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New laws make it easier for firefighters to claim compensation

media release | 24/10/2018

Firefighters who develop cancer will now be able to claim workers compensation entitlements and support more easily thanks to NSW Government reforms being introduced into Parliament today.

The new laws will enable eligible firefighters diagnosed with one of 12 cancers, who also meet certain employment periods, to automatically be presumed to have acquired that cancer because of their firefighting work.

Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello said the changes will ensure that firefighters who need care and support receive their entitlements immediately.

“Firefighters risk their lives every day to keep the people of NSW safe, and they deserve our complete support,” Mr Dominello said.

“The new legislation, which covers both career and volunteer firefighters, will be effective immediately, and make the process of claiming compensation much easier.”

Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said the laws recognise the invaluable service provided by our firefighters, who do a tremendous job in and for the community, often under very difficult circumstances.

“This is all about protecting those in our community who dedicate their lives to protecting us in our time of need,” Mr Grant said.

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Deputy Commissioner Mal Connellan welcomed the proposed changes.

“The amendments reverse the onus of proof for firefighters and do not impose a limit on accessing the provision post-employment, which will ensure our firefighters, who risk their own life and health to protect the people of NSW, promptly receive their entitlements when they need it most,” Deputy Commissioner Connellan said.

NSW RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said the new legislation would ensure that volunteer firefighters would have access to compensation that is in line with other states and territories.

“Our firefighters have always taken care of our communities so it’s important we take care of them, and this Bill will allow those diagnosed with cancer to concentrate on their treatment and recovery,” Deputy Commissioner Rogers said.

There will be no changes to existing workers compensation benefits and entitlements, which firefighters can claim for work-related injuries and diseases, including cancers.

The Government’s Bill does not contain any post-employment limitations on making a claim.

FRNSW, RFS, and other organisations were consulted over the past year. In recent years, similar provisions have been introduced in most other states and territories and the Commonwealth.

Find out more about the reforms.