26 September 2023

New firefighter scheme to protect women

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Female firefighters who develop specific cancers are to have fairer access to compensation under an expansion to Victoria’s presumptive rights scheme.

Minister for Emergency Services, Jaclyn Symes announced that the scheme’s legislation was to be amended to include primary site cervical, ovarian and uterine cancers.

“Previously, it has been difficult to prove a particular event or exposure caused the development of these cancers, due to the significant number of incidents they respond to throughout their careers and a lack of international research into female-specific cancers in firefighters,” Ms Symes said.

“The expansion of presumptive rights recognises the invaluable service firefighters and personnel provide to the community, which requires them to work in inherently dangerous conditions and exposes them to carcinogens,” she said.

“Presumptive rights for cervical, ovarian and uterine cancers will be subject to a qualifying period of 10 years to align with other Australian and international jurisdictions.”

Ms Symes said it would relate to cancer diagnoses on or after 1 June 2016, which is in line with cancers already included under Victoria’s presumptive rights legislation.

She said fire personnel engaged by Fire Rescue Victoria, the CFA and the organisations that make up Forest Fire Management Victoria are eligible under current presumptive rights legislation to apply for compensation if diagnosed with one of the 12 cancers without having to prove that firefighting was the cause.

“Administered by WorkSafe Victoria, the presumptive rights compensation legislation presumes that a worker’s cancer was related to their service, providing relevant eligibility criteria is met,” the Minister said.

“Eligible personnel can make a compensation claim with WorkSafe by submitting a Worker’s Injury Claim Form to the organisation.

“Since the initial introduction of presumptive rights legislation in 2019, 211 claims have been processed,” Ms Symes said.

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