Ad-hoc revisions to the Return to Work SA scheme, along with flawed processes and inconsistencies in delivery, are having long-term and negative impacts on people injured at work, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance.
“We urge the Government to remember that there are real individuals and families affected every time changes are made to the Return to Work SA scheme,” said Ms Claire Eagle, spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) in SA. “The scheme is already combative and the most recent changes are likely to result in more litigation and disputes.
“The scheme would work better if there was more focus on paying for treatment instead of litigation. At the end of the day, we need to remember that this scheme should be about supporting people who have had their entire lives changed by an injury.”
Ms Eagle gave evidence yesterday on behalf of the ALA at the Select Committee Inquiry into the Return to Work SA Scheme. Ms Eagle urged the Select Committee to ensure the scheme focuses on procedural fairness and just outcomes for injured workers, including those with psychological injuries.
“There is a very significant gap between the entitlements of workers suffering from the effects
of a physical injury as compared to those suffering from a mental injury. The scheme becomes even more convoluted when a person has sustained both physical and psychological injuries,” said Ms Eagle.
“This is simply not fair and does not match community expectations and our current understanding of mental illness. The treatment of people with psychological injuries is not consistent with the broader community focus on understanding and addressing the issue of mental health in society generally and particularly in workplaces.
“We need this scheme to work better. When it does not or cannot achieve its objectives, the inevitable outcome is that injured workers are simply shifted to alternative means of financial support such as Centrelink benefits.”