ACT News


The results of the alternate 'citizens' jury' on CTP are in

Introducing injury thresholds and caps to the ACT's compulsory third party insurance scheme will leave future motor vehicle accident victims worse off, former claimants have warned

The results of an alternate "citizens' jury" on a new design for the insurance scheme are in, barely a week before the official jury will make a decision on which model they will endorse.

The workshop was funded by personal injury lawyers dissatisfied with the government's jury on the future of the scheme, but was run at arms length by a consultant, Nicole Seils and deliberative democracy expert, Dr Wendy Russell.

Fourteen crash victims who have received payouts under the current CTP scheme were a part of the workshop, held last month.

Anyone currently involved with the scheme was blocked from participating in the government's citizen jury, so the 14 former claimants were tasked with scrutinising the existing system based on their personal experiences with it.

While the official jurors said earlier treatment for victims was their No.1 priority, participants in this workshop called for an overhaul of the way the ACT's system treats and assesses psychological injuries.


"The psychological legacy of road accidents can outlive physical injuries and is often neglected," Dr Russell's report said.

"These problems of time to diagnosis, slow to manifest conditions, long-term psychological effects and treatment side-effects highlight the need for adequate ongoing support and a flexible and person-centred system of assessment and cover.

"Early access to treatment and support will not necessarily solve these problems nor remove this need."

The former claimants said problems associated with treatment, such as side effects or addiction to pain killers, were not addressed in the current scheme. 

They branded the ACT's current adversarial system as "extremely upsetting and grossly unfair", and suggested an independent panel of medical experts be established to assess and support victims during claims.

They also expressed fears that the injury thresholds included in leaked modelling could unfairly exclude a lot of people from receiving a payout, as they don't consider pre-accident lifestyle or quality of life. 

One participant told the group she was fit and active before she was hit by a four-wheel-drive while riding her bicycle, but the insurer tried to claim her injuries were due to her age and past activity.

She'd been a netball umpire and a keen hiker before the accident. She was thrown seven metres when hit by the car and lost consciousness. 

"In summary, the workshop participants are concerned that future claimants will not have the same level of support that would allow them to recover their health and wellbeing, particularly given the complex and ongoing nature of accident injuries and their psychological effects," the report said.

"They are also concerned that a new system, in seeking efficiency and certainty in setting definitions and parameters, may lose some of the flexibility and responsiveness to the human dimension of accident trauma and recovery that is necessary for an effective and humane system.

"An effective CTP system cannot apply a 'one-size-fits-all' solution, nor a box-ticking exercise, to the diversity, complexity and nuance of human trauma."

The ACT government was given a copy of the report on Wednesday afternoon, but it's unclear whether it will be handed to jurors.

The jury is currently looking at the final four models, developed by the stakeholder group, scheme designers and actuaries, before they meet for the last time on March 24 and 25 and select the one which best meets their priorities.

Ms Seils said she hoped the report would help give some "context" to some of the models, and help the jurors consider the human impact of whichever model they selected. 

"There's been a lot of debate on CTP from an intellectual standpoint but what this workshop has done for me has shown me the human element of the scheme," Ms Seils said.

"Now I'm driving to work, thinking about what happens if iIm t-boned and go through the window. 

"At its very heart CTP is a scheme to protect people and this [workshop] puts people back at the centre of it."

When the scheme was announced, Chief Minister Andrew Barr promised to uphold the decision the jury made.

More recently, he has said he will move to legislate on the new scheme by the end of the year. 

Read the full report below:

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the government received the report on Tuesday afternoon.