Victorian Trades Hall Council continues to strongly reject changes by the Victorian Government that cut injured workers entitlements.
Victorian workers need a well-functioning and financially sustainable WorkCover scheme and we believe the path to getting there is through greater prevention - stopping workers from being injured in the first place.
We believe every worker who gets injured on the job should have all the support they need to get back to work as fast as possible.
Denying stressed workers access to WorkCover is incongruous with the stated purpose of the scheme. Penalising workers to fix the workers compensation scheme is the wrong way to go. As mental health is becoming de-stigmatised, we want workers to come forward to get the help they need. Denying injured workers access to WorkCover will exacerbate injuries, cause more harm and make rehabilitation harder.
The introduction of a Whole Person Impairment Test of more than 20% will mean that many injured workers will be removed from the scheme before they are ready to return to work. We are very concerned for the welfare of these workers and are strongly opposed to this change.
We remain committed to working with the Victorian Government to have Return to Work Victoria assist every worker to get access to expedited mental health support. The faster a worker receives treatment, the better the result is for the worker and the workplace. Return to Work Victoria could make a meaningful difference if it is flexible enough to try new initiatives and can stand up a mental health workforce that can see injured workers quickly.
The Trade Union movement believes WorkCover is in need of reform. We also believe this is a moment where we can make greater changes to improve the safety of Victorian workers, address the root causes of these injuries and have a system that is responsive to their medical needs. We do not believe this bill will achieve any of that.
Quotes attributable to Luke Hilakari, Secretary Victorian Trades Hall Council:
"We know there are real problems with Victoria’s WorkCover scheme. We want to see injured workers get back to work as soon as they’re able. Denying compensation to workers who are so stressed or so overworked that they need to access the WorkCover scheme is not the way to go about it.
“Unions know the best way to make the scheme financial is through prevention. Having better systems of work, safe working environments and a workforce that is educated about safe working practices, will have the most dramatic impact on reducing injuries in Victoria and consequently a financially sustainable scheme.
“We want workers to come forward with mental health issues. And we want them to know that if they do, they will be supported. If your workplace environment is so toxic or you are so overworked that you need to take time off work and put in a WorkCover claim, then you deserve to know you will be treated the same way as if you had suffered a physical injury.
“We are particularly concerned with the introduction of a Whole Person Impairment Test with a threshold of over 20% for workers to stay on benefits. No one has been able to tell us how many injured workers will lose entitlements after 130 weeks and where they should go for financial support if they can’t return to work.
“The union movement rejects all changes that reduce access and support for injured workers or remove injured workers from the WorkCover scheme.”
More information: James Raynes [email protected] or 0405 829 809