Review of the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992
We have engaged Professor Tim Driscoll, an independent consultant in epidemiology, occupational health and public health, to undertake a review of the specified diseases and employment declared for the purpose of the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 (Seafarers Act).
The Seacare scheme is established under the Seafarers Act and the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993. It provides work health and safety, workers' compensation and rehabilitation arrangements for approximately 4400 employees in the maritime industry.
Most jurisdictions in Australia have a 'deemed diseases list' as part of their workers' compensation system. It lists diseases that are deemed to be work‑related. In doing so, it reverses the onus of proof. That is, if a worker has a listed disease and was subject to the relevant exposure in the course of their work, it is assumed that they developed the disease because of the exposure (unless there is strong evidence to the contrary).
Diseases that are not included on the 'deemed diseases list' can still be the subject of a workers' compensation claim through the normal approach. However, the onus of proof reversal would not apply. The 'deemed diseases list' approach simplifies relevant claims on the assumption that there is a high likelihood that the disease has arisen as a result of work‑related exposures.
The Notice of Declarations and Specifications 1993 (current Seafarers Notice), which contains the 'deemed diseases list' for the Seacare scheme, has not been relevantly updated since it was made. It does not include some diseases for which there is strong contemporaneous evidence of a causal link to work‑related exposures.
Find out more about the background to this review, including the addition of minimum employment periods into the proposed instrument, in our Terms of reference.
Terms of reference for the review
The purpose of the review is to examine a proposed replacement specified diseases and employment instrument (the proposed instrument) to ensure it is appropriate for the Seacare scheme. The proposed instrument is the same as the equivalent instrument made under the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988, with the exception that it will be an instrument made under the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992. The department has engaged an epidemiologist to consider scientific and any other relevant evidence to advise on:
- Whether any additional occupational diseases should be included for the Seacare scheme.
- If an occupational disease should be included, what employment-related causative factors and what, if any, minimum employment period should apply in relation to that disease.
- Whether any minimum employment period(s) should be amended for the Seacare scheme.
- If the minimum employment period for a particular disease should be amended from the SRC Act Instrument for the Seacare scheme, what minimum employment period should apply in relation to that disease.
We have invited key stakeholders to provide submissions by Friday 30 October 2020. We will consider their input, which we will use to inform the final outcome. To find out more email us at firstname.lastname@example.org