Workers compensation bulletin - issue 57

In this edition: NSW Parliament passes firefighters presumptive cancer Bill.

NSW Parliament passes firefighters presumptive cancer Bill

The NSW Parliament has passed the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment (Firefighters) Bill 2018, making it easier for eligible firefighters diagnosed with specified primary cancers to claim workers compensation entitlements. The Government Bill was passed by Parliament on 22 November 2018.

The new law enables paid and volunteer firefighters diagnosed with one of 12 specified primary cancers, who also meet corresponding qualifying employment or volunteer service periods, to automatically be presumed to have developed the cancer because of their firefighting work or service.

The automatic presumption applies to eligible firefighters with any of the 12 primary cancers diagnosed on or after 27 September 2018. A firefighter who previously had a claim denied because they were unable to prove a link between the cancer and their employment, can make a new claim under the presumption.

Paid, volunteer, current and former firefighters from the following organisations can access the presumption:

  • Fire and Rescue NSW
  • NSW Rural Fire Service
  • Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service)
  • Forestry Corporation of NSW
  • Sydney Trains

The presumption does not apply to volunteers in a NSW Fire and Rescue Community Fire Unit.

While there is no post-employment time limitation on making a claim, an insurer can dispute the presumption by proving that the claimant's cancer is not related to their past or present work or volunteer service as a firefighter.

Fire and Rescue NSW, the NSW Rural Fire Service, the Fire Brigade Employees Union and other organisations were consulted over the past year and have collectively contributed to the new law which ensures that firefighters are treated fairly by the workers compensation system.

In recent years, similar presumptive provisions have been introduced in most other states and territories and the Commonwealth.

The new law ensures that firefighters who work to protect the lives and property of the people and communities of NSW are provided with protection and support when they and their families need it most.

SIRA is working with the NSW Government to ensure that the Legislation is commenced on 1 January 2019 as noted in Parliament yesterday.

Learn more about the Firefighters Bill via the SIRA website.