Comcare - Australian Goverment
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Australian Defence Force

This section is a report provided by the Department of Defence on its workers’ compensation activities undertaken in relation to members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) under Comcare delegation. It should be noted that the nature of ADF claims is quite different from that of the mainstream public service. Care should therefore be taken when comparing performance data between premium and ADF claims.

Military Compensation Scheme

The Military Compensation Scheme provides compensation cover and rehabilitation support for members and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The Scheme consists of

  • the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act), as amended by the Military Compensation Act 1994
  • Chapter 10, Part 5 of the Defence Determination 2003/21 under the Defence Act 1903
  • the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, as amended by the Military Compensation Act 1994.

The number of ADF personnel covered by the Scheme at 30 June 2004 was 105,516
as described in Table 18.

Table 18: ADF serving members

Permanent Force
(Navy, Army, Air Force)

Reserve Force
(Navy, Army, Air Force)

School Cadets and Officers/Instructors

51,819

26,927

26,770

Military Compensation and Rehabilitation Service

Since 1999, the Military Compensation and Rehabilitation Service (MCRS) within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has provided claims management and rehabilitation services to the Department of Defence under the Military Compensation Scheme. The MCRS, which operates under a Service Level Agreement between the two Departments, has responsibility for administering the SRC Act component of the Scheme, on delegation from Comcare, and the Defence Determination 2003/21. The Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 component is administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

The MCRS also provides transition management services on behalf of the Department of Defence
to assist ADF members who are being discharged on medical grounds to make a successful transition to civilian life.

The MCRS has regional offices in all capital cities and Townsville with a National Office in Canberra.

Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004

The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 were passed by the Parliament
on 1 April 2004. The Acts established a new Military Compensation Scheme, which commenced
on 1 July 2004.

The new scheme is a modern, military-specific scheme designed to meet the future needs of service personnel and their families. It combines the best provisions of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 and is the first compensation scheme in the ADF’s history to specifically deal with the special nature of military service in all its forms, warlike, non-warlike and peacetime.

The scheme applies to injuries or diseases that are related to ADF service on or after 1 July 2004. Claims for injuries or diseases related to ADF service before that date will continue to be determined under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 and Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

A new authority, the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, is responsible for the management of the new scheme which will be administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004, responsibility for the management of the SRC Act as it applies to ADF members is transferred from Comcare to the new Commission and administration of the Act will rest directly with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. This ends the arrangement under which the Military Compensation and Rehabilitation Service administered claims under the SRC Act on behalf of the Department of Defence on delegation from Comcare.

The ADF’s occupational health and safety responsibilities are not affected and will continue to be governed by the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991.

MCRS workload and performance

In 2003 – 04 6,837 new claims were received, an increase of 13.5% on the previous year. The table below lists new claims received since 1999 – 00.

Table 19: Claims received since 1999 – 00

Year

Claims received

1999 – 00

5,844

2000 – 01

6,543

2001 – 02

6,408

2002 – 03

6,020

2003 – 04

6,837

Reconsiderations and appeals

The table below details outcomes for reconsiderations and applications for review of decisions by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for 2003 – 04 and the previous year.

Table 20: Outcomes for reconsiderations and appeals

Reconsiderations and appeals

2002-03

2003-04

Primary decisions on liability

6,249

6,302

Primary decisions denying liability

1,844 (29%)

1,236 (20%)

Requests for reconsideration

1,636

1,639

Requests for reconsideration decided

1,594

1,487

Original decision affirmed

1,260 (78%)

1,112 (75%)

Applications to AAT

323

393

AAT applications decided

315

300

Decisions affirmed by AAT

216 (68%)

183 (61%)

SRC Act expenditure

Expenditure determined under the SRC Act by the MCRS for 2003 – 04 on workers’ compensation and rehabilitation related benefits and legal and specialist medical examination costs were $144,487,887. This is an increase of $4.89m (3.5%) on the previous year. A further $2,606,745
was expended under the Defence Determination 2003/21.

The following table shows changes in expenditure since 1999 – 00.

Table 21: SRC Act expenditure since 1999 – 00

Year

Expenditure $ million

1999 – 00

117.04

2000 – 01

122.63

2001 – 02

132.56

2002 – 03

139.60

2003 – 04

144.49

The table below shows the major areas of expenditure during 2003 – 04 compared with the
previous year.

Table 22: Major areas of expenditure

SRC Act provision

2002–03
$ million

2003–04
$ million

Incapacity payments

56.99

60.79

Permanent impairment
(including non-economic loss)

48.31

43.76

Medical expenses

15.10

18.72

Other

19.2

21.22

Total costs

139.6

144.49

Number of accepted claims per 100 employees

During 2003 – 04, the MCRS accepted 5,066 claims under the SRC Act. This is a rate of 8.9 accepted claims per 100 employees. It should be noted, however, that many of the claims decided were from former members and related to injuries and illnesses that occurred some years previous.

Administrative costs

The administrative cost to the Department of Defence of the SRC Act and Defence Determination 2003/21 components of the Military Compensation Scheme for 2003 – 04 was $13.843m or 10.2%
of benefits determined.