The Victorian State Labor Government has made a shameful deal with the Liberal State Opposition to reduce injured workers rights and benefits under WorkCover.

The changes will commence from 31 March 2024 and include:

Limited Psychological claim eligibility

The legislation will significantly reduce the circumstances where a WorkCover claim for a psychological injury will be accepted.

  • An aggravation or acceleration of a pre-existing psychological injury will only be compensable if work was the predominant cause of the aggravation / acceleration. 
  • No entitlement to compensation if the psychological injury is predominantly caused by work related stress or burnout that has arisen from usual or typical events that are reasonably expected to occur in course of your duties.

Significantly reduced rights for injured workers to receive weekly payments post 130 weeks

Weekly payments stop at 130 weeks for all workers (for physical and psychological injuries), unless the worker has:

  • No current work capacity which is likely to continue indefinitely; and  
  • A greater than 20% Whole Person Impairment (ie, 21% or more).

Restricted disputes rights

A worker cannot go to arbitration to dispute a decision to reject a claim. 

Current claims

These changes will only apply to new mental injuries that occur on, or after 31 March 2024.

The change to the 130 weeks payment will only apply to claims that reach 130 weeks on, or after 31 March 2024.

Missing the point: What Really Needs to be Done

There must be pressure on employers to take proactive steps to prevent these and other injuries arising in the first place.

There needs to be stricter enforcement of occupational health and safety laws.

There needs to be greater education on workplace health and safety for employers, and greater consultation with unions, professional associations and health and safety representatives to monitor and prevent risks to the health and safety of workers.

The longer-term goal should be to adequately staff the healthcare sector. We have seen inappropriate practices become normalised within the sector.

Members are advised to contact VAHPA for assistance if you are injured or incur an illness at work, particularly after the new changes to WorkCover come into effect.

See here for a fuller summary of the changes and what they mean for workers.

Image Source: HACSU