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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 March 2015) . . Page.. 826 ..

MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, what alternatives is the government considering, regarding a new workers compensation scheme for ACT public sector workers?

MR GENTLEMAN: The government is committed to ensuring that five design principles underpin the new scheme, namely: one, enhancing work safety by encouraging all parties to take responsibility for injury management; two, promoting recovery and return to work by raising awareness of the health benefits of work, focusing compensation services on recovery and return to work and supporting employer-worker mutual obligations on return to work; three, guaranteeing quality long-term compensation and care and support for seriously injured workers; four, driving cost efficiencies by making the scheme more efficient and focusing on return to work outcomes; and, five, promoting accessibility and transparency to make the claims process easier and less stressful for ACT public sector workers and service providers.

To assist the consultation process, the government has circulated a possible scheme design based on these principles. Like all workers compensation schemes, the proposed new scheme provides income support, medical care and rehabilitation services to help to restore workers’ earning capacity.

The payment structures under the proposal are designed to target compensation services towards recovery and return to work. The proposed new scheme is a hybrid approach in which workers with serious injuries will receive lifetime cover for medical, allied health and rehabilitation services. They will also be entitled to incapacity payments for lost income up to retirement age.

For workers who do not meet the serious injury threshold, compensation benefits, medical treatment and rehabilitation services will be subject to time limits. In addition, continuing receipt of payments will require active participation in the return to work process. The proposed changes will not have any retrospective application. The new scheme will only apply to public sector claims for injuries that occur after the commencement of the new scheme.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, are public sector workers being consulted about these changes?

MR GENTLEMAN: Yes. Thank you, Dr Bourke, for the question. The ACT government values stakeholder input, and public sector workers and other stakeholders have been invited to participate in broad consultation on the proposed scheme design.

An announcement about the government’s decision to exit the Comcare scheme and establish a new scheme was made to public sector workers via the Head of Service message on 26 February. Detailed information about the features of the consultation draft scheme design has been made available to the public sector workforce via the intranet site.

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