Victoria Minister for Emergency Services Kim Wells
Victoria Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips
New Panel To Ensure Prompt, Compassionate And Fair Claims Assessment For Firefighters
Victor P Taffa
The Victorian Coalition Government has today announced the formation of the Firefighters Assessment Panel to assist in the management and assessment of career and volunteer firefighter cancer related claims.
Firefighters who contract cancer through fire fighting are entitled to compensation, either through the Country Fire Authority (CFA) in the case of volunteers, or the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) in the case of career firefighters.
The formation of the Firefighters Assessment Panel will be managed by the VWA with the support of the CFA and will comprise expert medical, technical and claims specialists to ensure prompt, compassionate and fair assessments for all claims.
Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips said the Victorian Coalition Government has recognised community concerns through the establishment of the expert panel that will be available to both career and volunteer firefighters.
Both volunteer and career firefighters will be able to have their claims assessed through the Firefighters Assessment Panel.
“This is a complex issue. The VWA relies on the evidence of expert and respected clinicians to interpret existing research. Each firefighter’s claim is considered individually on its merits, having regard to the existing scientific evidence.” Mr. Rich-Phillips said.
“If a firefighter believes that he or she has contracted cancer as a result of their duties they should of course make a compensation claim.”
The VWA has produced a comprehensive range of information to assist firefighters in preparing to lodge a WorkCover claim.
This information is available at www.worksafe.vic.gov.au and will also be available through the CFA.
Minister for Emergency Services Kim Wells endorsed the establishment of the Firefighters Assessment Panel.
“This is another appropriate step towards assisting Victorian firefighters in making a compensation claim for cancer.” Mr. Wells said.
“The Coalition Government greatly values the vital work of our career and volunteer firefighters, particularly the CFA, one of the world’s largest volunteer organisations, with more than 60,000 members 98 % of them volunteers.”
“Volunteer firefighters are entitled to compensation for injuries as a consequence of their fire-fighting role and will have equal access to the Firefighters Assessment Panel.”
Victoria’s Accident Compensation Act 1985 provides a no-fault workplace scheme for any Victorian worker who contracts a disease or illness in the course of their employment.
Where a clear link is established between employment and a disease, the VWA provides appropriate support and compensation.
These provisions are mirrored in the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 to ensure equal treatment for volunteer firefighters.