Comcare News

10 November 2021: Private Employees overtake Public Servants covered by Comcare Scheme

Angela Sdrinis acts for injured workers across all sectors of the scheme. We can provide expert advice with a first consultation free and in most cases on the basis of no win/no fee arrangements.

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11 August 2021: Proposed Amended Comcare Guide to the Assessment of Permanent Injuries will make it harder for injured workers to recover lump sum Compensation.

The Comcare scheme which was introduced in 1988 for Commonwealth employees and later workers of large national companies who were granted Comcare licences, has over the years become increasingly complex. In our experience, the increasing complexity has not been aimed at making the system better but at making it harder for injured workers to recover compensation.

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20 August 2020: Permanent Impairment: When to pursue common law damages v. a lump sum payment

When can an employee pursue common law damages, per section 45 of the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act?

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10 August 2020: Stage 4 restrictions

Even though AS Legal’s Melbourne office is now physically closed due to Stage 4 COVID restrictions, business is continuing as usual. Our reception is still operating as is our info@aslegal.com.au email address for general inquiries.

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2 December 2019 Comcare - Participating in Rehabilitation Programme - Fact Sheet

Comcare (or a relevant licensee) may from time to time, direct an employee to participate in an internal rehabilitation program or to a rehabilitation program operated by an external providers. The purpose of an occupational rehabilitation program is to support employees to maintain work, return to work or to acquire new employment. There may be a degree of apprehension when receiving a notice to participate in a rehabilitation program, especially where an employee is receiving worker’s compensation benefits under the Comcare scheme. This fact sheet will endeavour to answer workers’ frequently asked questions:

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10 October 2019 - Comcare liable for psychological injuries sustained by AFP officer in PNG

Angela Sdrinis Legal has been pursuing a claim for compensation for former Australian Police Officer (AFP) Lizzie Wiggins since 2014. The claim was denied by Comcare and fought in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for 3 years.

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WHAT IS AN EMPLOYER'S OBLIGATION TO OFFER ALTERNATIVE DUTIES TO AN INJURED WORKER?

Many workers who suffer injury in the course of their employment are able to do alternative duties. However many employers can be reluctant to offer injured workers alternative duties even though the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA). Under the SRCA, an employer has specific statutory powers and functions under Part III of the SRC Act. These include arranging for a rehabilitation assessment, determining that a rehabilitation program should be undertaken, arranging with an approved rehabilitation program provider for the provision of a suitable program and ensuring suitable employment is provided.

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MORE NATIONAL EMPLOYERS TO MOVE TO COMCARE SCHEME

On 19 March 2014, the Federal government introduced the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 (Cth) into the House of Representatives.

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WORKERS WITH PSYCHOLOGICAL INJURIES LIKELY TO BE PUNISHED AGAIN.

The Comcare Scheme has been subjected to a number of reviews since Julia Gillard was Minister for Workplace Relations in 2007. A first review commissioned by Julia Gillard was released in 2009. (http://docs.employment.gov.au/node/28616)

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ACCRUAL OF ENTITLEMENTS AND THE COST OF MEDICATION FOR TELSTRA WORKERS UNDER THE COMCARE SCHEME.

Pursuant to s 116 of the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, a worker is entitled to accrue sick leave and annual leave but only during the first 45 weeks of absence following acceptance of liability for a work related injury. Thereafter, if an injured worker is unable to work, only long service leave accrues under the SRCA. Similarly an employer is only required to make superannuation contributions when an employee is physically working.

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SUPERANNUATION AND INCAPACITY BENEFITS UNDER THE COMCARE SCHEME

Sections 20 and 21 of the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (1988) (SRCA) deal with the effect of superannuation on incapacity benefits. Generally speaking, workers who are in receipt of incapacity or loss of earnings benefits under the SRCA should resist termination or defer resignation because once employment is terminated a worker’s superannuation is “paid out” and even if these payments are rolled over, a worker is deemed to have “received” the lump sum benefit and therefore weekly payments are reduced on the basis of the formula in the Act. (see Archer v Comcare (2000) 101 FCR 30).

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14 January 2015

Many workers who are covered by the Comcare scheme will develop injuries over a period of time and it is not always possible to pinpoint the date of injury. For example, workers who gradually develop back pain or overuse injuries may find it hard to precisely identify when the injury occurred. Similarly in claims involving work related psychological injuries, it may be difficult to show when normal distress or upset because of a work incident, actually becomes a psychological injury.

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ABBOTT GOVERNMENT ATTACKS THE RIGHTS OF INJURED WORKERS

A Bill amending the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (the SRCA) has been introduced in Federal Parliament ( Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Improving the Comcare Scheme) Bill 2015 ) the aim of which is to make the Comcare scheme more sustainable according to Workplace Relations Minister Eric Abetz. These are weasel words which actually mean the aim of the Bill is to reduce worker’s entitlements and providing savings to employers.

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Compo win against Australia Post- NWE, loss of overtime, impairment and physiotherapy treatment.

Angela Sdrinis Legal recently successfully ran a case against Australia Post with the worker winning all 6 Applications before the Tribunal. (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/AATA/2015/461.html). Whilst this decision was based on the facts of the case, there are some interesting aspects:

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