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 2019 Review of the firefighter provisions of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988

The Department of Jobs and Small Business has commenced a review into the firefighter provisions of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act).

The review is being conducted with assistance from Professor Tim Driscoll, an independent consultant in epidemiology, occupational health and public health.

Background

On 7 December 2011, the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Fair Protection for Firefighters) Act 2011 amended the disease provisions contained in section 7 of SRC Act, introducing the firefighter provisions. The provisions include a presumption of liability for 12 prescribed cancers suffered by firefighters diagnosed on or after 4 July 2011, who meet certain qualifying requirements. The link between these cancers and firefighting was pivotal to the development of the provisions.

The SRC Act covers firefighters for the ACT Government, Airservices Australia and the Department of the Environment and Energy. The presumption of liability does not apply to volunteer firefighters, which reflected the state of scientific knowledge at the time the firefighter provisions were introduced.

The Australian Government commissioned a review of the firefighter provisions of the SRC Act that was undertaken by Ms Raelene Sharp and finalised on 24 December 2013 (the 2013 Review). The 2013 Review found that, based on the evidence available at the time, the list of prescribed cancers remained appropriate. However, it noted that the evidence was continuing to evolve, and recommended that the Government conduct a further review of the firefighter provisions in five years to consider any further developments in the scientific literature.

The 2013 Review also recommended that the further review consider whether lung cancer in non-smokers should be included in the list of prescribed cancers, and if the determination process for the prescribed cancers is achieving the efficiencies intended by the firefighter provisions of the SRC Act.

The Government accepted these recommendations, all of which will be considered in this review. More information, including the final report, is available at the 2013 review page.

Terms of Reference for the 2019 Review

The review will inquire into and report on whether the firefighter provisions of the SRC Act continue to be appropriate in light of developments in the scientific literature and any other new information, in particular whether:

  • the qualifying periods for the current list of prescribed cancers should be reduced
  • there are any further diseases that warrant inclusion in the list prescribed at subsection 7(8) of the SRC Act
  • lung cancer in non-smokers should be included among the listed cancers and, if so, any appropriate qualifying conditions, and
  • the presumption of liability for prescribed cancers should be expanded to include volunteer firefighters and, if so, any appropriate qualifying conditions.

The review will also consider if the determination process applied to claims by firefighters for the prescribed cancers continues to achieve the efficiencies intended by the firefighter provisions of the SRC Act.

Current Status

The review is currently in its consultation phase. Key stakeholders have been invited to make submissions to the review.

Following a targeted stakeholder consultation and submission process, a final report will be prepared for consideration by Government.

For more information you can contact the department at WorkerscompensationPolicy@jobs.gov.au.

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