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Board communiqués

Each communique outlines what was discussed in the Board meeting.

2018

October communiqué

Prior to its October Board Meeting, the SIRA Board conducted its annual Strategic Planning Session. Members welcomed discussion on the forward view for Financial Year 2019, and the proposed approach to developing SIRA’s 2019 Financial Year Strategy.

The SIRA Board Members noted that the strategy should (1) focus on improving outcomes for SIRA’s customers, and (2) comprehensively address planned activity across several domains (legal, economic, scientific, human, and technological) to achieve SIRA’s overall goals. The Board will build on this initial strategy development discussion at its meetings over the following few months.

At the October Board Meeting, the Board was very pleased to note that the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 had passed Parliament on 17 October 2018. SIRA will now begin consultation with stakeholders which will assist in the development and implementation of Regulations and Guidelines to support commencement of the dispute resolution amendments before the end of this year.

Board Members noted an update on SIRA’s program of work to review and streamline the existing Workers Compensation Guidelines, and approved draft Workers Compensation Guidelines and related material for public consultation. With development occurring in tandem, Members also noted the status of the Claims Administration Manual (CAM) Project. Following public consultation, it is expected that SIRA will prepare final versions of both the CAM Standards of Practice and amended Guidelines for review and approval by the Board in December 2018.

Ms Nancy Milne, OAM, currently Deputy Chair of the SIRA Board, and Chair of the SIRA Audit and Risk Committee and Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Premium Committee of the Board, provided an update on the September and mid-October 2018 meetings of the CTP Premium Committee. Board Members noted the Committee’s discussion on the CTP Premium Parameter Review currently being conducted by the CTP Scheme Actuaries and the peer reviewer Actuaries; the CTP Scheme Actuary’s report on 2017 Scheme monitoring as at August 2018, and the CTP Scheme whole-of-scheme risks and mitigations report.

The Board was pleased to approve the Interim 2017 CTP Scheme Performance Report, 1 December 2017 to 30 June 2018 for publication.

Board Members approved an issues paper on the Point to Point industry for consultation. Arising from targeted consultation at a Horizon Scanning Workshop for the Point to Point industry on 18 September 2018, the issues paper is expected to be released in November 2018, and forms part of SIRA’s strategy to develop CTP arrangements for the Point to Point industry beyond current arrangements which expire on 1 December 2020.

The Board noted a progress update on the development of Transitional Excess Profit and Loss Mechanism Guidelines. Once the current set of draft Guidelines is consolidated, the Guidelines will be re-circulated to CTP insurers for feedback.

The SIRA Board noted a Financial Year 2017/18 update on the CTP Risk Equalisation Mechanism (REM) from the REM Clearing House, and that CTP insurers have been advised of their individual data analyses. Members also noted SIRA’s intention to perform a review of the REM in early 2019 after it has been in place for 12 months, and in consideration of feedback received during hearings of the Legislative Council Law and Justice Committee 2018 Review of the CTP Scheme.

Board Members noted progress on the early stage establishment of a Dispute Resolution Advisory Committee of the SIRA Board.

Other items considered at the October 2018 Board meeting included:

  • As a standing item at its meetings for the foreseeable future, the Board considered the Financial Services Royal Commission proceedings and action SIRA should take to enforce compliance by insurers in the mandatory insurance schemes which SIRA stewards.
  • The Board was provided an update on Home Building Compensation scheme reform.
  • Board Members noted an update on the implementation of section 39 and section 59A (limit on payment of compensation for medical expenses) of the Workers Compensation Act 1987. Members had the opportunity to consider the progress to date on developing a strategy for workers transitioning off medical benefits under Section 59A.
  • The Board was provided a quarterly update on key SIRA People and Culture statistics.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

September communiqué

At its September meeting, the SIRA Board approved a new section (Part 8) of the Motor Accident Guidelines relating to taxis and hire vehicles, which introduces usage-based premiums based on distance travelled. These premiums for Point to Point vehicles, an industry that has undergone rapid change, are designed to reflect the risks more effectively. The new section is supplementary to Part 1 of the Motor Accident Guidelines (Premium determination). Members also approved consequential amendments to Part 1 (Premium Determination) of the Motor Accident Guidelines.

The Board devoted time to considering the Financial Services Royal Commission proceedings and action SIRA should take to enforce compliance by insurers in the mandatory insurance schemes which SIRA stewards. Members acknowledged the significance of witness testimony at the proceedings and agreed that the Board will consider the outcomes and their applicability for SIRA’s regulatory approach.

Board Members noted SIRA has commenced an evidence-based pilot compliance exercise in collaboration with the Australian Taxation Office. The intention of the pilot is to validate methods for identifying employers who have not taken out workers compensation insurance and evaluate possible compliance and enforcement interventions to address non-compliance by employers.

Members were pleased to note progress on the Young Drivers Telematics Trial, which commenced in July 2018. The project has advanced significantly, and the SIRA project team is working with the NSW Centre for Road Safety and the expert advisory group to finalise the research framework.

The Board noted an update on the Workers Compensation Claims Administration Manual (CAM) and Guidelines Review project. SIRA has commenced focussed consultation on the CAM Standards of Practice which outline mandatory requirements for workers compensation insurers. SIRA expects to conduct broad external consultation on the Guidelines during October 2018.

Other items considered at the September 2018 Board meeting included:

  • Members were provided an update on the progress of the NSW Government commitment to reform workers compensation dispute resolution arrangements.
  • Board Members noted an update on the implementation of section 39 and section 59A (limit on payment of compensation for medical expenses) of the Workers Compensation Act 1987.
  • The Board was provided an update on SIRA’s planned approach in response to results of the 2018 NSW People Matter Employee Survey (PMES), which was open to all employees across the NSW Government sector from Friday 1 June 2018 to Monday 2 July 2018. Members acknowledged an outstanding response rate of 95 percent of SIRA employees to the survey, and noted a SIRA-wide PMES Action Plan is being developed in consultation with SIRA employees.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

August communiqué

Senior officials of the New South Wales (NSW) Treasury Commercial Group met with the SIRA Board at the August meeting as part of SIRA’s engagement with a range of stakeholders in its supervision of insurers across the mandatory insurance schemes which SIRA stewards. Board Members were encouraged to note areas of collaboration between Treasury and SIRA, and further opportunities for the agencies to work together.

The Board noted an update on the Workers Compensation Claims Administration Manual (CAM) and Guidelines Review project and endorsed a draft set of CAM Standards of Practice for consultation with stakeholders. Stakeholders will be invited to provide feedback on the draft Standards from late August 2018 as part of SIRA’s ongoing engagement strategy on the CAM, and streamlining of the existing Workers Compensation Guidelines to simplify these for insurers and other stakeholders.

Section 9.17 of the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 and section 172 of the Motor Accident Compensation Act 1999 require SIRA to inform each licenced insurer of their Compulsory Third Party (CTP) premium market share on a quarterly basis. Board Members noted advice on current trends in CTP premium market share and premium movements, and that detailed premium reports had been circulated to insurers, actuaries and the Insurance Council of Australia.

The Board was advised that SIRA senior management representatives would appear before the NSW Parliamentary Legislative Standing Committee on Law and Justice later on the day of the Board Meeting. The Committee has supervisory oversight for the operation of the NSW Compulsory Third Party insurance scheme, and is conducting its 2018 review of the scheme.

The Board received a progress update on the Mid-implementation Review of the SIRA Dispute Resolution Services Operating Model, including discussing models in place locally and in other Australian jurisdictions. Members acknowledged the potential value of an advisory body to the Board on dispute resolution services, and endorsed the establishment of a sub-committee of the Board to steer the review of the dispute resolution component of the Motor Accidents (CTP) Guidelines, and related matters. The Board also endorsed that the Committee be chaired by Dr Graeme Innes, independent Member on the SIRA Board.

Other items considered at the August 2018 Board meeting included:

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

July communiqué

At its July meeting, the Board received an update from the Chief Executive about her appearance earlier that week before the NSW Parliamentary Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice where she responded to a considerable number of SIRA-related enquiries.

The Board was advised about progress in reforming the Home Building Compensation (HBC) scheme. The Board approved the final Home Building Compensation (Contribution) Alternative Indemnity Product (AIP) Guidelines which detail the regulatory arrangements that will apply to licensed providers under the HBC scheme. Board Members discussed the Guidelines at length, noting the incorporation of consultation feedback and the significance of the Guidelines in that they will permit providers to enter the HBC market, to support the government’s objective for the HBC scheme to be competitive, innovative and sustainable.

The Board reviewed the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Scheme Performance Report 2016-17 and was pleased to learn that SIRA plans to issue future reports on a more timely basis, as enabled by improved data reporting functionality introduced as part of the new 2017 CTP scheme. The Report is provided to the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice annually, as a Committee recommendation of a previous review, and will inform the 2018 review of the CTP insurance scheme.

At our meeting, Ms Nancy Milne, OAM, currently Deputy Chair of the SIRA Board, and Chair of the SIRA Audit and Risk Committee (ARC), provided an update on the July 2018 ARC meeting. Board Members noted the extensive work completed to facilitate SIRA’s compliance with End-of-Financial Year requirements.

Members were provided an update on the progress of the NSW Government commitment to reform workers compensation dispute resolution arrangements. Chaired by the SIRA Chief Executive, the program Steering Committee continues to meet regularly to steward the process of implementing the related legislative change.

Other items considered at the July 2018 Board meeting included:

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

June communiqué

The SIRA Board held its June meeting in SIRA’s Gosford office. This provided the opportunity for Board Members to meet with staff before the meeting. Board Members participated in a panel session where Dr Rhys Bollen, Executive Director, Workers and Home Building Compensation Regulation, quizzed members about their visions for the business and asked them to speak about their personal experiences and aspirations for SIRA as a modern, principles-based, outcomes-focused regulator. I know that my fellow Board Members enjoyed the opportunity and trust that those present in person or via the webcast did also.

As the SIRA Board did not meet in May 2018, Members considered several papers Out of Session to address time-critical Compulsory Third Party (CTP) matters between the April and June 2018 Meetings. Specifically, the Board noted the per policy fixed dollar levy rates for taxis (Class 7 vehicles) will be reduced commencing 1 July 2018, as directed by the Minister for Finance, Services and Property (3 May 2018). The Ministerial Direction under section 20(1) of the State Insurance and Care Governance Act 2015 (SICG Act) was made to reduce the Fund Levy for taxis to match that collected for class 1 vehicles, and will remain in place until 30 June 2019, or until SIRA has sufficient data on relative claims frequency and usage to update the Levy rates for rideshare, taxi and hire car operators.

At our meeting, the Board was pleased to note the CTP Green Slip scheme quarterly insights report – January to March 2018, which provides information about the first full quarter of the 2017 scheme along with information on the 1999 scheme.

The report marks an important step in SIRA’s ongoing efforts to build the community’s awareness of the CTP Scheme as it follows the injured person’s journey and experience through case study examples. Members noted the report is publicised through the Motor Accidents Bulletin, is posted on the SIRA website, and is also sent directly to CTP insurers and legal professional bodies.

Ms Nancy Milne, OAM, currently Deputy Chair of the SIRA Board, and Chair of the SIRA Audit and Risk Committee (ARC), and CTP Premium Committee of the Board, provided an update on the April 2018 meetings of the ARC and June 2018 meeting of the CTP Premium Committee. Board Members noted the Committee’s discussion of the CTP Scheme Actuary’s report on 2017 Scheme monitoring as at April 2017, and CTP Scheme whole-of-scheme risks and mitigations.

Board Members noted the update on SIRA’s development of a Point to Point Strategy, and the fast-paced nature of the point to point industry with rapid technological disruption. Members were supportive of SIRA’s approach in engaging with stakeholders on future trends in the industry.

The SIRA Board noted an update on the concurrent 2018 reviews of the Workers Compensation Scheme and the CTP insurance scheme by the NSW Parliamentary Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice. These are the Committee’s second reviews of the Workers Compensation and CTP Schemes since the commencement of the SICG Act. In consultation with myself as Board Chair, SIRA prepared a short factual submission to the Committee covering both scheme reviews.

Board Members were provided an update on the progress of the NSW Government commitment to reform workers compensation dispute resolution arrangements. The Board was advised responsibility for leadership of the NSW Workers Compensation Dispute Resolution Reform Program of work has been transferred to SIRA from the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (DFSI) Central Policy Office (CPO). The CPO had completed an extensive review culminating in the proposed Government reforms announced by the Minister for Finance, Services and Property on 4 May 2018. More information on the process to date is available on the DFSI website.

Other items considered at the June 2018 Board meeting included:

  • Board Members were provided with the SIRA Dispute Resolution Services Quarterly Data Report for January to March 2018.
  • Board Members were provided an update on the implementation of section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987. SIRA is working with key stakeholders to provide policy clarification and aid mutual understanding of the circumstances where a worker re-commences weekly payment following a Workers Compensation Commission determination (greater than 20 percent permanent impairment or has not reached maximum medical improvement).
  • The Board noted an update on the Workers Compensation Claims Administration Manual (CAM) and Guidelines Review project, with advice due to the Board in July 2018 in relation to significant policy issues and proposed consultation strategy to engage stakeholders on CAM content and amended Guidelines. It is anticipated a further update will be provided to the Board in October 2018 on any significant policy or stakeholder issues prior to gaining final approval for publishing the CAM.
  • An update was provided on SIRA’s consideration of innovation ideas submitted by insurers in relation to the CTP Innovation Support Framework (Transitional Excess Profit and Loss).
  • Board Members were pleased to note the launch of the NSW Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy 2018-2022, with a $55 million program announced to create mentally healthy workplaces across NSW. The strategy represents a collaboration between key government agencies including icare, SafeWork NSW and SIRA on delivery of a range of evidence-informed interventions, and represents the most substantial investment in workplace mental health in Australia’s history.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

May communiqué

The SIRA Board generally meets in May of each calendar year.

The Board did not meet this month, with the next meeting scheduled in June 2018.

April communiqué

The Board was pleased to receive an update on the Young Drivers Telematics Project which was jointly announced by the Minister for Finance, Services and Property and Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight on 28 March 2018. Up to 1,000 drivers under the age of 25 will be given the chance to participate in a NSW Government trial with in-car technology aimed at reducing road casualties across the state.

Young drivers who hold P1, P2 or unrestricted licences, who live in western Sydney and regional NSW, will be able to participate in the trial. Eligible drivers can pre-register via the SIRA website.

Ms Nancy Milne, OAM, currently Deputy Chair of the SIRA Board, and Chair of the SIRA Audit and Risk Committee, and Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Premium Committee of the Board, provided an update on the April 2018 meetings of each Committee. Of specific note, Board Members noted the Committee’s advice on the proposed principles of the CTP Scheme Innovation (Bonus) Framework, which is an integral part of the Transitional Excess Profit and Loss mechanism within the Scheme.

The Board endorsed the principles underpinning the Framework. Members reinforced their support for encouraging innovation that benefits policy-holders, injured people and their families, and the wider community/public.

The Chair of the icare Board, the Interim Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director and other icare executives met with the SIRA Board, and delivered a presentation on the valuation of the liabilities for the workers compensation Nominal Insurer scheme managed by icare, an update on the new claims model, and an update on icare’s customer and operations approach.

The Board was provided an update on the SIRA Workers Compensation Open Data Project which had been considered at the March 2018 Board Meeting, and endorsed a hybrid report containing open data and high level indicators in a dashboard infographic format. This is an exciting step for SIRA in prioritising the proactive release of workers compensation scheme data, and the Board looks forward to enhancements in future data releases.

Board Members were provided with an update on the implementation of section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987. SIRA continues to work closely with insurers and key stakeholders to ensure claimants/workers continue to have access to a range of support and information regarding the section 39 changes. This includes reviewing insurer strategies to monitor seamless claimant transition off weekly payments related to section 39 to other means of support as required.

The 2018/19 Workers Compensation Market Practice and Premium Guidelines (MPPGs) introduced a 30 percent cap on premium rate increases to address volatility within the workers compensation premium system. SIRA has recently consulted with insurers and industry on a possible exemption from the capping provision for employers with a record of poor work, health and safety culture and/or behaviour, and specifically, breaches of Work Health & Safety legislation. As there was a lack of stakeholder support for an exemption at this time, the SIRA Board approved retaining the MPPGs in their current form, and noted that SIRA will pursue a resolution on this key issue through working with insurers, industry and SafeWork NSW over the next six months.

Other items considered at the April 2018 Board meeting included:

  • The reformed Home Building Compensation Scheme commenced on 1 January 2018. The Board was provided a status update on the scheme, and noted SIRA has commenced targeted consultation on Draft Contributions Guidelines.
  • As a result of reforms to the NSW (CTP) Green Slip scheme, over four million eligible CTP policy holders are entitled to claim a refund on their Green Slips. The Board was provided an update on the state-wide advertising campaign to ensure eligible motorists are aware of their entitlements, with a social media component of the campaign proving to be a strong driver of the volume of refund claims and website visits early in the campaign.
  • The Board noted SIRA is currently reviewing and refining its approach to performance reporting to the Board, including in relation to Scheme performance and outcomes, Organisational performance, and Performance against the Delivery Plan (contained in the SIRA 2018 Strategic Plan). The Board was advised details on the future performance reporting approach would be presented at the next Board Meeting for Members’ endorsement.
  • Board Members noted the ongoing policy work of the DFSI Central Policy Office and Reference Group on the Workers Compensation Dispute Resolution Review.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

March communiqué

The SIRA Board approved release of draft Home Building Compensation (contribution) alternative indemnity product (AIP) guidelines for targeted consultation with key and registered stakeholders. SIRA will conduct targeted consultation for four weeks on the draft guidelines that will specify the regulatory requirements for the contributions (compared with premiums) that AIP providers will collect. Members also approved the draft guidelines as interim guidelines to assist any AIP provider that might want to apply for a licence during the consultation period.

Members were updated on SIRA’s Taxi, Hire Car and Ride Share Strategy. SIRA is progressing kilometre-based Green Slips charging and greater regulatory fairness for the point to point industry, with intensive consultation having occurred to date. Additional, more technically-oriented consultation is underway to facilitate implementation of the point to point solution on 1 April 2018.

The Board was provided with an update on the implementation of section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987. SIRA continues to work closely with insurers and key stakeholders to ensure claimants/workers continue to have access to a range of support and information regarding the section 39 changes.

Board Members were provided a draft insights report on the Compulsory Third Party (Green Slip) Scheme for the December 2017 quarter. The Board’s input was sought to inform SIRA’s progressive development of this report to best reflect performance of both the former 1999 Scheme and the new 2017 Scheme. Members also discussed key principles which will underpin the new Scheme performance monitoring framework and approach. Scheme reports are available on the SIRA website.

The Board was pleased to endorse the SIRA Workers Compensation Open Data Project, in line with the SIRA priority to increase the proactive release of workers compensation scheme data as part of its regulatory approach. SIRA supports the principles of open data as committed to by Government in the Government Information Public Access Act 2009 and subsequent review of its Open Data Policy, and is seeking to align with the ‘work-in-progress’ NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation Open Data Strategy through the project outcomes.

Other items considered at the March 2018 Board meeting included:

  • The Board approved contribution rates for levies used to fund regulatory expenses for the Home Building Operational Fund and Workers Compensation Operation Fund, and contribution rates for funds used for claims paid by the Dust Diseases Authority (icare dust diseases care).
  • The SIRA Board was provided insights on outcomes of SIRA strategic planning, including internal roadmaps to deliver on key priorities over the next 12 to 18 months.
  • Board Members noted the ongoing policy work of the DFSI Central Policy Office and Reference Group on the Workers Compensation Dispute Resolution Review.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

February communiqué

At the February 2018 meeting of the SIRA Board, Members received an update on the roll-out of the new Home Building Compensation Scheme, which commenced on 1 January 2018. Members welcomed advice of successful implementation to date underpinned by the previously developed supporting regulations, guidelines and a provider licensing framework. The Board was pleased to note the accompanying launch of a new online Home Building Compensation Certificate Check – a digital register of home building certificates for building works over $20,000 in NSW. Through the online Certificate Check, homeowners can confirm the validity of their Home Building Compensation insurance policy, including any previous claims on the policy. This marks an innovative step in community protections.

The Board was provided with an update on the ongoing implementation of the new Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Scheme. In line with the Board-approved Motor Accident Guidelines – Premiums Refund published on 19 January 2018, delivery of refunds to NSW businesses has commenced. Members noted that work continues on finalising processes to deliver premium refunds to individual citizens.

Ms Nancy Milne, OAM, currently Deputy Chair of the SIRA Board, provided an update on the first meeting of the CTP Premium Sub-Committee of the Board, which was held on 7 February 2018. Board Members noted the progress made in establishing the Committee and specialist advisory expertise on CTP premium matters which was provided.

Mr Peter Dunphy, Executive Director - SafeWork NSW, provided a highly informative presentation on emerging workplace health and safety issues over the 2018/2019 period and beyond. Board Members welcomed a progress update on the NSW Work Health and Safety Roadmap 2022, a six-year strategy that aims to protect workers from harm, reduce unnecessary compliance and secure safety standards in NSW workplaces. The Board was encouraged to note insights on existing collaboration between SIRA and SafeWork NSW, and positive trends on the Roadmap key indicators.

The Board was provided with an update on the implementation of SIRA’s strategy relating to section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987. Members noted the highly structured set of operational arrangements SIRA put in place over the December 2017 to January 2018 period to ensure provision of a range of support and information regarding the section 39 changes. Supports include an after-hours answering service on the SIRA 13 10 50 customer service line and 24-hour counselling service for workers experiencing acute psychological or financial / social distress, introduced from 15 December 2017 and continuing to provide services.

Members were advised of the imminent departure of Ms Belinda Cassidy, who fulfilled the role of Principal Claims Assessor, Motor Accidents Claims Assessment and Resolution Service for many years. In line with provisions of the Motor Accident Compensation Act 1999, Ms Cassidy’s was a key Ministerial appointment to the Principal Claims Assessor statutory officer role. Board Members expressed recognition of Ms Cassidy’s dedicated service over a substantial period and, on behalf of the SIRA Board, I wish to thank Ms Cassidy, and wish her every success for her future.

Other items considered at the February 2018 Board meeting included:

  • The Board noted the 2017 Annual Calendar Year Update for SIRA Dispute Resolution Services, with a summary report on the trends in dispute resolution services to be made available on the SIRA website.
  • Members discussed a draft SIRA People and Culture Strategy, noting proposed development of a ‘Culture Plan’ identifying SIRA values, cultural strengths and behavioural outcomes – in alignment with the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (DFSI) and NSW Public Sector values. The Board noted engagement sessions with SIRA staff are planned in the next quarter to develop the Culture Plan and inform an Action Plan to roll-out the People and Culture Strategy. The Board is looking forward to seeing the outcomes of engagement with SIRA staff when the final Strategy, Culture and Action Plans are brought back to the Board in June 2018.
  • Board Members considered an evaluation approach to assess the performance of the Board, with such reviews to occur at least every three years in accordance with the SIRA Board Charter.
  • The Board engaged in discussion on ongoing policy work of the DFSI Central Policy Office and Reference Group on the Workers Compensation Dispute Resolution Review.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

January communiqué

The calendar year schedule of Board Meetings generally commences in February.

The SIRA Board did not meet this month.

2017

December communiqué

Prior to the December Board Meeting, Members were very pleased to briefly join SIRA staff in end of year celebrations. We enjoyed the opportunity to meet with staff and thank them for their contribution to SIRA’s achievements of 2017.

I also took the opportunity to acknowledge Ms Carmel Donnelly’s recent confirmation as Chief Executive of SIRA, which was wholeheartedly endorsed by the Board. The Board also congratulated Dr Rhys Bollen on confirmation of his appointment as Executive Director, Workers and Home Building Compensation Regulation.

At our meeting the Board approved the final Home Building Compensation standard licence conditions, application guidelines and notification requirements for licensed insurers and licensed providers in anticipation of the planned commencement date for the Home Building Amendment (Compensation Reform) Act 2017 on 1 January 2018.

Board Members received an update on the roll-out of the new Motor Accident Insurance (Compulsory Third Party) Scheme, which commenced on 1 December 2017. The Board welcomed advice that the “go live” was successful, including the launch of additional new Scheme content on the SIRA website as part of a strategic communication campaign. Additional information has been made available promoting both Dispute Resolution Services and the new online portal which has been made available to aid the community in lodgement of dispute applications.

The Board approved the Motor Accident Premium Refund Guidelines, which will advise Insurers on the method for calculating refunds for motorists/eligible policy holders and the related administration. A public information campaign is scheduled for early 2018 to provide motorists/eligible policy holders with advice on arrangements for the refunds.

Subject to final technical/editorial changes, the Board approved the 2018 Workers Compensation Annual Performance Report. Providing information on the 2016/17 financial year, the Board noted the Report utilises the latest available data from insurers as at June 2017, and includes NSW data collected by Safe Work Australia. SIRA is committed to providing timely reporting on the performance and status of the workers compensation system, and expects to release the report in January 2018.

Board members received an impressive presentation by the icare Chief Executive Officer and other icare executives on the progress with scheme agent transition, the introduction of a new claims operating system, and the valuation of the liabilities for the workers compensation Nominal Insurer scheme managed by icare.

The Board was provided with a monthly update on the implementation of SIRA’s strategy relating to section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987. Members noted the work to ensure operational arrangements are in place.

Other items considered at the December 2017 Board meeting included:

  • The Board approved SIRA’s Strategic Plan for activities up until December 2018, and noted the plan will shortly be made available on the SIRA website.
  • Board Members noted work has commenced on developing and implementing a Claims Administration Manual for Insurers under section 192A of the Workers Compensation Act 1987. The Manual will provide an accessible and transparent claims handling framework outlining best practice principles, expectations and standards for claims management processes and practices.
  • Members were advised that a review of the existing suite of workers compensation Guidelines will occur concurrently with the Claims Administration Manual development, with amendments to ensure all Guidelines are current and valid, with key issues identified by stakeholders addressed where appropriate.
  • The Board had the opportunity to review a forward schedule of items for their consideration to June 2018.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

November communiqué

The Board received an update on the most recent progress on the Motor Accidents Insurance (Compulsory Third Party) Scheme reform. Members again acknowledged the substantial efforts by SIRA, DFSI, insurers and partner organisations in preparing for the new scheme and were delighted to hear that all systems were “go” for introduction of the reforms on 1 December. This is an historic change which will deliver significant benefits to the citizens of NSW and reflects tremendous efforts by all those involved.

Board Members were very pleased to approve (in-principle, subject to any technical amendments) further supporting instruments for reforms under the Home Building Amendment (Compensation Reform) Act 2017 due for implementation on 1 January 2018. These included the final Home Building Compensation Prudential Guidelines, Premium Guidelines, and Eligibility Guidelines; and draft Home Building Compensation standard licence conditions, application guidelines, and notification requirements for licensed insurers and licensed providers (alternative indemnity providers) for imminent targeted consultation with key stakeholders.

Following on from extensive consultation in late 2016 and in accordance with a strategy to continuously improve the workers compensation premium system, SIRA consulted with licensed insurers and other stakeholders on proposed amendments to the 2017/18 Workers Compensation Market Practice and Premium Guidelines (MPPGs). At this meeting, the Board noted that SIRA has also obtained the requisite actuarial and legal feedback on the proposed 2018/19 Workers Compensation draft MPPGs, and approved them to be published for consultation.

At the meeting, the DFSI Central Policy Office team updated Members on progress of the review of the workers compensation insurance dispute resolution system. The Board noted that a discussion paper will shortly be released for public consultation.

The Board was provided with the monthly update on the implementation of SIRA’s strategy relating to section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 – facilitating benefit pathways, support programs and return to work assistance for those claimants transitioning off weekly benefits in certain circumstances after five years. Members noted the plans in place to ensure effective claimant support over the December 2017 to January 2018 period.

Board Members received a presentation on SIRA’s workers compensation insurer supervision model, noting the model adopts a collaborative and commercial approach to monitoring and supervising performance across 77 insurers/agents. A demonstration was provided on the Salesforce cloud-based fully digital solution SIRA has been utilising internally since July 2017, and how its functionality is assisting SIRA to meet its statutory responsibilities and subsequently improve the experience of workers.

Other items considered at the November 2017 Board meeting included:

  • The Board continued discussions on components of SIRA’s Strategic Plan, and noted that work is on track to present the new Strategic Plan to the Board for endorsement at the December 2017 meeting.
  • The Board noted the CTP Insurance Scheme Quarterly Report as at September 2017, and that quarterly statistics on the performance of the Scheme will be released to licensed insurers as required by the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999. It was acknowledged that future performance reports will continue to include details about old scheme claims as well as information about the new CTP Scheme.
  • The Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice has been designated to undertake the Statutory Review of the State Insurance and Care Governance Act 2015. SIRA’s submission was provided to the Committee by 31 October 2017, and our SIRA Acting Chief Executive was a witness at the public hearing, which took place on
    7 November 2017.
  • The Board had an opportunity to provide feedback on a proposed ‘whole-of-SIRA’ Complaint Handling Framework, aligning to the Whole of Government Complaint Handling Improvement Program under the Premier’s Priority to improve Government Services. Further discussions with the Board will include consideration of complaint handling processes relating to the schemes that SIRA regulates, and regarding Dispute Resolution Services.
  • The Board was joined by NSW Treasury Corporation representatives and an external consultant from Mercer, who delivered a presentation as a follow-on to an October discussion with the Board. This enabled the finalising of changes to the strategic asset allocation and the dynamic asset allocation ranges for the Insurers’ Guarantee Fund, for which SIRA is responsible.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

October communiqué

The Board was very pleased to note the significant progress which has been made on Motor Accidents Insurance (Compulsory Third Party) Scheme reform. This has been a massive effort to date and the new scheme is on track to commence on 1 December 2017.

The Board noted that the Minister for Finance, Services and Property and the SIRA Acting Chief Executive have signed the new CTP Insurance Industry Deed, as have all the current Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurers. The SIRA Acting Chief Executive subsequently also approved new scheme licences for the CTP insurers, and SIRA has communicated with insurers that their licences have been granted. The new Green Slip prices have been reviewed by SIRA and are now available on the new Green Slip Price Check website. As well as delivering significant premium reductions (of the order of 24 per cent on average for the Class 1 metro headline price, compared to when the legislation was introduced), the new scheme will mark a significant change in claims management towards a much less adversarial approach.

Board Members were also updated on the continued high level of stakeholder consultation and progress in developing supporting instruments for the Home Building Compensation Scheme reform. With reforms under the Home Building Amendment (Compensation Reform) Act 2017 due for implementation on 1 January 2018, the Board provided approval for targeted consultation with key stakeholders on selected supporting instruments, and in-principle approval for those on which stakeholders have recently provided their feedback. This specifically relates to the current version of the Business Plan Guidelines and Claims Handling Guidelines which were informed by public consultation which closed on 18 October 2017.

At this meeting the Board had the opportunity to discuss options to improve the workers compensation insurance dispute resolution system with the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation central policy office team. Board Members noted that a discussion paper is expected to be released for public consultation in the near future.

The Board continued its discussions on the new SIRA Strategic Plan which will increase SIRA’s impact on outcomes for the people and businesses of NSW through risk and evidence-based, customer-centric, regulation and stewardship. Members noted that the new Strategic Plan will be presented to the Board for endorsement at the December 2017 meeting.

The Board was provided with the monthly update on the implementation of SIRA’s strategy relating to section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 – facilitating benefit pathways, support programs and return to work assistance for those claimants transitioning off weekly benefits in certain circumstances after five years. Continuing its efforts to work closely with insurers and key stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of section 39 provisions, the Board noted that SIRA has written to insurers recommending that each worker affected by the transition be offered the opportunity to receive their final weekly payment entitlements in advance. SIRA has also introduced new Community Connect funding for workers to use to fund community support services or pay to address a specific barrier or need. Workers can access Community Connect if they have received notification from the insurer confirming that weekly payments will cease on or before 30 June 2018, due to section 39 of the 1987 Act, and need to apply for Community Connect through the insurer.

Other issues considered at the October 2017 Board meeting included:

  • The Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice has been designated to undertake the Statutory Review of the State Insurance and Care Governance Act 2015. Submissions were due to the Committee by 31 October 2017.
  • The Board reviewed SIRA’s draft annual report for the 2016-17 Financial Year.
  • Joined by a NSW Treasury Corporation representative, Board Members received an insightful presentation from Mercer, external consultants to the business, who work with SIRA in meeting its financial accountabilities for the workers compensation Insurers' Guarantee Fund.
  • The quarterly update on People and Culture programs in SIRA:
    • SIRA continues work to develop a strong wellbeing-focused and inclusive culture across its three sites.
    • The Board noted the key people and culture statistical information provided.
    • A SIRA People and Culture Strategy will include an action plan addressing the SIRA results in the 2017 People Matter Employee Survey.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

September communiqué

The first item on the agenda for our September meeting was a discussion about strategy with the broader leadership team of SIRA directors. This followed a special session earlier in the week where the Board reviewed the progress SIRA has made since its establishment two years ago and confirmed the purpose and mission of our organisation. At the meeting Board Members enjoyed a stimulating interchange with the SIRA directors and the group discussed our key priorities for the next eighteen months. We are determined to develop SIRA as a modern, data driven, outcomes focussed regulator that makes a genuine positive difference to the people and businesses of NSW. Board members valued meeting with the broader SIRA Leadership team to identify ‘what success looks like’ for SIRA.

The Board was pleased to note that SIRA is working closely with the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation in developing options to improve the workers compensation insurance dispute resolution system. The project is on track to achieving the milestones set out, with discussions on improvements to the current system taking place later this year. The aim is to introduce system reform in 2018.

The Board was updated on the Premium Relativities and the Risk Equalisation Mechanism (REM) for the new Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Scheme. It was highlighted that SIRA has been pressure-testing the approach to new premiums that will apply from 1 December to coincide with the commencement of the new Scheme. The outcomes of this analysis identified that minor changes are required to premium relativities and REM amounts for the new scheme, based on mitigating the risk of an increase in premiums for motorcycle owners, and making adjustments to allow for new distance-based charges for rideshare and taxi operators. The adjusted premium relativities figures for motorcycles and point to point vehicles were approved by the Board.

The Board was provided with the monthly update on the implementation of SIRA’s strategy relating to section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 – facilitating benefit pathways, support programs and return to work assistance for those claimants transitioning off weekly benefits in certain circumstances after five years. Members noted that SIRA continues to work closely with Insurers and key stakeholders to ensure implementation of section 39 is as smooth as possible.

The Board was impressed with a demonstration of a new Salesforce-based online system to receive and administer disputes (‘DRS Live’). This system will introduce new modern functionality and replace several complicated and extensive spreadsheets. It is vital to help us deliver timely, independent, fair and cost-effective resolution of disputes.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

August communiqué

At the August meeting, the Board received a presentation from the President of the Workers Compensation Commission, His Honour Judge Greg Keating, who provided an update on the Commission’s role, organisational initiatives, and approaches to early resolution of disputes in the system.

Improving customer satisfaction with key government services is a state priority and the SIRA Board was pleased to receive information about the increasing SIRA focus on improving outcomes for claimants and purchasers in the schemes and systems SIRA regulates. The Board was encouraged to hear about plans for cross-SIRA collaboration as the learnings from the 2016 CTP consultation process are equally applicable to parties in the workers compensation system.

The Board was pleased to note that SIRA and the NSW Data Analytics Centre (DAC) have been working in collaboration with data organisations to identify the capabilities and products that could provide significant benefits for the CTP Scheme (old and new), and for the regulatory capabilities of SIRA. Various initiatives are planned to leverage ‘Big Data’, and meet the key objectives of the new CTP Scheme through innovative digital solutions that will improve claimant experience and increase the proportion of benefits to customers.

The Board was updated on the development of Motor Accident Guidelines that set out the detail and operational considerations for the new Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Scheme. Provided for under the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017, the Guidelines are in a secondary stage of consultation with a broad-based stakeholder group and interested parties. The Board also considered a risk report which detailed the major risks to the introduction of the new CTP program on 1 December and the mitigations in place to deal with those risks.

The Board was provided a monthly update on the implementation of SIRA’s strategy relating to Section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 – facilitating benefit pathways, support programs and return to work assistance for those claimants transitioning off weekly benefits in certain circumstances after five years. Members noted ongoing progress in planning for the transition processes for affected claimants, and the level of community use of the SIRA Section 39 support and information service, contactable via email and phone, 13 10 50.

In line with SIRA’s financial accountabilities for the Workers Compensation Operational Fund (the Fund), the SIRA Board approved the Workers Compensation Fund contribution per cent for the 2017/18 Financial Year for Self- and Specialised Insurers. Established under section 34 of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 (the Act), the Fund is legislated to receive revenue from insurers, thereby providing for the operational budgets of SIRA, SafeWork NSW, the Workers Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO) and the Workers Compensation Commission. Also of significance, the Fund provides funding for vocational programs for claimants under Section 53 of the Act administered by SIRA, and Legal Aid, through the Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service (ILARS), administered by the WIRO.

The Board provided in-principle approval for draft Business Plan Guidelines and Claims Handling Guidelines for the Home Building Compensation Scheme, with a view to these being consulted on in September 2017 as part of Phase 2 consultation on supporting instruments for the Home Building Amendment (Compensation Reform) Act 2017. The Board was also pleased that public consultation on the builder eligibility and premium discussion papers commenced earlier this month, comprising a call for written submissions and a workshop with key stakeholders.

Other issues considered at the August 2017 Board meeting included:

  • Trends over the 2016/17 Financial Year in dispute resolution services that SIRA delivers within the Compulsory Third Party (CTP), workers compensation and Lifetime Care and Support schemes.
  • An update on People and Culture programs in SIRA:
    • SIRA continues to develop a strong wellbeing and inclusion-focused culture across its three sites, working in connection with the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (DFSI) Great Place to Work strategy, the Diversity Council and the staff Ambassador Network.
    • The 2017 NSW People Matter Employee Survey (closed on 30 June) results are being analysed, with SIRA results expected to be available towards the end of August.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

July communiqué

At the July meeting the Board approved the principles for a system to adjust for excess profits or losses that arise in the transition to the New Compulsory Third Party (N-CTP) Scheme, scheduled to be introduced on 1 December this year. The Board noted the substantial consultation process that has been undertaken with a range of stakeholders including insurers in achieving this outcome, which is appropriate given the new system breaks significant new ground.

The Board’s feedback was sought and an update provided on the development of Guidelines that set out the detail and operational considerations for the N-CTP Scheme. These Guidelines are currently under consultation with key stakeholders.

The Board was pleased to note successful progress in implementing the N-CTP Scheme, including attendance at a number of key meetings by the SIRA Board Chair and Deputy Chair with stakeholders and the Minister for Finance, Services and Property.

As signalled in the previous Board Communiqué, the NSW Parliament passed the Home Building Amendment (Compensation Reform) Bill 2017 on 20 June 2017, and it received assent on
27 June. The Board was pleased to note that a small number of provisions of the Bill commenced on 30 June 2017, and that SIRA aims to start stakeholder consultation on high-priority supporting instruments in August 2017, namely builder eligibility and premium-setting.

SIRA is conducting a review of the workers compensation specialised insurance licensing framework to improve customer outcomes, and ensure the framework is fit for purpose to complement SIRA’s recently introduced Licensed Insurer regulatory framework. The Board was updated on the review, with Members asked to provide feedback on policy options for further development ahead of proposed consultation with stakeholders in September 2017.

In line with SIRA’s financial accountabilities for the Workers Compensation Operational Fund (the Fund), the SIRA Board approved the publication of the deemed premium income methodology for self-insurers. Established under section 34 of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 (the Act), the Fund is legislated to receive revenue from insurers, thereby providing for the operational budgets of SIRA, SafeWork NSW, the Workers Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO) and the Workers Compensation Commission. Also of significance, the Fund provides funding for vocational programs for claimants under Section 53 of the Act administered by SIRA, and Legal Aid, through the Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service (ILARS), administered by the WIRO.

The Board was provided a monthly update on the implementation of SIRA’s strategy relating to Section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 – facilitating benefit pathways, support programs and return to work assistance for those claimants transitioning off weekly benefits in certain circumstances after five years. Members were pleased to note significant progress has occurred in cross-agency planning of the transition processes for affected claimants.

In early 2017, the NSW Law and Justice Committee reported on the complex nature of dispute resolution processes in workers compensation matters. The Board was provided an update on work underway by the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation to support Government’s response to the recommendations of the Parliamentary Review, which is due by September 2017.

The Board also considered and provided feedback on a draft whole-of-SIRA Compliance and Enforcement Policy, and noted the efforts of the leadership in the Compliance and Enforcement branch to provide new vision to support a more effective, risk-based approach to regulation.

Other issues considered at the July 2017 Board meeting included:

  • A demonstration of an upgrade to the Compulsory Third Party insurance Green Slip Calculator which is designed to improve the customer ‘shopping around’ experience.
  • A demonstration of a new on-line claims notification tool for Compulsory Third Party claims.
  • An update on People and Culture programs in SIRA:
    • NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week celebrations, which were attended by SIRA staff across the three locations to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
    • The 2017 NSW People Matter Employee Survey, which closed on 30 June, with the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation cluster continuing to lead the way with staff participation levels rising to 93 per cent. Since 2014, Better Regulation Division and SIRA have increased their response rates by 27 per cent. Evaluation is underway and reporting against results is expected in the near future.
    • A number of staff engagement projects continue to be progressed in response to the 2016 NSW People Matter Employee Survey.
    • Recent structural changes within DFSI, with the establishment of a stand-alone Chief Executive of SIRA at the Deputy Secretary level.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

June communiqué

The Board was pleased to note the substantial progress on preparation and consultation ahead of the commencement of the new Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Scheme by 1 December 2017. The update provided to the Board included advice on the data and digital strategy initiatives for reform of the CTP Scheme, both from the perspective of improving the customer experience in interacting with the Scheme, and continuous improvement of SIRA’s capability to monitor, supervise and drive scheme performance.

Board Members were also briefed on work and consultation underway on developing premium elements under the new Scheme. A milestone in CTP reforms will be reached over forthcoming weeks with the scheduled ‘go-live’ of the premium component of the Scheme.

The Chief Executive Officer of icare, along with senior executive advisors, presented to the SIRA Board on the December 2016 valuation of the liabilities of the workers compensation Nominal Insurer scheme managed by icare.

The Board again received an update on implementation of SIRA’s strategy relating to Section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 – facilitating benefit pathways, support programs and return to work assistance for those claimants transitioning off weekly benefits in certain circumstances after five years. Insurer information sessions on the section 39 transition have been continuing, with additional sessions held in the week of 19 June to fulfil the demand for the sessions. Insurers have been provided with up-to-date information on current activities and new initiatives, including the section 39 information and support services, and section 53 community connect program, giving insurers the opportunity to hear directly from guest presenters from the Workers Compensation Commission, HSNet and Ability Links.

Board Members were also advised that SIRA had recently published updated information about section 39 on its website to assist workers and stakeholders to understand the impact of the legislation and the way it applies to them. Stakeholders have been informed of the update via a SIRA bulletin on 1 June 2017, together with communication which directs insurers to the information on the website when communicating about section 39. The Workers Compensation Commission will also refer to this information in their next ‘E Bulletin’.

SIRA is consulting with self-insurers in the final phase ahead of the anticipated publishing of the Workers Compensation Self-insurance licensing framework by 1 July. The Board was advised that SIRA will consult with the NSW Self-Insurer Association during the implementation transitional period to 31 December 2017 as self-insurers are building capability to meet the new licence conditions.

Other issues considered at the June 2017 Board meeting included:

  • Quarterly statistics released by SIRA Dispute Resolution Services. Board Members were provided with an update on operational performance of the Services, and briefed on significant trends and strategic issues for consideration.
  • Members were provided with a progress update on Government reform of the Home Building Compensation Scheme and were pleased to be informed at the end of the meeting that the Act reforming the scheme had been passed by the NSW Upper House that day.
  • Further to discussion at the May meeting of the Board, Members were advised that work is underway to plan for the launch by August 2017 of the updated Small Business Strategy for work, health and safety and workers compensation.

An update on People and Culture programs in SIRA:

  • The annual Better Regulation Division and SIRA Staff Awards were presented at a Ceremony at NSW Parliament House in Sydney on 7 June 2017. Staff were delighted to hear from the Hon. Minister Kean MP, Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, and I had the privilege also of speaking at the ceremony on behalf of the Board. Staff from the Dispute Resolution Services division were finalists in the ‘Commitment to Wellness and Safety Award’. I was mightily impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the people in the room. This augurs well for the future.
  • The 2017 NSW People Matter Employee Survey went live on 2 June 2017, with staff encouraged to ‘have their say’ by 30 June 2017.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

May communiqué

The Board was pleased to note an updated Small Business Strategy for work, health and safety and workers compensation has been drafted in collaboration with the Small Business Reference Group (SBRG) established through a SIRA commitment as part of the existing Small Business Strategy 2013 (Workcover: Making it Easier), with the Office of the Small Business Commissioner and SafeWork NSW.

This strategy was designed to help small businesses with limited time and resources better manage work health and safety, workers compensation and return to work, and is consistent with whole-of-Government directions in making it easier to do business and in supporting small business in particular. It will guide the work of SIRA, SafeWork NSW and the SBRG over the next three years.

At its May Meeting, the SIRA Board further considered the Motor Accidents Injuries Bill 2017 provision for Excess Profit and Loss Adjustment (profit normalisation) in the Motor Accident Injuries Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Scheme. Noting earlier consultation with insurers and the consideration of principles for a profit normalisation mechanism, the Board has now approved the use of a specific premium profit margin for the purposes of consultation with stakeholders on the design of the transitional provisions.

Quarterly statistics are released to the insurance industry on the performance of the CTP Scheme as required by the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999. The Board was therefore provided a quarterly update on the CTP Scheme to brief Members on any trends or changes in CTP premium prices, numbers of claims and insurer market share.

The Board received an update on the implementation of SIRA’s strategy relating to Section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 – facilitating benefit pathways, support programs and return to work assistance for those claimants transitioning off weekly benefits in certain circumstances after five years. At this Meeting, the Board was provided proposed options for refining the implementation of the strategy, and considered updates to insurer guidance documentation and facts sheets which are due to be made available in May/June 2017.

Other issues considered at the May 2017 Board meeting included:

  • SIRA’s approach to setting levies to fund the Dust Diseases Scheme considering analysis of actual Dust Disease claim rates and costs by industry.
  • A progress update on Government reform of the Home Building Compensation Scheme.
  • An update on People and Culture programs in SIRA:
    • In early May, Uncle Allen Madden performed a moving Welcome to Country ceremony at SIRA’s new home in the McKell Building, Sydney. Uncle Allen is a Gadigal Elder, a Board Member of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and a highly respected member of the Redfern Aboriginal Community. I had the privilege also of speaking at the ceremony.
    • The SIRA Executive Leadership Team is progressing the establishment of a SIRA people and culture executive committee and a people and culture strategy.
    • The SIRA Acting Chief Executive has signed a pledge as a commitment to one of the recent successful staff innovation projects, ‘Move more sit less’.
    • BRD/SIRA staff forums have been held in the Sydney CBD and Gosford locations, with a range of cross-team presentations.
    • The Dispute Resolution Services Great Place to Work team is continuing their program to improve the wellness and safety of others in the workplace by giving back to the community and raising almost $600 for Assistance Dogs Australia at their Easter celebrations, and commencing weekly fitness groups and a six-month Vitality program aimed at assisting staff to become their healthiest version.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

April communiqué

In March 2017 the Motor Accidents Injuries Bill 2017 (the Bill) was passed through both houses of the NSW Parliament. The Bill aims to achieve an increased proportion of benefits to seriously injured road users and reductions in the time it takes to resolve claims, instances of claims fraud and exaggeration, and the cost of (Compulsory Third Party) Green Slip premiums. At the April meeting, the Board reviewed the detailed planning aiming to introduce the new scheme in December 2017.

The SIRA Board also considered the Bill’s provision for Excess Profit and Loss Adjustment (profit normalisation) in the Motor Accident Injuries Compulsory Third Party (CTP) scheme. Further to the Board’s release in January 2017 of a report entitled Reforming Insurer Profit in Compulsory Third Party Motor Vehicle Insurance, SIRA has canvassed several options with insurers for a profit normalisation mechanism (PNM). The principles for the PNM were discussed.

Since becoming the NSW workers compensation regulator in September 2015, SIRA has identified opportunities and developed strategies to improve the supervision and regulation of insurers within the workers compensation system. At its meeting on 24 April, the SIRA Board focused its strategic discussion on the workers compensation Insurer Supervision Model and discussed opportunities to improve insurer and system performance rather than only respond to non-compliance.

The Board again received an update on SIRA’s ongoing strategy relating to Section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 – facilitating benefit pathways, support programs and return to work assistance for those claimants transitioning off weekly benefits in certain circumstances after five years. The monthly consideration of the impact and implementation of the strategy enables the Board to provide advice on options for refining the implementation to better meet the objectives of the workers compensation system.

Other issues considered at the April 2017 Board meeting included:

  • an update on government inquiries into the issue of autonomous vehicles, noting that the introduction of autonomous vehicles raises significant considerations for SIRA as the regulator of the NSW CTP scheme. States and territories around Australia have agreed to undertake a review of their CTP schemes within the next two years to identify any eligibility barriers to accessing these schemes by occupants of an autonomous vehicle, and subject to this review, substantial work will be needed to ensure any resulting reforms are nationally consistent. SIRA will continue to work with Transport for NSW and the National Transport Commission on this issue and provide updates to future Board meetings.
  • an update on an independent review of the existing Motor Accidents Insurance Regulation and Lifetime Care & Support levies. SIRA will in due course advise on the outcomes of the review.
  • a progress update on government reform of the Home Building Compensation Scheme.
  • an update on people and culture programs in SIRA designed to continue to build a high-performance, inclusive, customer-centred culture that supports employee wellbeing and offers rewarding careers making a difference for NSW:
    • Since the last Board meeting, the SIRA Executive Leadership Team has decided to establish a SIRA people and culture committee to lead an integrated program to build capability and culture.
    • The Acting Chief Executive of SIRA is a member of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation's (DFSI) Diversity Council, which is establishing seven DFSI Employee Resource Groups; and has recently become the executive sponsor for the employee resource group for people with disability.
    • SIRA’s existing Social, Networking, Opportunities, Wellbeing (SNOW) activities and groups have been aligned with the DFSI Great Place to Work (GPTW) strategy and Ambassador Network. Groups across the three SIRA sites have developed an integrated events calendar along with local activities.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

March communiqué

At its 27 March meeting, the Board continued an agreed series of strategic discussions, on this occasion focusing on claimant experience and outcomes within Workers Compensation Insurance. The Board noted SIRA’s progress in developing a strategy to improve outcomes for workers compensation claimants, including return to work and health and wellbeing outcomes.

Further to intensive SIRA consultation with stakeholders, the Board considered and approved a new Self-insurance Licensing framework. The Board noted that the implementation of the framework will be supported by a new self-insurer supervision model.

The Board also considered new proposed Guidelines for Workplace Return to Work Programs. Noting that SIRA had conducted consultation to develop new Guidelines to improve the customer experience, deliver improved return to work outcomes, and reduce regulatory burden, the Board was pleased to endorse the Guidelines for release.

The Board also received an update on the SIRA Data and Digital Strategy, designed to improve the customer experience for direct users of the NSW Motor Accidents (CTP) Scheme and the monitoring of the scheme.

Other issues considered at the March 2017 Board meeting included:

  • A progress update on CTP Scheme Reform.
  • An update on the transition strategy relating to Section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987, whereby SIRA is working with key stakeholders to facilitate benefit pathways, support programs and return to work assistance for those claimants facing the expiry of their benefits in certain circumstances after five years.
  • The requirements, implications and potential impact of adopting common guidelines for the evaluation of individuals’ permanent impairment status for both the workers compensation and CTP schemes in NSW. It was agreed that this is not feasible until the revised CTP system has matured somewhat.
  • Consideration of a background paper on the impact of lump sum compensation on injury recovery and return to work, including a summary of the available evidence on the impact of seeking financial compensation.
  • Government reform of the Home Building Compensation Scheme, and an update from actuaries on the Scheme.
  • An update on Staff Engagement activities underway across SIRA, and future planned activities for 2017 to improve culture, engagement and leadership including:
    • The staff survey specific to the Better Regulation Division (including SIRA) was launched, and closed on 17 March 2017. The analysis of survey results is underway and will inform the monitoring of progress against the NSW People Matter Employee Survey objectives.
    • The second divisional ‘Road to Success’ roadshow is on track to occur in May 2017, to deliver communications from the Deputy Secretary, Better Regulation and the Chief Executive, SIRA about key business priorities, mechanisms for engaging staff, and divisional culture.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

February communiqué

In late 2016, the SIRA Board agreed on a targeted program of regular strategic discussions. At its 23 February meeting, the Board focused on its inaugural strategic discussions for 2017. The Board discussed SIRA’s values and principles as a contemporary regulator – a foundation for future strategic discussions. The Board also thoroughly discussed Compulsory Third Party premium regulation, and endorsed SIRA’s documented risk-based regulatory approach to CTP premiums.

As part of the SIRA mandate to ensure better availability of premium information to insurers, the Board considered a policy proposal on Workers Compensation Financial and Premium Supervision. In endorsing the policy position, the Board approved revised Workers Compensation Market Practice and Premiums Guidelines and revised Workers Compensation Licensed Insurer Business Plan Guidelines, which were consulted on in 2016. SIRA anticipates publishing the revised Guidelines on 1 March 2017.

The Board reflected on further advice on the review and revision of capital and prudential requirement to inform implementation of an improved framework that will apply to the various types of insurers operating in the NSW workers compensation system. Noting the outcomes of SIRA consultation regarding prudential standards and security requirements of workers compensation insurers, the Board will consider the self-insurer licensing framework at its meeting in March 2017.

The Board also noted that SIRA is reviewing the capital requirements for Specialised Insurers (including a mix of private and Government insurers) through the current review of the Specialised Insurer licensing conditions.

As part of a rotating schedule of reporting to the Board on the operating performance of SIRA Dispute Resolution Services (DRS), the Board considered the 2016 Annual Calendar Year Update reflecting a high level overview of annual trends in the services. The Board was very pleased to note the high-quality presentation of the report, and the significant improvements and positive trends in services provision including evidence of significantly improved case management and decision making processes for special assessments of procedural disputes referred to Claims Assessment Resolution Services. This report will be made available as part of scheduled stakeholder engagement sessions in March 2017.

Detailed discussion ensued on the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Premium System Review and particularly the Risk Equalisation Mechanism (REM), a key instrument to provide better equity for consumers, pricing of risks for insurers, and strengthening of system integrity. Noting the planned start date of 1 May 2017 for the REM, the SIRA Board considered a number of critical issues impacting implementation. These included availability of a Clearing House Service Provider, the need for further review of the REM Deed and some current insurer filings, and an independent assessment of aspects of the REM commissioned in response to concerns raised with SIRA.

Acknowledging that any changes to implementing the REM may impact on insurers, the Board requested that CTP insurers be advised immediately after the Board Meeting of SIRA’s continued commitment to the REM and the Board-approved:

  • delay in the start date of the REM until 1 July 2017;
  • delay in the effective date of the Premium Determination Guidelines and the new Premium Relativities to the same date; and
  • that further information about the filing process for the 1 July effective date would soon be provided.

Other issues considered at the February 2017 Board meeting included:

  • CTP Scheme Reform, with the anticipated upcoming release of the findings of consultation on insurer profits and insurer claims handling and dispute resolution.
  • Home Building Compensation, noting a further status update will be provided at the Board Meeting in March 2017.

An update on Staff Engagement activities underway across SIRA, and future planned activities for 2017 to improve culture, engagement and leadership including:

  • The launch of a staff survey specific to the Better Regulation Division (including SIRA);
  • A 2017 staff engagement calendar developed to provide transparency on activities, plans and events; and
  • Introduction of an anonymous drop box as an avenue for staff to provide anonymous feedback, suggestions or complaints directly to the Deputy Secretary Better Regulation / Chief Executive SIRA.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

January communiqué

The calendar year schedule of Board Meetings generally commences in February.

The SIRA Board did not meet this month.

2016

December communiqué

At its last meeting for 2016, on 5 December 2016, the SIRA Board reflected on the progress made since the creation of SIRA, and commenced planning for 2017.

The Board considered the outcomes of SIRA’s review of the Nominal Insurer’s Valuation Report (June 2016), and recommendations regarding the valuation, as requested by the Minister.  Discussions included the:

  • application of APRA standards and target funding ratio/range;
  • impacts of s39 transition and legal costs on the system;
  • Nominal Insurer’s Capital Management Policy;
  • impacts for injured worker benefits; and
  • recommendations for future Nominal Insurer Valuations.

The Board will approve the final report to be delivered to Minister Dominello by the end of December 2016.

The Board also considered in detail the CTP Premium System Review and approved changes required to provide better equity for consumers, pricing of risks for insurers, and avoiding insurer gaming in the system. The Board reviewed a number of mechanisms, including Premium Relativities, the Risk Equalisation Mechanism, and Premium Determination and Market Practice and Business Plan Guidelines.

Other issues considered at the December 2016 Board meeting included:

  • The Workers Compensation Financial and Premium Supervision stakeholder feedback and policy considerations, with a Policy Proposal being finalised for Board consideration in February 2017.
  • CTP Scheme Reform – Progress on consultations led by SIRA Board members, at the request of Minister Dominello.  The consultations sought feedback on discussion papers for insurer profits and insurer claims handling and dispute resolutions.  The findings of this are expected to be released in early 2017.
  • The September 2016 quarterly reports for the Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) and the CTP Scheme.  The Board is enthusiastic about the DRS pilot program planned for early 2017 to bring a claims assessor in-house.  Also of particular interest, was the 33% increase in DRS lodgements resulting from CTP Scheme growth and the impressive finalisation of around 10,000 applications per year.
  • Staff Engagement activities underway across SIRA, including feedback from the Road to Success Program, the Chief Executive’s online Question and Answer sessions, and planned activities for 2017 to improve culture, engagement and leadership.
  • A 2017 targeted program for regular SIRA Board discussions around the range of strategic issues facing SIRA, including its values and principles as a contemporary regulator.

The Board would like to thank everyone at SIRA for your efforts during a very important formative year and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and relaxing holiday. The Board is looking forward to working with you to progress SIRA’s important role in 2017.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

November communiqué

At its meeting on 11 November 2016 the Board welcomed its newest member, Dr Graeme Innes AM, as a highly valuable addition to the SIRA Board as a well renowned disability advocate.

The Board held its meeting in SIRA’s Gosford Office for the first time since forming, and welcomed the opportunity to meet informally and hear direct from SIRA’s staff about their work.

The Board received a presentation from icare on its activities and key focus areas, including:

  • the current valuation, funding ratio, and forward outlook
  • customer experience improvements and journey mapping
  • insurer and claimant early engagement to understand the impacts of s39

s39 (which came into effect in October 2012) provides that an injured worker’s rights to weekly payments will cease after 5 years unless the worker’s permanent impairment has been assessed as over 20%.

The Board also considered its approach to the review of the current funding ratio, and how any surplus should be dealt with, as requested by Minister Dominello.  It was agreed an expert advisory panel would be established to support the Board, and noted that stakeholders had been invited to identify any issues for consideration.  The Board expects to complete its review by the end of the year.

The Board considered this also in light of SIRA’s approach to customer experience and the review of the Nominal Insurer valuation. Measuring Customer Experience – WHBCR strategic approach discussion paper will be released shortly, and includes key elements:

  • focusing on the customer journey
  • accessing variety of sources customer experience data to avoid over surveying and validate findings
  • recognising customer experience impacts on the health and wellbeing of individuals
  • setting a benchmark through qualitative and quantitative measures.

Other issues considered at the November 2016 Board meeting included:

  • The Board approved reductions in the Medical Care and Injury Services levy in response to recent premium increases.  This levy is applied to CTP premiums to fund the Lifetime Care and Support Scheme and SIRA’s costs of regulating the CTP Scheme.
  • The recent reforms announced by Minister Dominello including the review of insurer profits in the CTP Scheme,  and greater choice for homeowners through the Home Building Compensation Fund. Highlighted also was the amount of stakeholder consultation being undertaken to inform and implement the government’s reforms.
  • People Matter Survey results, key areas for improvement, Executive strategies and commitments, and regular reporting to the Board.  Key areas of focus are the effectiveness of the Staff Engagement Strategy, Data, Digital and ICT Strategy currently being implemented, and the Culture Strategy which is being drafted.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

October communiqué

At its meeting on 11 October 2016 the Board endorsed the first Workers Compensation System Performance Report.

This Report is intended to provide stakeholders with data and information about trends and key issues impacting the workers compensation system.  It includes a range of measures that reflect the statutory objectives of the system, including:

  • effectiveness - that injured workers receive care and medical treatment to support their return to work as soon as possible
  • efficiency - benefits for injured workers are delivered at the lowest feasible administrative cost
  • viability - the financial viability of the system
  • affordability - the cost of the system to the community.

The 2016 Report, which will be published on SIRA’s website, includes the following key outcomes:

  • the return to work rate has improved while the cost of premiums has reduced
  • the number of claimants receiving weekly benefits has reduced while the average amount paid per claimant has increased
  • disputes lodged with the Workers Compensation Commission (WCC) have slightly increased over the past two years.

SIRA intends to annually update the Workers Compensation System Performance Report, and is developing a discussion paper to consult stakeholders on how best to measure the customer experience of injured workers and employers.

Other issues considered at the October 2016 Board meeting included:

  • The Board approved the key issues in the re-design of the CTP Scheme premium system. A key feature of the proposed new system is the establishment of a “risk equalisation mechanism” (REM). The REM is intended to ensure that very low and high risk CTP policies are equitably distributed across insurers, both to reduce opportunity for excessive insurer profits and achieve fair and affordable premiums for motorists.
  • The Board also agreed to review the Medical Care and Injury Services levy at its next meeting. This levy is applied to CTP premiums to fund the Lifetime Care and Support Scheme and SIRA’s costs of regulating the CTP Scheme.
  • It is anticipated the levy, which is expressed as a percentage of CTP premiums, will be decreased in response to recent premium increases.
  • The Board approved the investment strategy for the workers compensation Insurers’ Guarantee Fund. This Fund was established to provide benefits for workers in cases where the insurer has been declared insolvent. It currently funds claims of several insolvent insurers that operated under the pre-1987 privately underwritten system.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

September communiqué

Earlier this year, SIRA commenced a review of the CTP Scheme premium system in response to the recommendations of the Insurer Profit Review.  The premium system review has the aims of:

  • Improving the affordability of premiums for vehicle owners.
  • Reducing the opportunity for excessive profits for insurers.
  • Increasing competition between insurers and encouraging new entrants.

The premium system review complements other initiatives to improve the fairness and affordability of the CTP Scheme, including the proposed reforms to CTP Scheme coverage and benefits, and the establishment of the CTP Fraud Taskforce.

At its meeting on 9 September 2016, the Board considered the key issues and options in the re-design of the CTP premium system, and agreed to convene a Board workshop to review actuarial modelling of the options to assess their impact on premium levels for different classes of driver and vehicle.

The Board also considered data on payments made by insurers to high-volume, low-risk customers such as motor dealers and fleet owners.  The Insurer Profit Review recommended insurers be required to report these costs to assist in determining whether a cap should be applied on these payments.

Other issues considered at the September Board meeting included;

  • The Board considered the report of the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice on its first biannual review of the CTP Scheme since SIRA was established.  It was noted most issues raised in the Committee’s report will be addressed in the proposed reforms to the CTP Scheme and the review of the CTP premium system.
  • The Board reviewed the draft Workers Compensation Financial and Premium Supervision Discussion Paper.  The Discussion Paper seeks stakeholder comments on the proposed approach to premium setting for 2016/17 and proposed regulations for prudential standards for insurers. The Discussion Paper will be published on the SIRA website and submissions invited.

August communique

At its meeting on 10 August 2016, the Board was pleased to endorse the revised draft Guidelines for workplace return to work programs.  The Guidelines were originally published by WorkCover Authority in 2010 and required revision to reflect subsequent changes to the workers compensation legislation.

The revised draft Guidelines simplify and update requirements for training of workplace return to work coordinators and consultation on workplace return to work programs.  They also reflect a cultural shift towards promoting recovery at work and utilising more direct pathways to returning to employment.

The revised draft Guidelines will be issued for public consultation in September 2016 before they are finalised and approved.

Other issues considered at the August 2016 Board meeting included:

  • An update on activities to address CTP Scheme claims integrity. SIRA has recently undertaken analysis on high frequency accident locations, and is currently working with insurers to improve the effectiveness of their fraud detection strategies.
  • A summary of the consultation outcomes and non-confidential submissions on the proposed remaking of the Workers Compensation Regulation 2010 have been published on the SIRA website. The 2010 Regulation is subject to automatic repeal under generally applicable regulatory review requirements and the new 2016 Regulation will commence before 1 September 2016.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

Note: The 2010 Workplace return to work programs guidelines has been superseded by the 2017 Workplace return to work programs guidelines.

July communique

At its meeting on 15 July 2016, the Board was pleased to endorse the draft SIRA Strategic Plan 2016-17, which articulates the SIRA purpose and mission and describes the planning framework and structure to support these.

The Plan has been designed to position SIRA as an innovative regulator, providing efficient, modern and connected services and aligns us to the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation outcomes of increasing customer satisfaction for individuals, groups and businesses.

The strategic focus and programs of work for 2016-17 cover claimant experiences and outcomes in relation to scheme design; data/digital innovation; insurer performance; and service provider performance. Underpinning the plan is a philosophy of efficient, evidence-based and outcomes focused regulation.

The Plan will shortly be published and made available on the SIRA website.

The SIRA Board was updated on developments on strategic options for the reform of the CTP Scheme. The Government has approved a hybrid no-fault defined benefit scheme that maintains common law for the more seriously injured.

The Board also noted progress by a recently established independent expert reference panel comprising Mr John Della Bosca, Discourse Consulting, and Ms Nancy Milne, Deputy Chair of the SIRA Board. The reference panel and technical working groups including relevant stakeholders and service providers will assist SIRA to design the new scheme and its processes in detail, and to provide advice to Government for the formulation of a Bill that will be tabled in Parliament.

The Board also noted an update on CTP insurance for point-to-point transport. The Government has announced that it will introduce an innovative new pricing system for taxis and ride-share services that will make premiums fairer and more affordable.

The CTP reform package will provide SIRA with the power to establish a new premium setting process for point-to-point vehicles which will ensure CTP insurance accurately reflects a motor vehicle’s risk and usage, as well as rewarding safe driving. Legislation has also been passed giving SIRA increased powers to collect necessary data from point-to-point transport providers to assist in setting usage-based premiums.

A website, http://greenslipreforms.nsw.gov.au/, has been launched to promote ongoing engagement with scheme stakeholders and the community.

Further to the successful completion of the first stage in implementing the workers compensation “file and write” premium system, the 2016/17 versions of the Market Practice and Premiums Guidelines and the Licensed Insurer Business Plan Guidelines were published in May/June 2016 and issued for a fixed period until March 2017.

In line with the staged approach to implementation committed to by SIRA, the Board noted the proposed approach for the next stage of stakeholder consultation on development of revised guidelines for 2017/18, and prudential standards for insurers.

Since the Board approved the draft Home Building Compensation Fund (HBCF) Premium Assessment - Objectives and Principles at its May 2016 meeting, SIRA has consulted with the Scheme Actuaries. At its 15 July meeting, the Board approved the next iteration of the Objectives and Principles.

The Board also noted the progress of proposals for the reform of the HBCF, and that the Objectives and Principles provide a transitional approach to premium assessment. A more detailed approach will be developed once the Government’s HBCF legislative reform program is in place. Further consultation with stakeholders in late July / August 2016 will inform development of this legislation.

Other issues considered at the July 2016 Board meeting included:

  • The Board noted progress on development of a new operating model for a workers and home building compensation insurer supervision model. The model seeks to take into account insurer compliance and performance, monitoring culture and behavioural approach within insurer agencies.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

June communique

The 6 June 2016 meeting of the SIRA Board marked the achievement of several milestones in establishing SIRA’s workers compensation regulatory functions.

The Nominal Insurer and specialised insurers filed their proposed premiums for 2016/17 with SIRA on 16 May 2016, as required by the Market Practice and Premium Determination Guidelines approved by the Board in late April 2016.

The Board noted SIRA’s assessment of the proposed filings for compliance with the Guidelines on 3 June 2016, and has advised the insurers that SIRA has no objections to the proposed premiums.

As required by the Guidelines, icare has proposed minimal changes to the Nominal Insurer’s premium formula and industry rates for 2015/16.  The Nominal Insurer’s 2016/17 industry premium rates will be published on icare’s website.

The Board was pleased to note the successful conclusion of the first stage in implementing the new “file and write” premium system.  Later this year, SIRA will commence consulting stakeholders on improvements to premium guidelines for 2017/18 and new prudential standards for insurers to ensure the ongoing viability of the NSW workers compensation system.

The Board has also endorsed SIRA’s Licensed Insurer Business Plan Guidelines, which will apply to the Nominal Insurer and specialised insurers.  The Board noted the changes to the Guidelines as a result of consultation with stakeholders, including aligning the SIRA and APRA deadlines for submission of business plans.

The Board noted the Guidelines require insurers’ business plans to specifically address their NSW workers compensation service delivery activities.  This is intended to minimise overlap with APRA’s Internal Capital Adequacy Assessment Process (ICAAP) requirements, which focus on the insurer capital and risk management controls.

In addition, the Board endorsed the commencement of a further round of stakeholder consultation on the proposed licensing framework for self-insurers.  The draft framework has been revised following the first round of consultation with self-insurers in late 2015.

Other issues considered at the June 2016 Board meeting included:

  • The Board endorsed the draft Better Regulation Division Stakeholder Engagement Strategy, which applies to both SIRA and SafeWork NSW, and has been developed in consultation with key stakeholder groups. The Strategy:
    • highlights our commitment to genuine and effective stakeholder consultation.  It covers all SIRA’s stakeholders, from claimants, their families, through to insurance, medical and rehabilitation service providers, business groups and unions, and road safety and disability advocacy organisations.
    • outlines a range of methods SIRA will adopt for engaging with stakeholders based on the best practice guidelines issued by the International Association for Public Participation. The Board was pleased to note the Strategy includes the establishment of an independently chaired Injured Workers Feedback Panel for use as a sounding board when making decisions affecting injured workers.
  • The Board also received confidential updates on the development of proposals for the reform of the CTP Scheme, improvements to the CTP premium system, and fairer premiums for point to point transport providers including taxi, hire car and rideshare services.
    • It is anticipated the Government will finalise these reforms in the coming months, with a view to implementing a new, fairer and affordable CTP Scheme in 2017.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

May communique

At its meeting on 9 May 2016, the SIRA Board confirmed its approval of the Workers Compensation Market Practice and Premium Determination Guidelines for 2016/17 after considering changes arising from stakeholder consultation on the draft Guidelines.

The Guidelines set out principles against which the proposed 2016/17 premiums of the Nominal Insurer and specialised insurers will be assessed.  The Guidelines require the Nominal Insurer to retain all key features of the premiums formula set out in the 2015/16 Insurance Premiums Order to ensure stability in employer premiums and have now been published on SIRA’s website. The Minister has approved the commencement of Act and regulation amendments to facilitate the new “file and write” approach to setting premiums.

Under the new approach, insurers must submit their proposed premium filing for 2016/17 to SIRA by 16 May 2016. SIRA then has four weeks to assess insurer premium filings for compliance with the Guidelines.  It is anticipated the industry premium rates for 2016/17 will be published on the SIRA website in mid- June 2016.

The Board noted stakeholder consultation on the draft 2016/17 Guidelines identified a range of potential improvements to setting workers compensation premiums that will be considered in the development of Guidelines for 2017/18 premiums.

The Board also approved the 2016/17 employer contributions to the Workers Compensation Dust Diseases Fund proposed by icare, noting there was no change from 2015/16 contribution rates.

Other issues considered at the May 2016 Board meeting included:

  • The Board approved changes to the CTP Scheme Premium Determination Guidelines to give effect to three recommendations of the Insurer Profit Review. The changes were developed in consultation with insurers and Scheme stakeholders. The changes require CTP insurers to provide more detailed justification of key assumptions in their premiums filings, with the objective of keeping premiums affordable by reducing the scope for excessive profits.
  • The Board endorsed the publication of new Guidelines for claiming workers compensation benefits. The Guidelines are intended to ensure sound decision making by insurers, consistent with the principles of fairness, timeliness, open communication with injured workers, employers and service providers. The new Guidelines replace four existing Guidelines and incorporate the 2015 reforms to workers compensation benefits. They were developed in consultation with stakeholders to address the recommendation of the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice that existing Guidelines should be simplified and consolidated.
  • The Board was pleased to note the Minister’s announcement of additional support for injured workers to return to work, effective 29 April 2016. Workers who are unable to return to work with their pre-injury employer and need assistance in starting with a new employer, are eligible for up to $1000 to meet the costs of transport, child care, work clothing, training or equipment. Seriously injured workers on weekly benefits for longer than 78 weeks are eligible for up to $8000 in the education or training to assist their return to work. The new Guidelines for claiming workers compensation benefits include guidance on claiming for these new types of return to work assistance.
  • The Board also received confidential briefings on the outcomes of stakeholder consultation of options for the reform of the CTP Scheme and options for CTP insurance premiums for point to point transport.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

April communique

One of the principal objectives of SIRA is to promote the efficiency and viability of the insurance schemes established under the NSW workers compensation legislation.

Three distinct types of insurer provide insurance services under the NSW workers compensation scheme:

  • Specialised insurers covering specific industry sectors including coal mines, horse racing, pharmacies, hospitality, local councils and the Catholic Church. Specialised insurers comprise about 5% of the NSW workers compensation market.
  • Self-insurers or large companies that manage and fund the workers compensation claims of their own employees. There are currently over 50 self-insurers, including the NSW public sector insurer, the Treasury Managed Fund. Self-insurers cover about 22% of the NSW workers compensation market.
  • By far the largest NSW insurer is the Nominal Insurer managed by Insurance and Care NSW (icare), which provides insurance services through contracted Scheme agents to the remaining 73% of the NSW workers compensation market.

At its meeting on 5 April 2016, the SIRA Board meeting received a comprehensive presentation from Vivek Bhatia, Chief Executive of icare, Nick Allsop, Chief Actuary and John Nagle, Executive General Manager Workers Insurance on the current financial position of the Nominal Insurer.

Mr Allsop advised that the preliminary results of the recent actuarial valuation indicated the impact of the Government 2015 benefits reforms was within expectations with an additional $800m being directed to enhanced benefits and services for seriously injured workers.

Mr Nagle advised it is anticipated there will be no significant changes to the premium formula and industry rates for 2016/17, but icare will continue to gradually eliminate cross-subsidies across industry sectors and strengthen incentives and support for employers to improve safety and return to work outcomes.

Mr Bhatia also briefed the Board on icare’s three–year strategy to transform the organisation into a world class, customer-focussed provider of insurance and care services. The Board was particularly interested in icare’s initiatives to improve customer service by simplifying claim procedures and developing a centralised online system for managing claims, policies and premiums.

Other issues considered at the April 2016 Board meeting included:

  • The Board approved proposed improvements to claims handling and medical guidelines for CTP insurers to enhance the efficient delivery of care and support for injured motorists and to improve the detection and management of exaggerated and fraudulent claims.
  • The new guidelines were developed in close consultation with insurers, and the legal and medical professions, and are expected to come into effect in June 2016.
  • The Chief Executive sought the Board’s comment on the review of SIRA’s executive structure in line with Public Service Commission guidelines. The Board noted the review provides an opportunity to drive efficiencies and enhance SIRA’s performance in strategic functions common to the regulation of workers compensation and motor accidents insurance schemes, including data analytics, medical services, dispute resolution and compliance. It will also clarify the extent of SIRA’s involvement in the integrated delivery of SIRA, SafeWork and Fair Trading customer support and regulatory services as part of the Commerce Regulation Project.
  • The Board noted the outcomes of the first meeting of the Taskforce established by the NSW Government to make recommendations on strategies to deter, detect and respond to unmeritorious and fraudulent CTP claims.
  • Early outcomes of the Taskforce include the introduction of a CTP Fraud Hotline (1800 600 444).
  • The Board was pleased to note the active involvement of stakeholder groups, legal and medical services regulators and the NSW Police in the Taskforce, and their commitment to zero tolerance for fraud in the NSW CTP Scheme.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

March communique

The SIRA Board was pleased to welcome Victor Dominello, Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation to the Board’s meeting on 7 March 2016.

The Minister noted SIRA had a key role to play in achieving Government priorities to make NSW the easiest state in which to start a business, increase the proportion of digital transactions and improve customer satisfaction with Government services.

The Minister noted the advantages of digital transactions over paper-based transactions in improving the efficiency of Government service delivery and reducing costs and red tape for business and the community.

In addition, he noted digitisation enabled faster and more effective reporting and analysis of data, and the development of better and more refined data sets that would enhance Government policy development and evaluation.

The Minister urged the Board to make SIRA a “leading light” in implementing increased digitisation and improved use of data.

The Board strongly supports the Minister’s emphasis on improving SIRA’s data analysis and reporting capabilities, and noted there are massive opportunities to increase digitisation and reduce paperwork in statutory insurance schemes.

The Board will hold a planning workshop in early May 2016 to consider priorities and funding for strategies to drive digitisation and innovation in SIRA’s data systems in the development of SIRA’s 2016/17 business plan.

The Board also agreed that Board agenda papers on legislative reforms and policy proposals should include a section on the implications for data systems and opportunities for improving data systems to enhance future decision-making.

The Minister also briefed the Board on the Government’s plans to consult stakeholders on a range of options for reform of the CTP Scheme, and to publish the Report on the Independent Review of Insurer Profit in the CTP Scheme.

The Minister emphasised the Government’s determination to implement CTP Scheme reforms by the end of 2016 to lower Greenslip premiums, more efficiently manage minor severity claims and enable a greater focus on care and support for the seriously injured.

The CTP Scheme Reform Options Paper was subsequently issued for public comment on 11 March 2016, and is now available on the SIRA website.

The Minister also welcomed the Board’s support for the establishment of the CTP Scheme Fraud Taskforce to develop strategies to address the alarming rise in suspected fraudulent and exaggerated claims.

Other issues considered at the March 2016 Board meeting included:

  • Anthony Lean provided a briefing on the impact on SIRA of the Commerce Regulation Project launched within the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation in February 2016.  The initial phase of this Project will examine opportunities for aligning the advisory services and workplace inspection programs of NSW Fair Trading, SafeWork NSW and SIRA, to improve customer service and reduce compliance costs for business.
  • The Board approved the release of the Discussion Paper on the proposed new approach to developing premium rates for the workers compensation insurance system.  The Discussion Paper seeks comment on draft Guidelines against which SIRA will assess the fairness and affordability of the premiums proposed by icare and specialised insurers for 2016/17.
  • The Board also approved the release for consultation of options to ensure fair and affordable premiums for taxis, hire-cars and ridesharing services such as UberX and GoCar.  The Discussion Paper on CTP Insurance for Point-to-Point Transport will be released for comment during March 2016.
  • The Board considered further actuarial advice on options to adjust the Reference Base Rate (RBR) in the Greenslip premium formula.  The RBR determines the level of cross-subsidisation between good and high risk policies.  It was agreed it would be prudent to maintain the RBR at its current level, pending progress in initiatives to reduce premium costs including the CTP Scheme Reform Options Paper and CTP Scheme Fraud Taskforce.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

February communique

One of SIRA’s key functions as the new regulator of NSW statutory insurance schemes is to develop and implement a new approach to setting premiums for workers compensation insurance.

Under the old approach, the former WorkCover Authority issued an annual Insurance Premium Order (IPO) which set out the premium calculation formula and the base premium rates for all NSW industry sectors.

The IPO for 2015/16 included significant reforms to premium calculation, including new discounts and rewards for improved claims and safety performance, and the removal of end-of-year premium adjustments based on claims experience.

Under the new approach to setting premiums for worker compensation insurance:

  • SIRA will develop and issue Market Practice and Premiums Guidelines.
  • The Guidelines will require insurers to submit proposed premiums and supporting information justifying the proposed premiums to SIRA.
  • SIRA may reject the proposed premiums if they do not comply with the Guidelines.

At its February 2016 meeting the SIRA Board considered the proposed approach and timeframes for developing and implementing the new approach.  It was acknowledged that any significant changes to the way premiums are determined will require consultation with stakeholders and sufficient lead time to enable changes to be effectively communicated and implemented.

A Discussion Paper on the proposed Guidelines for 2016/17 will be issued to insurers and stakeholders for four weeks comment in March 2016, before the Guidelines are finalised and issued during April 2016.

The February 2016 SIRA Board meeting also considered the report of an investigation into the significant increase of legally represented minor severity claims in the CTP Scheme. This trend appears to be related to changes in claimant and service provider behaviour, rather than an increase in the incidence of accidents.

The Board noted the increase in the number and cost of these claims is placing upward pressure on Greenslip premiums.

SIRA is working with representatives from NSW Police, legal and medical services regulators and peak bodies and is developing strategies to respond to the causes of this claims trend.

Other issues considered by the February 2016 Board meeting included:

  • The proposed process and timeframes for SIRA’s assessment of proposed Home Builders Compensation Fund (HBCF) insurance premiums for 2016/17, and the Government’s response to the HBCF Reforms Options Paper issued in December 2015.
  • Actuarial advice on options for adjusting the Reference Base Rate (RBR) used in the calculation of CTP Scheme premiums.  The RBR determines the level of cross-subsidisation in the CTP Scheme and is intended to ensure the premiums for high-risk policies are affordable.  The Board requested further advice on how changes to the RBR would affect Greenslip premiums.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

January communique

The calendar year schedule of Board Meetings generally commences in February.

The SIRA Board did not meet this month.

2015

December communique

The governing Board of SIRA, the new independent regulator of NSW’s statutory insurance schemes, met on 7 December 2015. It was the first meeting of the SIRA Board since Minister Dominello appointed the inaugural members of the Board in November 2015.

At the meeting the Board developed its Charter and Code of Conduct. The Board’s Charter sets out its roles and responsibilities in setting the general policies and strategic direction of the SIRA, and reporting to the Minister on the performance of its activities.  The Code of Conduct sets out our commitment to performing our role with integrity and impartiality. Both the Charter and the Code of Conduct will be published on the SIRA website.

The Chief Executive provided the Board with a comprehensive briefing on progress in establishing the SIRA through the integration of relevant staff and resources of the former WorkCover and Motor Accidents authorities and NSW Fair Trading’s Home Building Compensation Fund secretariat.

The Board also reviewed progress in developing SIRA’s first annual Business Plan. The Plan will set out the timeframes for implementing the Government’s key priorities for promoting the efficiency and viability of state insurance schemes and the key indicators for measuring scheme performance and customer satisfaction.

The key Government priorities to be implemented through the Business Plan include:

  • rolling out enhancements to benefits for injured workers, more effective return to work assistance for seriously injured workers;
  • implementing a pricing and prudential framework for workers compensation insurers to ensure benefits and services for injured workers are fully funded by premiums that are risk-based, fair and affordable for employers;
  • developing options for reforming the Home Building Compensation Fund to ensure consumers are protected from faulty or incomplete work on their homes, while minimising red tape for home builders.

Other issues considered by the Board at its December 2015 meeting include:

  • approving of levies on Greenslip premiums for 2016/17 to fund SIRA’s regulatory activities in relation to the CTP scheme and medical and support services under the Lifetime Care and Support Scheme;
  • the recommendations of the Independent Review of Insurer Profit in the CTP Scheme;
  • improvements to CTP premium setting guidelines to ensure fair and risk-based premiums for large fleets and vehicles with conditional registration or unregistered vehicle permits;
  • the progress in consultation with stakeholders on the eligibility criteria and licensing standards for workers compensation self-insurers, and injured workers’ access to legal advice during reviews of their work capacity.

The Board would like to acknowledge the effort of SIRA staff in effecting the smooth transition to the new organisational structure and progressing the implementation of the Government’s key priorities, while maintaining core regulatory and customer services.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board