4/1/05Injured workers will get a better deal as implementation begins today for the Gallop Government’s reforms to create a workers’ compensation system that is fairer, balanced and provides greater certainty. Acting Consumer and Employment Protection Minister Clive Brown said the first stage of the most comprehensive restructure of Western Australia’s workers’ compensation system in more than 20 years would include greater benefits.“The significant increases in statutory benefits, payable to injured workers, deliver on an election commitment made four years ago and, in planning and building the reform package, we have been careful to keep workers compensation premiums sustainable for the State’s employers,” Mr Brown said.“From today, the maximum amount of weekly payments which can be paid to injured workers will increase from $1,084 to $1,446 and the period over which injured workers can receive full pay will be extended from four to 13 weeks.” The Minister said the reforms would also protect many allowances currently excluded from the compensation paid to injured workers who are off work for more than 13 weeks.“These changes will apply to both new and current claims and will have an immediate impact for about 6,000 workers, who are currently receiving compensation,” he said.“Injured workers will receive more than $130million in additional benefits in the first year of operation for the new system.” Mr Brown confirmed the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Commission had been replaced with a new governing body (the WorkCover Western Australia Authority) that would oversee implementation of the reforms from today.“In other changes, effective immediately, the Gallop Government has clarified the workers’ compensation coverage of employees who work in different States, to ensure employers need only one workers’ compensation policy,” the Minister said.“These new cross-border provisions reflect nationally agreed principles which are being adopted by all workers’ compensation jurisdictions, to clearly identify the State or Territory to which individual workers are connected.“This provides clarity and certainty for workers and employers by establishing the State in which a worker must be insured and the benefits to which they are entitled if injured.“The Minister said the ‘State of connection’ reform would minimise the chance of workers being caught in a legal quagmire, if they were injured while working interstate.“Not only have the Gallop Government’s principles of good management delivered four balanced budgets, they have also been applied to the development of a more balanced workers’ compensation system for Western Australians injured at work,” he said. “The Liberals ran down the State with five deficits in eight years and they also stripped away the rights and benefits of injured workers, leaving them struggling with an unfair workers’ compensation system.“The previous Liberal Government also burdened employers with rising costs, when average premiums blew out to almost 3.5 per cent.” Mr Brown said the second stage of the Gallop Government’s fair and balanced reforms to the workers’ compensation system would phase in from July 1, 2005. “Mid-year will see the introduction of more improvements, including further increases in statutory payments through additional medical benefits, greater accountability for the insurers, implementation of speedier dispute resolution, improved injury management protocols and reforms to simplify access to common law action,” the Minister added.“With the assistance of the new WorkerCover WA Authority, there will be continuing consultation with all stakeholders to ensure smooth implementation of the changes.”More details of the Gallop Government’s improvements to workers’ compensation are available on line at http://www.workcover.wa.gov.au/workerscompchanges/ or by phoning WorkCover’s Infoline on 1300 794 744.
Minister's office: 9222 9211