Accident Comp changes put to Victorian Parliament

According to the WorkSafe Victoria website, changes to the Accident Compensation Act were introduced to the Victorian Parliament on 10 December 2009.

WorkSafe is very confident that the changes will be passed.  The summary only talks about “when” the bill is passed.  There is every likelihood it will be passed but the summary has a tinge of arrogance to it.

A summary of the proposed changes is available online.

It all sounds positive and most of it seems about financial improvements.  There are always concerns when a government move from prescriptive- to performance-based practices.  The summary describes the Return-To-Work benefit:

“Prescriptive return to work requirements will be reframed as performance based duties to improve flexibility.”

Usually this sort of change is a red flag for rorts and abuse.

The summary does say that enforcement activities will be increased:

“The Return to Work Inspectorate will have a wider range of tools to improve the effectiveness of compliance activities in relation to return to work obligations, maintaining a fair and consistent application of the law.”

However with the government’s recent spate of administrative mistakes, sloppiness and oversights exposed through the Auditor-General’s reports, accountability in this important area will need to be carefully watched.

The Minister for Workcover, Tim Holding‘s speech to the Bill’s second reading concluded (according to the draft Hansard):

“This bill providers (sic) fairer and better benefits to injured workers and their dependents, recognises that getting injured workers back to work is a central pillar of the scheme, and provides greater transparency for employers in their interactions with the scheme.  The benefit enhancements in this bill are financially responsible, affordable, and consolidate Victoria’s position as the leader in workers compensation in Australia.”

Kevin Jones

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