26 September 2023

WorkCover powered up to help injured workers

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Workers injured on the job are to receive more support and more care to recover following changes to the State’s Workers’ Cover Scheme.

Announcing the changes, Minister for Workplace Safety, Ingrid Stitt said that as part of several improvements to be made to the Scheme, WorkSafe Victoria would expand its newly established Claims and Recovery Support Team to focus on dedicated and specialised interventions for more complex claims.

Ms Stitt said the changes responded to recommendations from the 2021 Independent Review into the Victorian workers’ compensation scheme’s management of complex WorkCover claims.

She said the Review, conducted by Peter Rozen, found the outsourced agent model was unsuitable when it came to dealing with certain complex claims.

“By the end of 2022, WorkSafe will have finalised the transfer of about 2,000 WorkCover claims from long-term injured workers with complex needs from external agents and take on direct responsibility for their management,” Ms Stitt said.

“These are workers who still need to receive weekly payments 130 weeks after first making a claim and whose employers have ceased to operate.”

The Minister said that under planned amendments to the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (Vic), WorkSafe would be required to develop and publish a Code of Injured Workers’ Rights, which identified the rights of workers and the responsibilities of WorkSafe, as well as the process by which rights may be enforced.

She said the initial reforms would be phased in and would transform the WorkCover scheme to better address the nature of modern workplace injuries, particularly mental injuries, “which can be more challenging to identify, more costly and take longer to recover from than many physical injuries”.

“By improving workers’ experience with the compensation scheme, the changes also aim to prevent further injury,” Ms Stitt said.

“Workers who are unable to recover quickly and return to work can often develop a secondary mental injury such as anxiety or depression.”

She said that of the 22 recommendations made by the Review, Government had accepted 19 in full or in principle, with two recommendations requiring further consideration and one recommendation noted.

“Implementation of the Review’s recommendations would constitute the biggest reform to the WorkCover Scheme since its inception in 1985, so the Government will carefully stage the implementation to ensure we get the transformation right,” Ms Stitt said.

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