Fair compensation for work injuries ‘almost impossible’ if NSW scheme issues not resolved

Issues within the operation of the NSW Workers’ Compensation Scheme must be resolved otherwise it will become almost impossible for injured workers to receive fair compensation, according to the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

Spokesperson for the ALA, Mr Shane Butcher, will today tell the Inquiry into the 2020 Review of the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme that elements of the Scheme are inherently unfair and are limiting the ability of workers to recover and return to the workforce.

“A person who is injured at work should be entitled to have the costs of their medical expenses covered as long as it is reasonably necessary,” said Mr Butcher. “Unfortunately, the way the current system operates locks injured workers out of benefits for arbitrary and capricious reasons.

“We consider it inherently unfair that we can look at an injured worker and tell them that they can no longer receive medical treatment, or no longer receive weekly payments, not because these things are not necessary or because they are not needed, but because their particular injury does not rate high when applying the tests set out in a book.”

According to the ALA there are a number of areas within the current scheme requiring urgent attention and reform, and these are outlined in the organisation’s submission to the review.

“There are systemic failings in the system which are negatively impacting injured workers. However, we were further shocked to hear the claims of unethical conduct and financial mismanagement at icare exposed in the media last week.

“These allegations must now also be examined closely by this Committee. Unethical behaviour cannot be tolerated.

“It was very concerning to hear about multimillion-dollar contracts allegedly being awarded with zero scrutiny at the same time as injured workers are being dragged through distressing dispute processes that ultimately undermine their ability to recover.

“The priority must be to ensure that anyone who is injured at work receives the support they need and fair compensation to look after themselves and their families.”

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