NSW’s workers’ compensation failing injured workers

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Thursday, 4 August, 2022 - 12:45
Industry news
New South Wales

Claims under the NSW’s workers’ compensation were declining from 2010 but have flatlined since reforms to the system which were initiated in 2012, according to a recent report, which found there have been approximately 100,000 claims each year.

Average workers’ compensation premiums have also declined every year since 2006 to 2007 and have not increased, regardless of the financial viability of the NSW scheme before or after the 2012 reforms.

The report, which was conducted by the McKell Institute and produced with the support of Unions NSW, examines the state of NSW’s workers’ compensation framework since major reforms to the system occurred in 2012 by the then-O’Farrell Coalition Government.

The report said that ten years on, the key objectives pursued in the NSW workers’ compensation reforms of 2012 have not been met.

“Central to driving down the costs of workplace injury compensation claims in NSW is lowering the incidences of injuries themselves,” the report said.

“This is a challenging policy task but can be achieved with a comprehensive and collaborative policy approach that builds consensus about workplace safety standards between business, government, and trade unions.

“Achieving this outcome simply requires looking beyond the workers’ compensation system towards a more holistic approach to workers’ safety.”
However, in the 2012 reforms, the principle of ‘reducing incidents and fatalities’ was incorporated into the reforms, and on this measure, the report found the system is performing inadequately, with both workers’ compensation claims and fatalities largely stalling in the past decade.

The report said workers who have navigated the workers’ compensation system are routinely experiencing financial hardship, stress, and even suicidal ideation as a result of the inadequacies of the workers’ compensation system.

A survey of 106 injured workers conducted for the report found that 73 per cent had experienced suicidal ideation as a result of their workers’ compensation claim, while 72 per cent had lost employment during the period of their claim.

A further 76 per cent strongly disagreed that the workers’ compensation system had helped them recover from injury, and 87 per cent found it difficult to meet the cost of living while receiving workers’ compensation payments.