Comcare - Australian Government
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External scrutiny

External audit

In 2010–11 Comcare was not subject to any review by the ANAO other than that required for forming an opinion on Comcare’s financial statements and the Seacare Authority’s financial statements.

Ombudsman

Comcare received 12 investigation inquiries from the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman finalised 12 investigations: 11 found ‘no administrative deficiency’ and no further action was required by Comcare.

One found ‘administrative deficiency on the grounds of unreasonable delay’. The Ombudsman defines unreasonable delay as an agency taking too long without good cause to make a decision or take an action.

There are currently no active Ombudsman complaints and all matters responded to have been finalised by the Ombudsman.

Members of the Stakeholder Relations complaints team met with our primary contact in the Ombudsman’s Office, Mr Peter Edwards, on 10 February 2011. These meetings are held approximately every six months to discuss current complaints and potential trends and to encourage open communication between our offices.

Comcare continues to set its standards in line with the Ombudsman’s Better Practice Guide to Complaint Handling. In addition, Comcare’s Audit Committee commissioned Oakton to conduct an independent review of complaint handling. The audit findings confirmed that Comcare’s processes are in line with better practice. A small number of minor recommendations were made, which will be addressed this calendar year.

Review of decisions

On 22 September 2010, the Federal Court handed down its decision in the matter of Broadhurst v Comcare [2011] FCAFC 39. The Court found that Table 14.17 of the Guide to the Assessment of the Degree of Permanent Impairment Second Edition (the Guide) is inapplicable to the extent that it does not provide a 10% impairment value.

On 18 March 2011, the Full Federal Court handed down the decision of Comcare v Broadhurst and clarified that where the Guide cannot be used, assessments should be made in accordance with the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment Fifth Edition (AMA5).

These decisions have an impact upon permanent impairment assessments to be made using a table of the Guide that does not provide a 10% impairment value.

Comcare issued Interim Policy Guidance on 22 March 2011 to assist determining authorities following the Broadhurst decision. The Interim Policy Guidance is available on Comcare’s website.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal decision in Heffernan and Comcare [2010] AATA 824 determined that compensation paid to redeployed incapacitated employees under section 19 of the SRC Act should be based on the normal weekly hours in his or her employment after the injury. Comcare has appealed the Tribunal’s decision to the Full Federal Court. The hearing is scheduled for 23 August 2011.