New Workers Compensation Amendment Bill Introduced to NSW Parliament

Monday 8 October 2018 @ 10.08 a.m. | Legal Research

The Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (NSW) (the “Bill”) was introduced to the NSW Legislative Council on 19 September 2018, by NSW Minister for Resources, Energy & Utilities, and the Arts, Don Harwin.  The Bill was introduced to the House of Assembly on 26 September 2018, where it is currently before the House.


According to the Bill’s Explanatory Note (the “EN”), it is anticipated that the proposed amendments will:

“ … reform dispute resolution processes relating to work capacity decisions as follows:

(i) by abolishing the existing system review (involving internal review, merit review and procedural review) and restoring the jurisdiction of the Workers Compensation Commission (the Commission) to determine disputes,

(ii) by consolidating notice requirements to enable insurers to combine notice of liability disputes and the discontinuation or reduction of weekly payments of compensation into a single notice …”

The Amendments

The Bill proposes to amend the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW) and the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 (NSW).

The Bill would also makes amendments consequent on the enactment of the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 to align entitlements to compensation and damages under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 for workers injured in a motor accident with the entitlements applicable to all other injured workers.

The proposed amendments were designed after the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice (the “Committee”) conducted a second review of the workers compensation scheme and identified changes to be made.

The Committee recommended the Government establish a “one-stop shop” for resolving workers compensation disputes. The Government undertook a review, consulting representatives from icare, State Insurance Regulatory Authority  (SIRA), Workers Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO), Workers Compensation Commission (WCC) as well as injured workers and the general public.

Some of the proposed reforms include:

  • all enquiries and complaints from injured workers that are not resolved with their insurer in the first instance to be directed to the WIRO for assistance;
  • all enquiries and complaints from employers and other system participants will be referred to the SIRA; and
  • the WCC will undertake all dispute resolution once an internal review is completed by an insurer, removing these functions from SIRA and WIRO.

In a Media Release of 4 May 2018, Victor Dominello (NSW Minister for Finance, Services and Property) said:

“…proposed reforms will improve the experience of injured workers by improving support services, simplifying claim processes and removing duplication. A Government review found that there are a number of ways in which we can improve the claims process for injured workers by enabling faster resolution of disputes. We are committed to building a sustainable system that is more user friendly and better supports claimants in their return to work and good health. The proposed changes are supported by a broad cross section of stakeholders and will deliver a one-stop shop for resolving disputes.”

Mr Dominello’s Media Release also reports that:

“ … WIRO will continue to administer the Independent Legal Aid and Review Service (ILARS), providing legal support to injured workers. The reforms follow a review undertaken in response to recommendations of the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice.”

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