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Allan Government betrays nurses and midwives with WorkCover deal

Allan Government betrays nurses and midwives with WorkCover deal

The Allan Labor Government has let down workers – including nurses, midwives and carers – by securing the votes of the Liberal and National parties Opposition to pass retrograde new WorkCover legislation.

The WorkCover Scheme Modernisation Bill 2023 winds back protections for workers with psychological injuries into the future, and undermines the previous positive steps taken by the Andrews Labor Government to provide a low-cost, easily accessible jurisdiction to injured workers rather than an expensive court process.

ANMF (Vic Branch) has opposed the changes.

Over the past two decades, ANMF saved employers and insurers millions by fighting for – and winning – policies and mechanisms that ended the days of nurses, midwives and personal care workers manually lifting patients, resulting in severe career-ending back injuries.

More recently nurses, midwives and personal care workers have faced a surge of psychological injuries. They’re also subjected to violence and aggression from the patients they’re trying to care for and from visitors to healthcare facilities.

It is a shameful betrayal to address WorkCover budget blowouts by watering down and weakening support for nurses, midwives and carers injured by workplace psychosocial hazards. Our leaders should have increased the burden on employers to address preventable mental health risks to nurses, midwives and carers, and strengthened the requirements to work with injured workers so they can return to their employment.

Instead, this new legislation means we now face the possible scenario that WorkSafe Victoria could be investigating and/or prosecuting an employer for failures under the OHS Act 2004 whilst the worker or workers who sustained psychological injuries as a result of these failures would not be entitled to workers’ compensation.

And the sting in the tail is that there are no details or progress on Return to Work Victoria to assist with treatment and recovery.

The Bill is currently being debated in the Legislative Council and with the Government securing the votes of the Opposition, it is expected to pass.