Legislative amendments contained in the Workplace Safety Legislation and Other Matters Amendment Act 2022 address difficulties in assessing occupational diseases that deteriorate rapidly or over a long period of time.
A number of changes made to recognise the progressive and ongoing nature of diseases such as silicosis come into force today, including:
- Injured workers with silica-related diseases are now be able to make a further common law application for damages if they develop a subsequent silica-related disease.
- Impairment benefit lump sum payments can now be made to injured workers with certain eligible progressive diseases that have not stabilised.
- Workers with eligible progressive diseases who experience further deterioration can now make subsequent impairment benefit claims.
- Injured workers who receive a lung transplant will be entitled to a deemed minimum 30 per cent assessed impairment, while the stabilisation requirement will be waived so that any impairment benefit can be accessed prior to the transplant.
- Eligibility for compensation for counselling services has also been extended to family members of workers diagnosed with an eligible disease, to close the gap in support where the disease is progressive but death might not be imminent.
Other changes commencing today provide additional support to families of a deceased worker and acknowledge the hardships and challenges they might face, including:
- Extending weekly pension payments for children living with a disability from the age of 16 to the age of 25 to recognise the financial dependency of children with disabilities, and the expectation that a parent would have provided ongoing financial support.
- Allowing an appointed trustee to receive provisional payments on behalf of a person with a disability or a minor in order to minimise the economic harm resulting from the loss of the deceased worker’s income.
- The family of an injured worker receiving household help services will continue to be provided with help for six months after the worker’s death.
- Making compensation available for costs incurred outside of Australia related to a funeral, burial, cremation, or repatriation of a deceased worker’s body.