Noel Towell August 21, 2012
WORK PLACE INJURY Photo: James Davies
ACT public servants have claimed nearly $90 million in compensation for workplace injuries and illnesses in the past three years.
But the territory government says a major shake-up of its ''injury management system'' is not about cutting costs but helping injured employees get back to their jobs.
Figures released by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher in response to a question on notice by the ACT Greens show that $24 million was paid out to workers claiming injuries in the last financial year and that the cost blew out to more than $34 million in 2010-11, up from $29.5 million in 2009-10.
The hardest hit department was Health, which paid out between $9.3 million and $10.9 million annually during the three-year reporting period.
Territory and Municipal Services was also shown to be bearing the brunt of claims from its workers, paying out nearly $9 million in 2010-11 while the education department was hit with a compensation bill of $5.7 million the same year.
Ms Gallagher said that the ''ACTPS workers' compensation and work safety improvement plan'' would be using a number of different strategies to try to reduce the burden of injury on workers and hoped to achieve a reduction of up to 10 per cent on the ''whole of government'' premium paid to the insurer, Comcare.
But the Chief Minister also said the government had no intention trying to trying to cut a better deal with another insurer.
''The primary focus and objective of [the plan] is to improve the health and return to work outcomes of ACTPS injured workers, which will, if successful, also have an impact on future workers' compensation premium costs,'' Ms Gallagher told Greens leader Meredith Hunter.
''The plan is not a fiscal efficiency measure or cost containment strategy.''
The changes have seen ''injury management'' bureaucrats who were based around the directorates moved into a centralised unit in shared services, according to the answer to the question.
Ms Gallagher said the move was made to ''centralise expertise from across the service, build capacity and capability in case management, more effectively match the needs of injured workers with the appropriate skills and expertise of individual case managers and ensure a one service approach to the management of injured workers' return to work.''
''Success against the qualitative performance measures that underpin the plan will produce significant improvements to the health and return to work outcomes of injured ACTPS workers and by extension lead to a reduction in the territory's workers' compensation premium.''
She said the success of the plan would be measured against a number of benchmarks.