WRCAC Communique February 2021

Functions of the Council

In accordance with section 9 of the Return to Work Act 1986, the functions of the Council are to:

  • (a) keep the operation of the Return to Work Act 1986 under review;
  • (b) make recommendations to the Minister on possible improvements to the administration of the Return to Work Act 1986, or the statutory scheme for the rehabilitation and compensation of injured workers in the Northern Territory;
  • (c) carry out investigations, at the request of the Minister, into questions about the rehabilitation and compensation of injured workers and to report to the Minister on the results of the investigations; and
  • (d) perform any other advisory functions relating to workers’ rehabilitation and compensation as the Minister directs.

The Council comprises the person constituting the Work Health Authority under section 4(3) of the Work Health Administration Act 2011 and up to 10 other members appointed by the Minister.

Council members must represent stakeholders of the Northern Territory Workers’ Compensation Scheme, including balanced representation from a wide range of industry sectors, employer and worker interests, and insurers. Membership of the Council must also include persons with expertise in the rehabilitation of injured workers.

The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Advisory Council (the Council) met on
25 February 2021.

The following items were discussed.

Letter- Charges by Hospital in relation to Workers Compensation

Council noted the Northern Territory currently does not have a schedule of fees or capping for medical and allied health fees; and that injured workers are required to pay a higher medical fee due to it being a potential workers compensation claim, as shown in the ‘Northern Territory Health Services Fees and Charges Manual’.    Council also noted vulnerable workers can be adversely affected, including, but not limited to backpackers, visa holders, young workers and workers with English as a second language.

Council agreed the Chair write to the Minister about the higher charges for medical treatment when attending a hospital for treatment, compared to attending a general practitioner prior to a workers compensation claim being made.

ICA Letter on Working Group proposal

A letter from ICA regarding the NT Workers Compensation Scheme: Proposed premium increase mechanisms, was circulated and following discussion, members Council voted on the following questions:

Is there sufficient information to be able to make a clear recommendation to Government at this stage?

YES = (4 votes)

NO = (5 votes)

The Work Health Authority abstained from the vote.

Small Business Employers and Workers Compensation premiums

Council unanimously agreed to recommend to the Minster the Minister that the Government investigate whether the Scheme, not as a whole, but in relation to small business and premium increases are fair, affordable, efficient and effective.

Lyons review action – Injured Workers and Family Forum Subcommittee

Council considered the recommendations of the “Best practice review of workplace health and safety in the Northern Territory” that an Injured Workers and Families Forum be established, actively supported, and consulted by both NT WorkSafe; and the Work Health and Safety Advisory Council; and NT WorkSafe develop a more effective system to ensure that the families of victims of fatalities are supported, modelled on best practice used by police services.

Council also considered these recommendations be standing items for the Councils meetings to ensure that this important activity continues to receive the appropriate level and quality of support.

Other Business

The Secretariat advised current council membership expires 18 March 2021. Nominations for council membership have been forwarded to the Minister.

Next meeting

The next meeting is scheduled in May 2021.