Are workers compensation reforms harming vulnerable Australians?

Published 26 Oct 2018

In 2012, the NSW Government overhauled the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (section 39).

Since its implementation in 2017, many Australians have been left vulnerable after losing their weekly workers compensation benefits.

What changes were made?

The amendment that has caused the most significant stir relates to the need for a whole person impairment (WPI) calculation above 20 per cent.

Under the new regulations, workers injured before 1 October 2012 whose injuries do not exceed this level are no longer entitled to receive weekly payments after 260 weeks. These new changes also affect workers who have made a claim after 1 October 2012. Failure to exceed a WPI of 20 per cent will also result in no weekly benefits.

Furthermore, the amended act also plans to cut back on covering medical expenses for those who fail to meet the 30 per cent WPI cap after one year. Examples of 30 per cent or more WPI include:

  • Fracture to the cervical spine.
  • Amputation of all fingers except the thumb.
  • Neck injury that results in severe upper extremity impairment.

These levels of WPI are extremely hard to reach, meaning that many Australians living with severe injuries that just miss the mark are missing out on the chance of financial stability and protection.

What are the repercussions?

Since rolling out in late 2017, the Workers Compensation Act 1987 has resulted in more than 3,000 Australians losing their weekly workers compensation benefits. Of this significant sum, six people have reportedly died as a result of losing their regular payments. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed, however it is believed one of the individuals had previously been reported to the emergency services as at risk of self harm. Since the reports of the death, NSW Labor have revealed the state insurance regulator had anticipated that its policy may cause self harm or fatalities.

Unfortunately, despite not meeting criteria, those under the 20 per cent WPI bracket may still suffer with debilitating injuries and may not have the ability to work because of them. Without regular weekly compensation, these people may struggle to stay financially afloat, which can increase the risk of depression and self harm.

If you're concerned about your entitlements as a result of a work injury, get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners today. We can work through your case and help you submit a claim for compensation.