Closing Loopholes Bill: Amendments to the SRC Act creates a presumptive provision for PTSD claims made by first responders.
On 7 December 2023, the Australian Government partially passed the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill. Of particular interest are the presumptive PTSD provisions that amend the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (‘SRC Act’) to create a presumption in favour of PTSD claims submitted by first responders.
This means that from January 2024, first responders will no longer be required to prove that their employment significantly contributed to their PTSD injury. The onus of proof will now be on the employer for any PTSD injury suffered by a first responder during their course of employment.
This change in legislation will apply to the following first responders:
- Australian Federal Police (AFP) employees
- Ambulance officers, paramedics, and emergency services communications operator
- Members of the Emergency Service within the meaning of the Emergencies Act 2004 (ACT)
First responders are far more likely to experience PTSD than the general public due to the nature of their employment, where they are exposed to trauma on a regular basis. The new presumptive PTSD provisions will make it easier for first responders to submit workers’ compensation claims as it will now be presumed that their employment significantly contributed to their PTSD injury. This reform could greatly alleviate the significant emotional and psychological burden a first responder may face when trying to seek compensation.
However, it is prudent to note that this presumption is rebuttable, meaning that Comcare and EML may be able to rebut the presumption if there is evidence that proves otherwise. Comcare and EML will also still have the ability to decline PTSD claims under the ‘reasonable administrative action’ provisions and other exclusions within the SRC Act.
David Healey Solicitors welcomes this change as we hope it will mean more support for the first responders who keep our communities safe. At David Healey Solicitors, we are experts in Comcare and EML claims and especially so for first responders. Book in today with one of our experienced solicitors to discuss putting in a workers’ compensation claim. We can help you navigate the workers’ compensation process and assist with any issues and concerns that may arise, and help you get the help you need today.
Written by Siang Jin Law, Solicitor