The Worker’s Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 was introduced on 12 August 2020. The Bill has been referred to the Education, Employment and Small Business Committee.
First responders are often exposed to very traumatic events, including life threatening events. They play an important role in protecting and serving the community. The mental health of such workers is at the forefront of the proposed legislative amendment.
The Bill defines ‘first responder’ and ‘eligible employee’ and looks to introduce a presumption of injury Specifically, if these employees are diagnosed by a Psychiatrist as having post traumatic stress disorder (‘PTSD’), for the purposes of an entitlement to compensation , the PTSD is taken to be an injury. The employee’s employment must still be a significant contributing factor to injury.
It is proposed that the presumption of injury will apply to applications for compensation lodged on or after commencement of the Bill.
The proposed presumptive laws will not change workers’ compensation entitlements but instead provide a different pathway for certain claims to access the scheme by reversing the onus of proof. PTSD will be deemed to be work-related, unless there is evidence to the contrary.
It is anticipated that the Bill will become law thus acknowledging the significant role first responders play in the community and the need to protect their mental health and well-being.