Queensland firefighters will be provided with greater certainty in their worker’s compensation coverage for latent onset diseases under legislative amendments the Palaszczuk Government has introduced to State Parliament.
Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations Curtis Pitt said the proposed amendments would make it easier for firefighters to access compensation for work-related cancers.
“The former LNP government had three long years to deliver on this important deemed disease legislative reform for Queensland’s permanent, auxiliary and volunteer firefighters, and it failed to do so,” he said.
“Under our proposed changes, if a firefighter develops one of 12 specified cancers and meets the qualifying period of active firefighting service, then the cancer will be deemed to be work-related.
“This is part of Labor’s election commitment to firefighters.
“Firefighters are essential to the safety and peace of mind Queenslanders and they can always count on the Palaszczuk Government’s support.
“Our amendments will ensure local firefighters who get sick after fighting house fires or containing grass fires will not have the burden of proving that their cancer is the result of their firefighting work.
“Critically, this means they will get access to their compensation benefits in a more timely fashion.”
The proposed amendments in the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 have been modelled on similar laws introduced in other Australian jurisdictions.
They are enhanced by incorporating the most recent advice from the Australian and international research into the links between firefighting work and cancer.
Importantly, the provisions will apply to all current or former firefighters who are either employed by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services or engaged as volunteer firefighters by the Rural Fire Service Queensland.
“No other deemed disease scheme in Australia offers volunteer firefighters unfettered access to common law damages, and the same entitlements as permanent and auxiliary firefighters,” Mr Pitt said.
“With this Bill, the Queensland Government is ensuring that those firefighters who contract one of the specified cancers are given the financial security to look after their families, allowing them to focus on their treatment.”
For more information on Queensland’s workers’ compensation scheme visit worksafe.qld.gov.au or call 1300 362 128.