Legislation improves mental health support for Vic workers

Thursday, 03 December, 2020

Legislation improves mental health support for Vic workers

The Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Provisional Payments) Bill 2020 will enable Victorian workers who suffer a work-related mental health injury to access early treatment and support. Under the new legislation, Victorian workers who seek compensation for a mental health injury under WorkCover will receive payments to cover reasonable medical expenses while they await the outcome of their claim.

“These landmark reforms will ensure that Victorian workers gets the urgent support they deserve — and can get better and return to work as soon as they can. With more and more workers seeking help for mental health injuries, it’s vital that we remove barriers that prevent people from accessing care and support as soon as they need it,” said Ingrid Stitt, Minister for Workplace Safety.

The scheme is an expansion of the Victorian Government’s pilot providing provisional payments to emergency services workers and volunteers. Eligible volunteers — including Emergency Management Victoria volunteers, volunteer school workers and jurors — will be covered by the scheme.

Mental injury claims have increased in recent years and are expected to account for a third of all workers compensation claims by 2030. The nature of these claims can be more complex and take longer to determine than physical injury claims. Before this reform, workers could wait up to five weeks before receiving payments to access treatment or support — with some facing stressful out-of-pocket costs.

“No one should have to suffer in silence. These changes will encourage workers to put their hand up for help when they’re struggling, knowing that they’ll be given support and access to treatment right away,” said James Merlino, Minister for Mental Health.

The provisional payments scheme covers costs such as GP visits, psychiatrist or psychologist appointments, and medication, thereby removing financial barriers that delay workers from getting the care they deserve.

Workers whose claims are rejected will continue to receive access to payments for up to 13 weeks from the date they submitted the claim. This provides certainty of immediate support whether a claim is accepted or not, encouraging workers to make a claim and seek the treatment they need.

“We’ve seen how valuable the provisional payments scheme has been for our emergency services workers and volunteers — now all Victorian workers will benefit from these important changes,” said Lisa Neville, Minister for Police and Emergency Services.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/thekob5123

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