South Australia’s Workers’ Compensation Reform

The South Australian Government recently announced that the current SA WorkCover scheme will be rebadged and replaced with a new Return to Work focus. In SA return to work outcomes are lower when compared to other jurisdictions with employers paying a higher premium. As a result, the new Return to Work scheme legislation was developed, approved and will be effective from 1st July 2015.
The Return to Work scheme brings about the biggest changes to the workers’ compensation environment in South Australia in more than 25 years. As part of the changes, ReturnToWorkSA has replaced WorkCoverSA to implement and manage the Return to Work scheme.

The scheme is intended to balance the needs of workers with those of employers whose premiums fund the scheme. Changes on how employer’s premiums are calculated are designed to be less expensive for businesses. The new scheme is underpinned by early intervention and customised services to workers injured at work, and their employers.

The new Return to Work scheme recognises the important step that returning to work has in a worker’s recovery. People with a work injury may receive income support during the first two years after their work injury and the costs of reasonable and necessary medical treatment and return to work services during a further period of 12 months after income support ceases.
Workers who have been assessed as seriously injured (30 per cent or more whole person impairment) may receive income support to retirement age, as well as lifetime reasonable and necessary treatment, and care and support. Seriously injured workers may decide to pursue a claim under common law provisions.

In relation to dispute management, whilst there are no major deviations from the current processes, going forward, disputes will not be managed by the Workers Compensation Tribunal. The introduction of the New South Australian Tribunal (SAET) will be solely responsible for their resolution.

In a nut shell, the new scheme is based around these key principles:

  • a strong focus on early intervention, targeted return to work services and provision of retraining (where required)
  • recognition that workers who are seriously injured require different services and support to those workers who are not seriously injured
  • clearly articulated rights and obligations for all parties: workers, employers and the Corporation
  • a simple and efficient dispute resolution process with an improved framework including clear boundaries and requirements for evidence-based decision making.

For registered employers, a more customised approach will be provided with claims agent adopting a more proactive approach to case management. Mobile injury management services including case management will be implemented allowing for personalised communication and support within early intervention and return to work.

For Self Insured employers, the RTW Act formalises service standard requirement and delegation consistent with the Code of Practice for Self Insured employers. The new scheme now allows for a greater period of registration from 3 to 5 years if the Self Insured employer is able to demonstrate compliance with the code including performance standards for WHS and injury management.

Does your organisation understand how the changes will impact on your injury management processes and systems?

How can your organisation maximise the benefit of achieving and sustaining a 5 year renewal against the new evaluation performance standard?

WCD have the expertise and experience to assist your transition into the new scheme and guide you through the new era of evaluation.

Email – Steve Crump, Practice Manager South Australia
or Call on  08 8229 5302