WA Health Unions welcome new workers’ compensation protection
Thursday 13 Aug 2020
• Australian Medical Association (WA) (AMA (WA))
• United Workers Union (UWU)
• Health Services Union WA (HSUWA)
The HSUWA, AMA (WA) and UWU welcomes the passing of legislation in the Western Australian Parliament that will provide essential protections for healthcare workers should they contract COVID-19.
The WA Government’s Workers' Compensation and Injury Management Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 responds to the calls of the three health unions to make it simpler for health workers to access support under the Workers' Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981.
The legislation, which was passed this afternoon, is retrospective coming into effect for workers from 16 March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic put WA into a State of emergency.
The amendments will ensure workers are now presumed to have contracted the virus at work should they test positive. This reduces the burden on the healthcare workers and enables them to access workers’ compensation that they are rightly entitled to.
Before these amendments were passed, if a healthcare worker was infected with COVID-19, it was up to them to prove they contracted COVID-19 at work to be entitled to compensation.
For health care workers the legislative change is significant. They are now supported through the workers’ compensation process and have access to the compensation they need for medical treatment or time off work, and any of their dependents will receive financial support if the worker tragically dies as a result of the disease.
The HSUWA, AMA (WA) and UWU thank all Members of Parliament who voted to pass this important Bill in a timely manner.
Collectively our unions represent tens of thousands of health care workers across WA, many of whom have been at the frontline of battle against COVID-19.
Quotes attributed AMA (WA) President Dr Andrew Miller:
“The WA Government, indeed all Members of Parliament and the community, have shown great cooperation and support for healthcare workers in our State’s response to COVID-19 over the last few months.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to amend this legislation and we thank all Parliamentarians who supported these changes and passed the Bill quickly.
“Despite our low number of COVID-19 cases and community spread, as we can see from the crisis in Victoria that Australia is still in danger and a second wave is a very real and present threat. We must prepare for worst while hoping for the best results from our combined efforts.
“This new legislation will help all health workers feel more protected in their own workplaces as they care for our community during this pandemic.
“However, these measures should be seen as a last resort – first and foremost is ensuring adequate supplies of appropriate PPE for all healthcare workers across WA.”
Quotes attributed to HSUWA Secretary Naomi McCrae:
“We need to do everything we can to protect our health workers in Western Australia and this is a vital step.
“Ensuring access to the safety net for these essential workers if they are infected with COVID-19 is the right thing to do.
Quotes attributed UWU Public Sector Co-Ordinator Kevin Sneddon:
“The changes to the workers compensation legislation by the McGowan Government are a welcome recognition of the risks taken every day be health workers, particularly during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“The Government should be applauded for its initiative and we are pleased that these common-sense changes were passed quickly.
“Victoria reminds us that we haven’t beaten COVID-19 and it is imperative that these changes are enacted whilst we have a moment of relative calm in WA.