A Brief Overview of the Commonwealth Workers Compensation System

If you are a Commonwealth Employee, then your workers compensation rights are governed by the Safety, Rehabilitation & Compensation Act 1988.

Under this system, you are entitled to payment of weekly earnings (at prescribed rates) for all periods you are unfit for work.

You are also entitled to payment of reasonable and necessary medical expenses including surgery, rehabilitation for the injuries suffered at work as well as travel expenses when attending treatment.

If you suffer a permanent impairment as a result of your work-related injury, you may be entitled to claim a lump sum permanent impairment benefit, which can only be made when the injury has stabilised.

If the injury has been caused through the “fault” or “negligence” of an employer, you can choose between a Common Law claim for damages (being a claim in negligence) or a lump sum permanent impairment claim.

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You cannot claim both and once a decision is made, it cannot be changed.

To be entitled to pursue a Common Law claim you must have a permanent impairment assessment of at least 10% and the claim must be made within 3 years from the date of injury.

Under the Commonwealth Workers Compensation Scheme, there is very little scope for lawyers to be involved. The process is administrative and managed by the employer or insurer. Injured workers can of course obtain legal advice, but these costs (unlike the NSW scheme) are not paid by the worker’s compensation insurer.

If any part of a claim is disputed and proceeds to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), then a portion of legal fees are payable by the insurer.

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About the Author
Emma Mead

Emma Mead is an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law, accredited by the Law Society of NSW. She is also a National Accreditor Mediator and has a Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution. She specialises in all personal injury and family law disputes, locally and across New South Wales.