Release type: Media Release


Firefighters suffering cancer able to access fair compensation


Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Leader of the Government in the Senate

Firefighters suffering work-related cancers will no longer have to jump through unnecessary and unfair hoops when making a workers’ compensation claim thanks to legislation passed in the Senate today.

“Firefighters expose themselves to dangerous situations on a daily basis,” Senator Evans said.

“Given these risks, and in light of scientific evidence that firefighters experience a higher incidence of cancer, it is unfair to make these men and women who develop cancer as a result of their work go through a lengthy and taxing process to access compensation.

“The Government responded quickly to the concerns of firefighters to ensure the compensation system now gives them the support they deserve.”

The Bill amends the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 to provide a presumption that if a firefighter develops a certain form of cancer, it is work-related for the purpose of determining their workers’ compensation claim.

The amendments will cover the following forms of cancer:

  • Primary site brain cancer;
  • Primary site bladder cancer;
  • Primary site kidney cancer;
  • Primary non-Hodgkins lymphoma;
  • Primary leukaemia;
  • Primary site breast cancer;
  • Multiple myeloma;
  • Primary site prostate cancer;
  • Primary site ureter cancer;
  • Primary site colorectal cancer;
  • Primary site oesophageal cancer; and
  • Primary site testicular cancer.

The Gillard Government intends to introduce a regulation at a later stage to add primary site lung cancer limited to non‑smokers. This will follow consultation with experts and stakeholders to develop a robust definition of non-smoker.

“The Gillard Government has pursed workplace health and safety reforms to ensure Australians work in fair and safe workplaces no matter where they live,” Senator Evans said.

“However, when people are injured or become sick as a result of their work, they should have fair and timely access to payments and medical assistance.”