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Report on performance

Outcome 2

An early and safe return to work and access to compensation for injured workers covered by the Comcare scheme through working in partnership with employers to create best practice in rehabilitation and quick and accurate management of workers’ compensation claims

Program 1.2 has the following components:

  • Component 1.2.1: SRC Act regulation.
  • Component 1.2.2: Management of premium claims.
  • Component 1.2.3: Management of pre-premium claims.
  • Component 1.2.4: Provide support to the Seafarers Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Authority (Seacare Authority).

The objectives of program 1.2 were:

  • to improve the quality of support for harmed workers to cope with change, challenges and with disability
  • to ensure a speedy recovery and return to health
  • to achieve an early and durable return to meaningful work
  • to provide equitable workers’ compensation outcomes for harmed workers
  • to ensure the continued viability of the Comcare workers’ compensation scheme
  • reduce the value of outstanding liabilities
  • to provide assurance that Comcare scheme employers have effective claims and injury management systems in place
  • to ensure that licensed self-insurers conform with their conditions of licence and meet the continuous improvement targets.

Comcare set out to:

  • provide high quality and timely policy advice on rehabilitation and workers’ compensation to the Minister and the Commission
  • provide high quality and timely advice and support on safety, rehabilitation and workers’ compensation to the Seacare Authority
  • provide advice to employers to help them prevent injuries at work and to achieve the early and safe return to work of their injured employees
  • work collaboratively with employers to identify and promote better practices in rehabilitation
  • provide effective claims management services for Commonwealth entities and authorities and the ACT Government, having regard to the need for accurate and quick decision making
  • ensure the accurate and sound calculation of premiums so the scheme remains fully funded and appropriately reflects premium paying employers’ performances
  • provide assurance that scheme employers have effective claims and injury management systems in place
  • ensure that licensed self-insurers conform to their conditions of licence and meet continuous improvement targets
  • take action on outcomes from the Minister’s review of the scheme as it relates to rehabilitation, workers’ compensation and licensed self-insurance.

Table 2: Performance results for Program 1.2

PBS key performance indicators 2009–10 target 2009–10 achievement 2010–11 target 2010–11 achievement 2010–11 variation
Percentage reduction of claims that had 6 weeks or more time lost from work (baseline is the period 2000–01 to 2002–03). 16% 30% 18% 26% +8 percentage points
Percentage of premium-related total assets to premium related total liabilities. 110% 104% 110% 91% –19 percentage points
Percentage of licensees compliant with licensing obligations. 100% 100% 100% 100% 0 percentage points
Commonwealth average premium rate. 1.36% 1.25% 1.25% 1.20% –0.05 percentage points

Variance explanation

The scheme recorded 4.7 claims per 1000 FTE employees who reached six weeks or more lost time from work—a 26 per cent improvement since 2001–02. This resulted in the Commission’s reduction target of 18 per cent being achieved. However, the incidence of these claims has increased since 2008–09.

Pleasingly, the overall premium rate for the Commonwealth sector has decreased again this year. As a proportion of wages and salary, the premium has dropped from 1.36 per cent in 2008–09, to 1.25 per cent in 2009–10, and 1.20 per cent in 2010–11. This result reflects an overall reduction in claim frequency through the effective prevention of workplace injuries.

Certificate IV in Government—Injury Rehabilitation Management

Since the launch of the Certificate IV in Government (Injury Rehabilitation Management) in February 2009 the qualification has continued to grow and develop. The number of participants has increased to 75 enrolled students with 15 students having completed the qualification in the first two years.

This program is delivered through a strategic partnership between Comcare’s Learning and Development Solutions business unit and the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC).

Australia and New Zealand Return to Work Monitor

The Australia & New Zealand Return to Work Monitor (RTW Monitor) has provided the Heads of Workers’ Compensation Authorities with an indication of how participating Australian and New Zealand jurisdictions have compared with each other on a range of measures over 14 years. Injured workers are eligible to participate in the RTW Monitor if they lodged a claim seven to nine months prior to interview period and received compensation payments for being absent from work for ten or more days.

In early 2011, Comcare developed a new survey instrument, the Comcare Injured Worker Survey (IWS), to provide greater insights into the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of injured workers covered by the scheme. This survey, which is conducted by an independent research company on behalf of Comcare, included a number of the key measures from the RTW Monitor. Results from the May wave of the IWS were combined with the results from the RTW Monitor survey to determine the attitudes and perceptions of injured workers.

A total of 248 injured workers [the results reported are only representative of those injured workers who were paid ten or more days compensation and submitted a claim seven to nine months prior to the interview period] from premium paying agencies who deal directly with Comcare as the ‘insurer’, provided responses to the RTW Monitor, in November 2010, and the IWS, in May 2011. Comcare was thus able to compare itself with other jurisdictions on two service measures: responding to an injured worker’s enquiries and advising injured workers of their rights. When combined, it can be seen (Figure 2) that over the past few years injured workers covered by the Comcare scheme believe that the quality of service in these two areas has been lower than the quality of service injured workers covered by other schemes felt they received. In 2010–11, however, this trend changed with the largest ever recorded difference between Comcare and the combined performance of other participating jurisdictions.

Figure 2: Average rating of customer service [Developed in consultation with Campbell Research & Consulting]

Figure 2: Average rating of customer service

Injured worker survey

In 2010–11, Comcare sought to obtain information in relation to the attitudes, perceptions and experiences of injured workers. Of particular interest were their perceptions and experiences of a range of service areas, including:

  • keeping others informed
  • being available
  • knowledgeable staff
  • providing a clear explanation
  • treating people with dignity and respect
  • listening
  • being courteous and polite.

Injured workers were asked to rate Comcare in relation to these service attributes, and as can be seen in Figure 3, most rated Comcare positively. When asked to rate their overall satisfaction with the services they received from Comcare, 80 per cent reported that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the dealings they had had with Comcare in the six months prior to the survey. Despite these positive results however, only 40 per cent of injured workers reported that Comcare had exceeded their expectations of service.

Figure 3: Proportion of injured workers satisfied with Comcare’s service

Figure 3: Proportion of injured workers satisfied with Comcare's service

While this year’s results are positive and indicate that the new service delivery model has supported the delivery of quality services to Comcare’s injured workers, there are also opportunities to improve. The finalisation of Comcare’s new service charter will provide a good framework to assist in achieving a service delivery that exceeds the expectations of more injured workers.