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