ACT government to start managing compensation claims

The territory government will manage all ACT government workers' compensation claims from March 1 when it becomes a self-insurer.

It means federal workplace insurer Comcare will no longer be involved in liability decisions or the management of compensation claims for ACT government public servants.

The ACT government will be a self-insurer from March 1.  Photo: Michel O Sullivan

The ACT government will be a self-insurer from March 1. Photo: Michel O Sullivan

The application for self-insurance was approved in November in a move the government says will give it greater influence over how services are delivered.

It's a step back from the ACT's plan to ditch Comcare completely in 2015, which would have required its own legislative framework.

Instead, it will use the Comcare framework and legislation but will not have to pay a premium to Comcare, which last financial year was about $68 million.

The government has entered into a contract with Employers Mutual Limited which will provide claims administration services.

Some current Comcare recipients have expressed concern the new scheme will allow the government greater influence over their claims and present a conflict.

But the government said liability decisions on individual workers' compensation would be made by the third party provider.

A government spokeswoman said the move would allow the government to directly influence resourcing and be able to monitor the quality of care and services being provided.

"As a self-insurer, the ACT government will take on full responsibility for the care and support of its injured workers," she said.

"This also allows the ACT government to set service standards that are more appropriate to the context of the ACT government than those provided currently by Comcare.

"This includes providing treatment sooner and better co-ordination for rehabilitation and claim services."

As a self-insurer liability decisions must be made in accordance with Commonwealth legislation, which is regulated by Comcare.

Decisions must comply with the Territory’s self-insurance license, and are subject to appeal mechanisms, such as to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

"These design features ensure that decisions will be properly made in accordance with relevant regulation," the spokeswoman said.

The government has also legislated a new ministerial advisory council, which will include worker representatives and provide advice on the operation of the self-insurance arrangements.

Unions ACT secretary Alex White said he expected to move to self-insurance to improve rehabilitation and return to work outcomes for public servants who are injured.

"Thanks to the work of public sector unions, the move to self-insurance under Comcare will ensure that no ACT public sector worker is worse off, and that all existing rights and entitlements are protected," he said.

"We also expect that the ACT government will start to build up its own capacity to assess and administer claims.

"Unions will continue to campaign strongly to protect the Comcare system from anti-worker attacks from the gederal Liberal government."