The statement below was read into the Lower House of State Parliament today by the Industrial Relations Minister Hon Bill Johnston MLA.
The full report can be viewed here.
“STATUTORY REVIEW OF FIREFIGHTER CANCER LEGISLATION” — REPORT
MR B. JOHNSTON:
I rise to table the “Statutory Review of Firefighter Cancer Legislation” report.
On 13 November 2013, amendments to the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 came into operation, providing a rebuttable presumption of work-related exposure for state-employed firefighters suffering any one of 12 specified cancers. The legislation makes it easier for firefighters to claim workers’ compensation entitlements by overcoming the evidentiary requirements of proving an occupational link between firefighting and cancer that would otherwise apply.
Section 49E of the act requires a statutory review of the operation and effectiveness of the amendments every five years. The minister must prepare a report based on the review and, as soon as practicable after the report is prepared, cause it to be laid before each house of Parliament.
In January 2019, I asked WorkCover WA to undertake the review. The report is the outcome of WorkCover WA’s assessment of the relevant legislative arrangements. I am pleased to inform the house that the review indicates that the legislation is operating as intended by facilitating timely access to compensation for firefighters who have contracted a specified cancer. To date, a total of 24 presumptive cancer claims have been made by firefighters in the five years since the legislation became operational. Only one claimant was not able to progress with his presumptive claim due to not meeting the legislative requirements. In terms of timely access to compensation, the average time taken to determine a claim is 13 days. The average time taken for an insurer to determine disease claims across the workers’ compensation scheme over the past five years was 43 days. This indicates that the legislation is working as intended and the time frames for a decision are significantly shorter than they otherwise would be.
Although no further legislative amendments are recommended based on the review, the government remains open to considering whether there should be additions to the presumptive cancers identified in the legislation. I wish to thank the United Firefighters Union of Western Australia, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and RiskCover for contributing to the review.