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In March 2024, new laws came into effect with the most significant changes to Victoria’s WorkCover scheme in decades.

Our experienced team has supported thousands of workers with claims for work injuries, and have summarised the changes below.

What’s changed?

There are three key elements to the new act:

1. Psychological claim eligibility has been limited

The new laws significantly reduce circumstances where a WorkCover claim for a psychological injury will be accepted. The changes include:

  • A worker needs to have a specific mental health diagnosis that causes significant behavioural, cognitive or psychological dysfunction (as diagnosed under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) to be entitled to compensation; and
  • A worker’s mental injury must be predominantly caused by the worker’s employment – in other words, employment must be the strongest or greatest factor causing the worker’s mental injury compared to all other contributing factors. This also applies to workers who suffer an aggravation of a mental injury – they must show that the aggravation was predominantly caused by the worker’s employment.
  • However, there is no longer an entitlement to compensation if the psychological injury is caused by work-related stress or burnout from usual or typical events that are reasonably expected in course of your duties.
  • Workers will still be entitled to compensation if their psychological injury is caused by traumatic events that are usual or typical, and reasonably expected to occur in the worker's duties, for example, workers such as a police officer or paramedic.
  • There is no change to a workers entitlement to retain provisional payments (for medical expenses) for up to 13 weeks, even if claim is ultimately rejected.

2. Injured workers receiving weekly payments after 130 weeks is significantly reduced

The new laws change the eligibility test for ALL workers, for either physical or psychological injuries, to continue to receive weekly payments after 130 weeks.

The test for all payments to continue, which includes:

·         for those currently on weekly payments and have no work capacity,

·         are working greater than 15 hours per week,

·         have had surgery and are seeking a reinstatement of weekly payments,

will now include an additional test of requiring a workers’ whole person impairment (WPI) to be greater than 20% (i.e. 21% or more).

  • The impairment assessment used for the 130 week test will also be the assessment previously used for a lump sum permanent impairment claim.
  • If the worker has not yet had an assessment, the insurer can arrange an assessment to take place.
  • If the workers injury is not stable and an impairment assessment cannot take place, the insurer has the power to still issue an interim notice terminating weekly payments.
  • If a worker has surgery between the 130 week test assessment and their lump sum permanent impairment claim, they can have another assessment.
  • Workers can combine physical impairments for the impairment assessment, but they cannot combine physical and psychological impairments.
  • The assessment of impairment will be whichever (physical or psychological) injury has a greater impairment.
  • The only avenue of appeal of an impairment assessment is to a Medical Panel.  

3. Changes to Disputes

  • A worker cannot go to arbitration to dispute a decision if their claim is rejected.
  • A worker can still seek review of a decision at the Workplace Injury Commission. If that fails to resolve the dispute, they can issue proceedings in the Magistrates Court.

If you have suffered an injury at work on or after 31 March 2024, it’s important to seek legal advice or consult with your union before commencing a claim.

Our experience WorkCover lawyers have helped thousands of Victorians with claims and are here to help. 

Dedicated workers' compensation claim lawyers

Our specialist work injury lawyers are here to help. If you've suffered an injury at work that has affected your physical or psychological wellbeing, we can help you get back on track so you can focus on getting better. Find out how we can assist you with your work injury claim.

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We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.

We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.