Mental health, News, Safety events and incidents, Work health and safety

Workers’ compensation in Australia is ‘problematic’

hand injury, compensation, workers

The current state of workers’ compensation schemes often leaves much to be desired, but a Monash University-led initiative is looking to overhaul the system.

Professor Alex Collie from Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine will lead the Australian Research Council-funded Workers’ Voice project in partnership with injured workers and other experts.

Every year over half a million Australians are injured or become ill at work. Thirty-one percent of them make a workers’ compensation claim, resulting in at least 1.9 million weeks of lost work costing the economy $28.6 billion each year.

Collie said there is strong evidence that Australia’s compensation systems were structured and operated in a way that could cause problems for injured workers.

“Many studies in Australia and internationally show that a lot of people find workers’ compensation stressful and complex, and that for some people this contributes to slower recovery and significant distress,” Collie said.

“Most of our workers’ compensation schemes were designed in the 1980s. The world of work, and the types of injury and illness we see at work, have changed fundamentally. But our systems haven’t kept pace.”

The Monash study, titled ‘Workers’ Voice’, is looking to change the way things are done.  

Researchers will work with workers and their supporters to design a compensation system that reflects their experiences, views and preferences.

“We think that workers with an injury or illness, their family and friends, have a unique and very valuable experience of workers’ compensation,” Collie said. “This experience should be heard and have greater weight in the way systems are designed and the way they operate.

“This project is about re-imagining compensation for the future.”

The University of Melbourne, the Australian Centre for Justice Innovation, the University of Waterloo, and a number of other support organisations will also play a role in the study.

Subscribe to Safe to Work to receive the latest news on safety in the mining industry. 

Send this to a friend