The Government Flags to ‘Modernise’ the Comcare Scheme

WCD Workers CompensationThe federal government has announced its intention to “modernise” the federal workers compensation system after receiving the results of its review of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (the SRC Act). The Gillard Government commissioned the review to assess whether injured workers covered by the federal scheme were receiving the care needed to recover quickly and return to work as soon as possible. “The Gillard Government is determined to create a best practice workers compensation scheme in the Commonwealth jurisdiction”, Mr Shorten said. “It is vital that the Comcare Scheme is focused on early and effective intervention to promote recovery of injured workers. It is also critical that employers and Comcare are proactive in supporting injured workers from the point of injury, during rehabilitation and when they return to work.”

Mr Shorten said that the review, which was carried out by Dr Allan Hawke AC and Peter Hanks QC, found a number of areas where the SRC Act and Comcare Scheme are working well but also found opportunities to “modernise” its operation. “Modernisation would bolster the focus on early intervention and rehabilitation for the benefit of workers, employers and the overall performance of the scheme”, the government said.

The report sets out 33 recommendations by Dr Hawke to improve the performance, governance and funding framework of the Comcare scheme and 104 recommendations from Mr Hanks to update and improve the SRC Act and address anomalies in the current legislation. “The report provides a range of ideas on ways to improve the operation of the Comcare Scheme while ensuring benefits remain fair and equitable for injured workers, especially those more seriously injured and incapacitated”, Mr Shorten said. “Over the next period, I will be consulting with scheme stakeholders on the recommendations. These consultations will help inform our response to the Review to build a strong and effective rehabilitation and compensation system for workers in the Comcare Scheme.” The SRC Act and Comcare Scheme cover Australian Government workers, employees of the ACT Government, as well as companies with a federal self-insurer’s licence.

REF: CCH 15th April.