New legislation to improve ACT’s workers’ compensation scheme introduced

This week, the ACT Government introduced legislation to give effect to several reforms to the Territory’s workers’ compensation scheme.

According to Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Rachel Stephen-Smith, the amendments to the Workers Compensation Act 1951 and the Workers’ Compensation Regulation 2002 will significantly increase the compensation available to a worker’s family in the event they suffer a fatal workplace injury; modernise and expand the list of acknowledged employment-related diseases; incorporate the Commonwealth’s pension age to make sure there is no gap in coverage for workers injured in the ACT; and introduce fines for employers who will fail to pay workers’ compensation when required to do so.

“In recognition of the low level of statutory compensation currently available to the families of workers who suffer a fatal work-related injury, the ACT Government has decided to significantly increase the lump sum death entitlement amount to align with the Commonwealth’s Comcare Scheme (from $ 216,000 to $ 528,000),” said Ms. Stephen-Smith.

“In doing so, weekly compensation to a dependent child will double (from $ 72 to $ 145) as will the amount available to assist with funeral expenses (from $ 5800 to $ 11,600).

“Aligning with Comcare means both public and private sector in the ACT will be entitled to the same level of compensation,” she said. (Read SafetyCulture report: Comcare welcomes Act Government’s decision to stay in the federal workers’ compensation scheme).

Ms. Stephen-Smith also said they are making more changes to modernise the scheme.

“For example, the adoption of Safe Work Australia’s list of occupational diseases acts upon the latest peer-reviewed scientific evidence. Diseases such as Hepatitis A, B, and C, HIV/AIDS, noise-induced hearing loss, lung cancer as a result of exposure to diesel engine exhaust and skin cancer from solar radiation will now be included on the list.

“If a worker or former worker has a disease on the list and they can demonstrate that they performed a type of work that is associated with that disease, the claim will be accepted unless the insurer demonstrates that work was not a substantial contributing factor.

“In response to the news some employers are refusing to pay workers’ compensation to injured workers when required to do so, the Government has introduced the ability for the Regulator to impose fines on these employers,” she said.

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