Changes to workers compensation payments in NSW to hit vulnerable injured workers
The NSW government’s changes to the workers compensation payments for people suffering from workplace injuries is going to leave thousands of people in dire financial difficulties.
The changes due to start in December 2017 severely limit financial assistance for workplace compensation, so that only the most seriously injured people will qualify.
Many injured workers to lose entitlements from December 2017
I know hundreds of people who will be hit hard by the government’s withdrawal of assistance.
Injured workers who had been covered for weekly benefits until retirement and medical expenses for life will lose those entitlements from December 2017. Those whose injuries are assessed to be less than 21 per cent whole person impairment will lose the payment.
Even people who can’t walk properly, can’t work, are unable to have surgery and rely on costly medication to relieve pain from their work injury fall short of the government’s 20 per cent threshold.
Impact of changes on injured workers in regional areas
The changes hit regional areas especially hard, as many injured workers are already struggling on the poverty line, the work available is more physical, transport costs are higher and it is tougher to find work that they can do with their injuries.
Our firm has helped many people who were injured at work to get financial assistance and we now fear for their welfare in light of the government’s decision.
They live in pain, yet the government is inflicting even more pain on them by forcing them into financial hardship. This is despite the compensation scheme being $1.4 billion in surplus.
Many injured workers will fail to meet government’s new threshold
One man we assisted had two spinal operations following his 1997 accident, but he now faces losing his farm, as he is just one impairment level short of qualifying for the payments.
A mother who is the sole carer for her disabled daughter has spinal injuries and other health problems and cannot work. We helped her get her life back on track with assistance from the workers compensation scheme.
However, she has now been assessed as having just 12 per cent impairment. She also has disabling psychological problems stemming from her injuries and from battling the workers compensation system, but that is not taken into account in assessing her level of impairment.
Changes “designed to get people back to work”
The government says that the changes are designed to get people back to work, but these people cannot work because of their injuries and the ongoing pain they are suffering.
We work with these people every day, trying to help them in their ongoing fight with the workers compensation system. We know their problems, whereas the politicians do not.
They should get out of Macquarie Street in Sydney and come out and join us as we go about trying to help those who have been injured at work. Then perhaps they might understand the impact their decisions have on vulnerable people in our society.
For more information about the changes, please visit the NSW government’s WorkCover website and the State Insurance Regulatory Authority. For the relevant legislation, please see the State Insurance and Care Governance Act 2015.