Table 1

Summary of the 2012 reforms to New South Wales workers’ compensation legislation

Area of reformDescription
EligibilityDefinitions were tightened such that workers with occupational diseases, mental health conditions, heart attack and stroke were only eligible if employment was the main contributing factor to the condition/disease.
Workers who were injured on the way to or from work were required to demonstrate a real and substantive connection between employment and the accident/injury.
Income benefitsWeekly income payments were limited to a maximum of 5 years duration except for the most seriously injured workers rather than continuing to retirement age.
New time limit on benefits for workers with full work capacity of 13 weeks.
Benefits for workers with partial work capacity were time limited to 130 weeks.
The maximum weekly benefit increased from $AUD1775 to $AUD1838 and was indexed annually.
Income benefits were ceased at statutory retirement age (65 years) rather than continuing for up to 12 months postretirement.
Removal of entitlements to lump sum payments for pain and suffering.
Threshold for lump sum payments for permanent impairment from physical injury changed from 1% whole person impairment to >10%.
Medical treatmentTime limits on payments for medical treatment were introduced, restricting payments to 12 months after compensation claim is made, or 12 months from the date of the last income payment, whichever is the latter.
Suitable employmentDefinition of suitable employment was changed to exclude consideration of whether work is available or available close to the workers’ place of residence.
AssessmentRestriction to a single assessment to determine whole person impairment.
Powers of regulator and insurersProvided that work capacity decisions were made by the insurer and were not eligible for review.
Provided the regulator with the power to determine the necessity for medical treatment, the nature of medical treatment and the appropriateness of the treatment provider.
Workplace inspectors (employed by regulator) provided with the power to issue legally binding improvement notices to employers not meeting obligations, with penalties payable.
Dispute resolution and legal assistanceEstablishment of the WorkCover Independent Review Office (WIRO) to deal with complaints about insurers made by workers or employers.
Establishment of the Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service under WIRO to facilitate claimant access to free legal advice.
Claimants required to fund their own legal costs in most disputes.
  • AUD, Australian Dollars.