In Aunela and Telstra Corporation Ltd  AATA 153,
the Administrative Appeals Tribunal found that it had jurisdiction
to consider an additional injury to that which was considered in
the reviewable decision. The Tribunal found that reports sent to
the respondent over a number of years may represent sufficient
notice under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation
Act 1988 (SRC Act).
FACTS AND DISCUSSION
The employee had an accepted claim for a soft tissue injury to
his right elbow and left ankle arising from a workplace injury on
19 April 1993. On 16 March 2006, Telstra determined the effects of
the compensable injury had ceased. The decision was affirmed and
appealed to the Tribunal. A jurisdictional hearing was listed to
determine whether the Tribunal could also consider whether the
applicant had a compensable psychiatric injury. Senior Member
Constance helpfully set out several principles applicable to the
question of the Tribunal's jurisdiction:
There is no basis to distinguish between an initial injury and
a consequential or secondary injury; compensation is payable in
accordance with the Act in respect of each injury suffered by an
employee (Canute v Comcare  HCA 47).
In determining whether a new injury is being claimed 'a
broad, generous and practical interpretation should be made'
(Abrahams v Comcare (2006) 93 ALD 147).
Evidence before the Tribunal may establish a valid claim has
been made notwithstanding the lack of a formal claim (Buhr v
Comcare  FCA 575).
The SRC Act provides a three tier decision making process where
the Tribunal's role is limited to reviewing a 'reviewable
decision' (Lees v Comcare  FCA 753).
The powers and discretions available to the Tribunal in
reviewing a decision are limited to those available to the
determining authority at the stage of making the reviewable
When reviewing a decision the Tribunal has before it all
matters put before the decision maker as part of the claim for
compensation (Fuad and Telstra Corporation Limited, Re
 AATA 1182).
In considering the matters before it the Tribunal is not
limited to consideration of the case argued by the applicant.
The Tribunal set out a number of medical reports provided to
Telstra over the years, which considered a diagnosis of a
psychiatric condition as a sequela to the workplace accident.
Senior Member Constance found that the reports constituted written
notice of the injury and a claim for compensation under the SRC
One report was singled out as having indicated that Telstra
treated such a claim as having been made, as it showed that it must
have asked the doctor to consider whether the employee had a
diagnosed psychiatric condition. Senior Member Constance also drew
attention to the phrase used in the determination and reviewable
decision that 'all available medical and other
evidence' had been considered. Senior Member Constance
noted that the evidence before the decision maker included the
medical reports in which a psychiatric condition had been diagnosed
and, following Fuad, it was held that the Tribunal has
jurisdiction to consider such a claim.
SIGNIFICANCE TO EMPLOYERS
If an employer is in receipt of reports or correspondence that
an employee suffers from an injury:
It may be taken as a valid notice and claim for compensation
under the SRC Act.
The Tribunal may have jurisdiction to consider the claim even
if it has not been considered in a determination or reviewable
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and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional
advice. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation
to any particular circumstances and no liability will be accepted
for any losses incurred by those relying solely on this
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