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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 March 2015) . . Page.. 825 ..

The ACT is currently the only Australian state or territory that insures its public sector workforce outside its own regulatory jurisdiction. This limits the territory’s scope and ability to adjust the regulatory framework and resourcing of claims services to optimise performance.

The community expects public funds to be used responsibly and in its best interests, and rightly so. Relying on another government to respond to community expectations in this respect increases the risk that limited territory resources will be spent in a way which fails to maximise the benefits to the territory.

As you would be aware, Madam Speaker, the ACT public sector is diverse and covers many frontline service delivery workers, including bus drivers, rangers, paramedics, teachers, as well as a range of office workers. By designing a new workers compensation scheme within the ACT government’s legislative jurisdiction, the territory will have the opportunity to create a scheme which more appropriately reflects the diversity of our workforce and ensures a focus on improving health and wellbeing. This will benefit both the ACT public sector workforce and the wider ACT community.

The government intends to design a workers compensation scheme that will enhance work safety within the ACT public sector by encouraging both workers and employers to take responsibility for injury management. The new scheme’s primary focus will be on promoting recovery and improving return to work outcomes for injured workers. However, it is also important to note that the workers compensation premium for the ACT public sector has risen significantly over the last five years. Increases of this magnitude are not sustainable. Consequently, the new scheme’s focus on supporting workers to return to work and improving outcomes for workers is also expected to drive some cost efficiencies.

There is extensive evidence that demonstrates that work is good for health and wellbeing and, conversely, that work absence, work disability and unemployment can have a negative impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. Contemporary workers compensation schemes direct resources into a worker’s recovery from their injuries in order to assist with a return to work at the earliest practical opportunity. In addition, the new scheme will promote accessibility and transparency by making the claims process easier to navigate and less stressful for injured workers and service providers.

I have met now with many unions, and the unions have pointed out that any new scheme should recognise the health benefits of work and the importance of compensation services having a focus on employees’ recovery and return to work with, of course, the appropriate support to injured workers once they get back to work. I am confident that, by working closely with workers, unions and other key stakeholders, the new ACT public sector workers compensation arrangements will be better suited to the territory’s workforce and will deliver better outcomes both for injured workers and the ACT community.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

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