Lawyers welcome plan to improve mental health care for Victorian first responders

12 September 2018
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have today welcomed plans for landmark reforms to Victoria’s WorkCover system that will help protect the state’s first responders.

Azmeena Hussain, a workplace injury lawyer at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, said the proposed changes would see the introduction of provisional acceptance for mental health claims for many emergency workers, as well as the ability to access specialist care and financial support.

“Under the initial twelve month pilot, paramedics, police, Protective Services Offices, firefighters and SES workers will have access to provisional acceptance of payments for mental health claims, with plans to roll this out to all Victorian workers within two years.

“Acceptance of provisional liability for claims is significant as it recognises the complex nature of mental health issues such as anxiety and PTSD, and will help to minimise disruption and stress enabling these workers to focus on their health at difficult times,” Ms Hussain said

Ms Hussain said plans for on-the-ground mental health support and best practice research are also welcomed.

“In the aftermath of a traumatic event, early access to best practice evidence based care is essential,” she said.   

“The Centre of Excellence for Emergency Worker Mental Health in partnership with Beyond Blue and the creation of a specialist network of clinicians will help provide the skills necessary to support our emergency workers’ mental wellbeing,”

Ms Hussain said these changes recognise that emergency services workers provide an invaluable service to their local communities.

“First responders should be able to focus on the job at hand and feel that they are fully supported by government and wider community, and in our view these changes should go a long way towards ensuring this,” she said.

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