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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 February 2016) . . Page.. 408 ..


MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Planning and Land Management, Minister for Racing and Gaming and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (11.57), in reply: I thank members for their comments during this debate, and I table a revised explanatory statement for the bill.

I advise members that we have looked into some of the concerns from the opposition in regard to clause 5, and I advise the Assembly that this particular clause relates to harmonising these laws with other jurisdictions. In relation to 192A(3) I advise that inspectors wear their identity tags at all times as practice. This is to harmonise, as I said, with those other jurisdictions but also to advise members of the public that such identity tags are recognised and are used and produced when required. I also advise that in regard to 192A(4), in regard to the penalty, this is a part of federal criminal code and the punishment set out at that federal level.

The bill is called the Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2015 and is to improve and to modernise the territory’s private sector workers compensation scheme. The bill will assist injured workers to return to their employment as quickly and safely as possible and will enable WorkSafe inspectors to perform their compliance and enforcement role more effectively. Employers in the ACT have a legal obligation to maintain a current workers compensation policy, declare the correct wage and industry classification information to insurers, ensure that injured workers are paid appropriately and provide assistance to injured workers to support an early, safe and durable return to work, offering alternative suitable duties where possible.

It is this last obligation to which I take the Assembly now. The bill, in part, seeks to improve the fairness and effectiveness of the private sector workers compensation scheme through the establishment of a formal return-to-work coordinator requirement for large and high risk employers. This initiative recognises that what happens in the workplace when a worker attempts to return to work following injury is one of the most important determinants of outcomes for workers and their employer. An injured worker’s success in remaining at work or returning to work following injury is, by and large, determined by the delivery of early and effective medical and rehabilitation support, effective claims management, development of an effective workplace-based rehabilitation program and cooperation, collaboration and consultation between all parties.

Extensive Australian and international evidence has demonstrated three factors, in particular, which can significantly reduce work absence after injury. They are early contact with the worker by the workplace, a work accommodation officer with the aim of reducing or eliminating workplace barriers to enable an injured employee to return to work, and contact between healthcare providers and the workplace. An appropriately trained return-to-work coordinator can provide for each of these factors.

Return-to-work coordinators can play a crucial role in coordinating all parties, implementing a workplace rehabilitation program and helping injured workers cope with the life impact of an injury and getting back on the job. They assist in the preparation and implementation of return to work plans for the injured worker; they assist injured workers to remain at work or return to work as soon as it is safe to do so


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