CODE 2, VOL 34, NO 31 : 24 july 2020
UFUQ CONTINUES CAMPAIGN FOR PRESUMPTIVE LEGISLATION FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL INJURIES
As you would know, after many years of campaigning, in September 2015, the Palaszczuk Government passed amendments to the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (the Act) that resulted in the introduction of presumptive legislation for firefighters who are diagnosed with one of 12 ‘specified diseases’ (cancers).
This was a massive win for UFUQ members and is rightly celebrated, but cancers are not the only work related injuries that significantly affect UFUQ members. Traumatic psychological injury (such as PTSD) should be recognised in the same way, and since 2015 your union has been campaigning for similar presumptive legislation for those types of injuries.
Your union has taken every opportunity to advance the interests of UFUQ members with regard to this matter, whether that be via submissions to or participation in Senate inquiries or reviews of the Queensland workers’ compensation scheme, or by lobbying the Palaszczuk Government directly.
The UFUQ have been leading the way on this matter. Since January 2020, your union has been engaged in discussions with the Palaszczuk Government (via engagement with the Office of Industrial Relations) regarding improving the workers' compensation experience for members. During this engagement, your union has used every opportunity possible to push for presumptive legislation, and we have made the following clear –
• The introduction of presumptive legislation should not limit the scope to PTSD. It should include all psychological injuries that have been diagnosed as a result of exposure to a traumatic event or cumulative traumatic events (i.e. over a period of time).
• The Queensland workers’ compensation scheme ought to endeavour to be the best in Australia. However, with regard to psychological injury Queensland is falling behind.
• If the Queensland workers’ compensation scheme is to be the best in the country, it should include comparable, if not better, provisions than those introduced in Tasmania and Northern Territory.
• The introduction of presumptive legislation would significantly assist in reducing stigma around mental illness amongst UFUQ members and make the claim lodgement and determination process less daunting.
• As the key stakeholder representing all professional firefighters, auxiliary firefighters and fire communications officers within the Queensland workers’ compensation scheme, should the Government proceed with any plans to introduce presumptive legislation for psychological injuries, we seek to be consulted in a meaningful way, including with regard to any drafting of the relevant legislation.
As a result of this work, the Palaszczuk Government are now carefully considering a proposal for presumptive legislation for first responders diagnosed with PTSD. Your union is encouraged by this development and will continue our campaign.
I will provide a further update to members as this matter develops.
John Oliver – General Secretary
Authorised by John Oliver General Secretary
United Firefighters' Union of Australia, Union of Employees QLD