Accident compensation legislation to be updated

Victoria’s Accident Compensation Act will be updated to enhance support for injured workers, the Minister for Finance, WorkCover and the Transport Accident Commission, Tim Holding, has announced.

“The Accident Compensation Act 1985 has been in operation for over twenty years and is the basis of a workers’ compensation scheme that has provided support to hundreds of thousands of injured workers,” Holding says.

“While the underlying principles of the Act remain sound, incremental changes over the years have made it unwieldy and unnecessarily complex.”

Holding says Victoria’s WorkCover scheme is the best in Australia, offering generous benefits and good return-to-work outcomes for injured workers as well as low premiums for employers.

“Contrast this with the situation under the previous Government, when the scheme was $1 billion in debt, premiums were sky-high and benefits in decline.”

Holding says the legislation is being independently reviewed to ensure appropriate support continued to be provided to injured workers.

“This review builds on the success of the recent reforms to the Occupation Health and Safety Act and is part of the Government’s election commitment to modernising this important area of law,” he says.

“We are committed to ensuring that the current system is fair, workable and operating effectively.”

Holding says the review will investigate ways to make the system more efficient and provide better support and services to injured workers.

“We want to reduce the administrative burden on employers, improve the support and services provided to injured workers and improve the overall efficiency of the accident compensation system,” he says.

The review will examine the operation of the Accident Compensation Act 1985 and associated legislation, focusing on:

· the benefit and premium regime when compared with other jurisdictions;

· ways to ensure the best possible support is provided to injured workers;

· ways to reduce the administrative and regulatory burden on Victorian business;

· the removal of inoperative, irrelevant and superfluous legislative provisions; and

· improving understanding of the accident compensation regime.

Tim Holding says there will also be some scope to consider alignment, where appropriate, with schemes in other jurisdictions.

The independent review will be chaired by Mr Peter Hanks QC. A pre-eminent constitutional and administrative lawyer, Mr Hanks QC was previously a senior academic and is the author of several leading publications on constitutional and administrative law.

Mr Hanks QC will report to the Minister in the second half of 2008.

A stakeholder reference group will be appointed to assist the review and public submissions will be invited.

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