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March communiqué

In line with the new way of working SIRA board members attended the March meeting by connecting remotely via Skype. It is taking a while for all of us to adjust to the new operating conditions, but the meeting proceeded satisfactorily. The first item on the agenda was a discussion, led by the CE, about the steps we are taking to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, particularly:

  • looking after the safety and welfare of all staff
  • adapting Policy and operations to the new environment to mitigate the impact on injured people, businesses and the health system and
  • activating business continuity measures to support SIRA operations and employees for the foreseeable future.

Dr Abby Bloom, Chair of SIRA’s Audit and Risk Committee mentioned a recent interim Audit and Risk Committee meeting held to discuss the problems identified by the Nominal Insurer (managed by icare) with the initial PIAWE calculation. These are to be addressed by a PIAWE Review and Remediation Plan. The Board was updated on feedback provided to icare and progress in the finalisation of that plan.

Board Members were also updated on the progress on the joint SIRA and icare 21-point Action Plan developed in response to the Compliance and Performance Review of the Workers Compensation (WC) Nominal Insurer scheme.

A separate agenda item was an update about icare’s 2020-21 Home Building Compensation Fund premium filing. Members discussed the filing currently under review.

Board Members noted progress updates on SIRA’s Health Care Review program including submissions in response to the Regulatory requirements for health care and work-related hearing loss in the NSW workers compensation public consultations. The major objective of this review is to develop a new outcomes framework containing principles for SIRA’s approach and actions to achieve improved health and experience outcomes for injured people in the WC and Compulsory Third Party (CTP) schemes. A final report is expected to be published in the second half of 2020.

Each year SIRA sponsors a research program, SIRA’s Outcomes and Applied Research (SOAR), which is funded at the rate of $1 per CTP policy and $1 per NSW worker. This provides funds of about $10 million per annum. SIRA commissioned Professor Niki Ellis to review this program last year and at this meeting she presented her nine recommendations for improvement. These were readily accepted by the Board.

Board Members approved the publication of several 1999 and 2017 CTP Scheme Performance Reports including analysis of accident data to 30 June 2018 and to 30 June 2019.

Other matters at the March 2020 Board meeting included:

  • Ms Nancy Milne, OAM, Chair of the CTP Premium Committee provided an overview of key premium-related matters raised at its meeting earlier in the month.
  • Updates on the uptake of support programs and other initiatives available for workers affected by section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 who have subsequently been affected by section 59A of the Act.
  • A progress report on several matters relating to the CTP scheme.

Board members thanked the executive for stepping up to the recent challenges and encouraged everyone to follow the personal and social conditions necessary to limit the damage caused by the virus.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson

SIRA Board