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Minister announces terms of reference for Comcare review.



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Hon Julia Gillard MP

Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Minister for Social Inclusion 23 January, 2008

Media Release

Minister Announces Terms Of Reference For Comcare Review

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations has today announced the terms of reference for a

review of the Comcare scheme and has invited written submissions from interested parties.

The Comcare scheme provides workers’ compensation and OHS arrangements for Australian Government

employees and for the employees of certain private corporations which self-insure under the scheme.

The purpose of the review is to ensure that Comcare is a suitable OHS and worker’ compensation system for

self insurers and their employees.

With the expansion of the types of industries covered by the Comcare scheme in 2006, the Rudd Government

is particularly concerned that all employees covered under the scheme are protected by rigorous OHS

safeguards and appropriate workers’ compensation benefits.

Following the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission meeting on 12 December 2007, there are

now 19 licensed self-insurers, with a further 15 corporations eligible to apply for a licence to self-insure.

The Government wants to hear the views of stakeholders and so will undertake national consultation with

relevant groups prior to the review finalising its recommendations.

Written submissions can be forwarded to the Commonwealth Safety and Compensation Policy Branch,

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Loc 64N31, GPO Box 9879, Canberra ACT

2601 or emailed to ComcareReview@dewr.gov.au by 29 February 2008.

A report will be provided to the Minister by the end of July 2008.

Terms of reference for the Comcare review

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The review should provide information and recommendations on the following issues:

Safety and Compensation

a) Does the scheme provide appropriate OHS and workers’ compensation coverage for workers employed by

self-insurers?

b) Does the scheme regulator now have the enforcement policy and operational capacity to ensure self-insurers provide safe workplaces? What are the likely operational requirements should the scheme’s coverage

be expanded?

c) What arrangements are required to ensure that all workers and contractors working at workplaces

controlled by self-insurers have their health and safety protected, regardless of coverage by Commonwealth,

or State and Territory OHS legislation?

d) What effect have the recent changes to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 had on the

rehabilitation and return to work of injured workers?

e) Does the scheme achieve effective return to work outcomes?

Consultation

f) Does the requirement that employees be consulted about their employer’s intention to apply for a self-insurance licence with Comcare (or vary an existing licence) result in meaningful discussion about

occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation coverage?

g) Does the scheme ensure ongoing consultation with, and the involvement of, employees and their

representatives in relation to workplace safety arrangements at workplaces of self insurers?

Finance

h) Do the financial arrangements for self-insurers present any risk to premium payers in the scheme or to the

Commonwealth?

i) What are the likely impacts on state and territory workers’ compensation schemes of corporations exiting

those schemes to join Comcare?

Access

j) Why do private companies seek self insurance with Comcare? Are there alternatives available to address the

costs and red tape for employers with operations across jurisdictions having to deal with multiple

occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation systems?

k) If self insurance under the Comcare scheme remains open to eligible corporations, should there be changes to the eligibility rules for obtaining a licence to self-insure under Comcare?

For further information contact:

Kimberley Gardiner 0434 159 842

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