Legislative changes to Section 39 of the Workers’ Compensation Amendment Act passed by the NSW Government in 2012 have started impacting injured workers, with a number of people affected from late December.
icare (Insurance & Care NSW), the insurance and care provider for NSW, has been commissioned with a key role in implementing these changes by providing support to people with less serious workplace injuries to transition from income replacement benefits. Medical benefits will continue for affected people for a further two to five years, depending on their circumstances.
John Nagle, Group Executive, Workers Insurance at icare, is committed to providing continuity of support services for all customers who may be affected.
"In late December over 2,000 NSW workers received their final income replacement payment. We understand this is a big change, and some injured workers may require more tailored community support services and assistance," said Mr Nagle.
"For two years icare has been working closely with scheme agents to assist workers transition from workers compensation income replacement, offering them a range of support options including advice about other government agencies that can provide assistance."
icare has established partnerships with St Vincent de Paul Society NSW and Uniting (and Interact for regional areas) to deliver wrap-around, targeted community support services.
"We have been providing assistance through these trusted transition support specialists who are tasked with providing care, understanding and respect to workers who want further support as they transition. So far 384 workers have sought face-to-face local support from them," said Mr Nagle.
“We are supporting workers to be prepared in advance for the cessation of payments, and are working in collaboration with these organisations to make this as painless as possible.”
Anita Le Lay, Head of Disability at Uniting, said that many of the injured workers they’ve met really appreciate the different type of support they are now able to access.
"Our team at Uniting has been working with people with a range of issues who have needed assistance with navigating Centrelink access, housing or employment advice," said Ms Le Lay.
"People with mental health issues who were initially overwhelmed by the process have been provided with wellbeing planning and resources and are now accessing mental health support through mainstream and community services.
"Workers have also been supported to explore work as a viable option and in several cases, have actually now returned to work in some capacity, which is great.
"Recognising that inclusion and community connections are critical to wellbeing and building capacity, we have focused on supporting people to actively explore options including volunteering and seeking out ways to reconnect with their families and their communities.
"For many, reconnection is something they haven’t done in years and so engaging with us has been significantly impactful for them and is helping them to cope with the changes."
Mr Nagle is anticipating increased demand on government agencies such as Centrelink and the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS).
"We also envisage that vulnerable individuals, especially in remote regions, may reach out to their local support organisations. If this does happen, we would like to ensure that everyone in the sector is informed about the changes and what assistance they can offer," said Mr Nagle.
Contact icare’s Return to Work & Support team on (02) 9216 3093 for more information.
Additional support and information
Further information on these changes, what they mean for injured workers, and the State Insurance Regulatory Authority’s (SIRA) support options available to impacted workers, is available on the SIRA website.
Workers are also within their rights to seek legal representation or have their case reviewed by contacting: