommendation for an independent
judicial "one stop shop" for workers compensation
disputes, provided workers have properly trained and experienced
legal representation, and have the right to appeal to a superior
However, the committee's recommendations don't go far
enough to restore what was taken away from the rights of injured
workers more than four years ago.
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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