In Gallas and Comcare  AATA 198, the
Administrative Appeals Tribunal considered a case where an employee
was arguing that a recurrence of an injury should be considered a
new injury under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation
Act 1988 (SRC Act) as opposed to a continuation of a previous
claim under the Compensation (Commonwealth Government
Employees) Act 1971 (1971 Act).
Mr Gallas, a meat inspector with the Australian Quarantine
Inspection Service (AQIS) since 1977, had previously contracted
acute Q fever which resulted in episodic periods of incapacity
since 5 October 1980. This claim was accepted under the 1971
Subsequently in 2001 and in 2002, Mr Gallas suffered from post-Q
fever fatigue syndrome, a secondary condition arising from his
primary infection in October 1980. On both occasions Mr Gallas
claimed compensation under the SRC Act. Comcare accepted liability
for the 2001 claim, however, for the 2002 claim, Comcare determined
that it was not a new claim, but a continuation of his previous
claim under the 1971 Act for which liability had been accepted.
The determination in relation to liability for the 2002 claim
was affirmed on reconsideration. By review of own motion of the
determination in relation to liability for the 2001 claim, pursuant
to section 62(1) of the SRC Act, it was found that the secondary
condition should be included as part of the injury for which
liability had been accepted by Comcare with a deemed date of injury
of 5 October 1980.
The practical effect on Mr Gallas was that compensation for the
2001 and 2002 claims fell to be determined not under the SRC Act
but instead under the 1971 Act, which was less beneficial in
The Tribunal considered whether the episodes of acute symptoms
suffered by Mr Gallas in 2001 and 2002 constituted injuries as well
as whether the ailment or aggravation had been contributed to in a
material degree by the applicant's employment.
The Tribunal considered whether the claim for an injury was in
fact an injury under the SRC Act. Section 4(1) of the SRC Act
defines 'injury' to include 'a disease suffered by an
employee'. 'Disease' means any ailment suffered by an
employee or the aggravation of any such ailment, being an ailment
or an aggravation that was contributed to in a material degree by
the employee's employment.
The Tribunal then proceeded to consider the definitions of
'ailment' and 'aggravation' under the SRC Act. The
Tribunal gave the word 'ailment' its ordinary English
meaning, which was noted to include 'a morbid affection of
the body or mind; indisposition'. The dictionary
definition of 'morbid' was stated to include
'affected by, proceeding from, or characteristic of
disease'. The dictionary definition of
'indisposition' was stated to include 'the state of
being indisposed; a slight illness'.
Due to the width of the definition of 'ailment' the
Tribunal found that the 2001 and 2002 episodes each constituted an
indisposition and as such were both an 'ailment' for the
purposes of the definition of 'disease' in section 4(1) of
the SRC Act.
The Tribunal determined that:
Each of the 2001 and 2002 episodes of severe symptoms
constituted an aggravation of an ailment, namely the pre-existing
post-Q fever fatigue syndrome, for the purposes of paragraph (b) of
the definition of 'disease' in section 4(1) of the SRC
The 2001 and 2002 episodes were contributed to in a material
degree by the employee's employment for the purposes of the SRC
The Tribunal set aside the decisions under review and concluded
that Mr Gallas was entitled to compensation under the SRC Act for
the injuries which he sustained in 2001 and 2002.
This decision demonstrates the broad nature of what can
constitute an 'injury' under the SRC Act in particular due
to the inclusion of the word 'ailment' in the definition of
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