Page 559 - Week 02 - Thursday, 24 March 2022

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an aspect of the transition project that was not yet complete at the time of the audit. This aspect of the transition project related to an incomplete transfer of funds from the commonwealth to the ACT insurer.

The issue of funds transfer arose because becoming a self-insurer meant that the ACT government would assume responsibility not only for all future public sector workers compensation claims but also for past and existing claims. The ACT government had paid workers compensation premiums to Comcare to cover the cost of those existing workers compensation claims and, at the time of the transfer, not all of those funds had been spent for that purpose.

Consequently, the project to transfer past and existing workers compensation claims also necessitated work to calculate and transfer an amount of money from the commonwealth back to the ACT to help meet the cost of those transferred claims. The process of calculating an expected ultimate cost of still ongoing workers compensation claims was a complex one that was not intended to be complete at the time that the ACT commenced its self-insurance service. Indeed, a part payment was made in 2019 and a process initiated to calculate a final amount in the future. The ACT self-insurance licence was issued with a transitional provision to accommodate that timing.

The Auditor-General’s report provides a comprehensive description of the financial transfer issue, the underpinning policy and legal frameworks, and the timing of the process. It also emphasised that, until such time as the amount was settled and transferred to the ACT government, there would be a residual financial risk to the public sector workers compensation fund. This matter, and the self-insurer’s associated risk management approach, was a particular focus of the public accounts committee inquiry.

Its report No 4 of 2022 makes only one recommendation: to finalise the matter and receive the funds no later than 30 June 2022. I am pleased to inform members that the matter has now been finalised and that in November 2021 the ACT government received the final payment in the form of a workers compensation premium refund. The details of that payment will form part of the public sector workers compensation fund’s accounts, which will be published in its reporting for financial year 2021-22.

Receipt of that payment brought the project to establish the workers compensation self-insurer to a close. Although the transition project is successfully completed, the government’s commitment to continuously improve services for our injured and ill workers is ongoing. The claim and rehabilitation management systems that underpin the workers compensation self-insurance are independently audited annually against a set of national criteria.

I can inform members that the most recent audits of these systems have found a 100 per cent compliance rate. During the period since self-insurance has commenced, the ACT government has introduced an immediate medical and rehabilitation service, which means that as soon as a workers compensation claim is made, injured workers commence receiving unlimited reasonable and necessary medical treatment and rehabilitation support.

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