Release type: Media Release

Date:

Gillard Government confirms support for firefighters

Ministers:

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

The Australian Government today reaffirmed its support to deliver more streamlined access to workers’ compensation for firefighters.

The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Fair Protection for Firefighters) Bill 2011 today passed the House of Representatives.

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.

Minister for Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans, said the Government also supported the amendments to expand the scope of the Bill which were introduced into the House of Representatives earlier this week.

“The amendments will add five additional cancers identified by the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee,” Senator Evans said.

“The Committee identified a need to include additional cancers to ensure that the Bill was brought into line with similar legislation in North America and to ensure that it reflected the most up-to-date scientific evidence.

“These cancers, along with those included in the original Bill, have been recognised as occurring at a much higher rate in career firefighters than in the general population.

“Government amendments have also been introduced to ensure that the Bill is consistent with the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 and to ensure the Bill operates in a fair and sustainable way.”

Senator Evans said the Government amendments have been the subject of consultation with key stakeholders, including the ACT Government, which is a major employer of firefighters covered by the Bill, and the United Firefighters Union.

“Firefighters willingly expose themselves to dangerous situations on a daily basis to protect lives and property,” he said.

“This Bill, along with the Government’s amendments, will ensure any unnecessary barriers are removed for firefighters having their workers’ compensation claims recognised.”