This e-newsletter keeps you informed of developments in our diverse jurisdiction of more than 400,000 workers and 200 employers.
We are working to find better ways to prevent injury and support timely, safe and durable return to work in a complex operating environment of workplace transformation, technological change and psychosocial
Our scheme's performance remains strong, with ongoing reductions in claim frequency and premium rates. These trends continue to have a positive impact on the scheme's financial health, but we still face challenges in improving return to work outcomes – particularly for workers with psychological injuries.
While we refine our intelligence-led approach to regulation and improve our claims management practices, Comcare is testing practical, evidence-based initiatives to minimise harm, enhance the wellbeing of workers, and improve participation and productivity.
Use our eNews subscription to tailor your updates on Comcare's programs to promote and enable safe and healthy work.
Like every business and organisation, Comcare's operations have been impacted by COVID-19. During this period of uncertainty and disruption, our highest priority has been the health and wellbeing of our people and stakeholders.
A key change was suspending our face-to-face training and events. Comcare LMS, our new online learning management system, has been released to support continued learning and development. However, Comcare's biennial National Conference, due to be held in September 2020, has been postponed until May 2021 – you'll hear more about the event later this year, including our National Work Health and Safety Awards.
There has been no interruption to claims operations and we continue to support clients and stakeholders. We have published detailed information and resources about WHS and workers' compensation during COVID-19, including FAQs and advice on coverage, mental health and wellbeing, telehealth, medical examinations, rehabilitation assessments and return to work programs.
MBS Telehealth services have been introduced to help patients access health services safely by videoconference or telephone. These new items substitute face-to-face consultations normally available under Medicare. For more information, download the COVID-19 Telehealth Service Factsheet.
We are prioritising regulatory activities to ensure we can continue to respond to serious incidents. Along with state and territory WHS regulators, Comcare has agreed to a National Statement of Regulatory Intent which outlines our approach to regulation during COVID-19. Safe Work Australia has also produced extensive COVID-19 guidance with resources to assist a broad range of industries.
Employers are required to notify us of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 that are work-related and arise from the business or undertaking. We will monitor patterns of notifications or any high-risk exposures and may take further regulatory action.
Comcare is focused on the health and safety of our people and stakeholders, while supporting our jurisdiction to provide safe and healthy workplaces during this disruption and uncertainty.
As we begin to plan the transition back to our offices over the coming weeks, you can contact us via phone or email. Work health and safety is our highest priority. We monitor this situation daily and regularly update our COVID-19 guidance.
Comcare's guidance includes a detailed checklist to help manage WHS risks for working from home, with advice on communication, physical activity, work practices and environment, and mental health. Additional WHS guidance is available on our website.
We have published resources including factsheets for employers and employees with practical tips covering workspace, staying connected, maintaining a routine and supporting work-life balance.
Our website includes information on workers' compensation coverage for home-based work.
Comcare's COVID-19 resources are being updated regularly – for more information visit the Comcare website.
Whether it's live workshops, digital and self-paced learning, guidance materials, presentations or forums – the Comcare LMS aims to cater for a broad range of approaches.
Comcare's curriculum covers a broad range of topics including legislation, workplace rehabilitation and case management, psychological health and safety, workers' compensation payroll and establishing effective health and safety committees.
The catalogue of content, courses and programs will be expanded over the coming months as we continue to identify and develop learning opportunities and partnerships that would be useful for the jurisdiction.
We are now partnering with Beyond Blue to offer NewAccess over a two-year period to all interested employers in our jurisdiction. Comcare will also add to the trial results by further evaluating the effectiveness of NewAccess in workplaces.
NewAccess can be delivered via phone and telehealth. It can be accessed without a GP referral or mental health treatment plan, and it can be successfully delivered by a non-clinical LiCBT-qualified mental health workforce. The ability to provide national coverage makes it easy for employees working from home or remotely to access support services and helps reduce the increasing demand on Australia's health system.
Importantly, participating employers will receive marketing resources to promote the service, along with aggregated and de-identified data to inform potential strategies to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their workplace.
NewAccess is designed for individuals experiencing mild to moderate levels of depression and/or anxiety, with a strong focus on prevention and early intervention. A key insight from the evaluation of the initial Comcare trial was that psychological therapies can be delivered successfully by non-clinical coaches to help manage mental health in the workplace.
The Expansion Trial is expected to be launched around July-August 2020. To support interested employers with immediate COVID-19 mental health staff challenges, Comcare will be offering the NewAccess service to such agencies from late May to early June 2020. Other participating agencies will be gradually phased into the program over the subsequent weeks.
Employees called our independent service provider for a phone consultation with a triage nurse who clinically assessed their injury or illness and provided treatment advice and a referral (if appropriate).
Workers called the service with the following conditions:
sprains and strains (63 per cent)
psychological injury (19 per cent)
injury of joint, ligament, muscle or tendon (13 per cent)
other injuries (3 per cent)
burns (1 per cent)
laceration, amputation and internal organ injury (1 per cent)
The leading mechanism of injury were:
body stressing (70 per cent)
psychological (18 per cent)
falls, trips and slips (5 per cent)
Following triage, workers were supported to access timely and clinically appropriate treatment.
Workers were triaged to the following treatment approaches:
physiotherapist (55 per cent)
general practitioners (21 per cent)
psychologists (16 per cent)
self-managed treatment (4 per cent)
Participants reported positive experiences:
"Experience was easy from (the) start from speaking to the nurse to be assessed to receiving the email with my booking. Appointment available on same day as I spoke to (the) nurse. Practitioner was very good and experienced. Would highly recommend. Thank you." (Pilot participant)
An independent consultant is formally evaluating the pilot. The final report is due in July 2020, and will be published on our early intervention research page.
The publication was developed following extensive consultation with GPs and health professionals, the disability sector, unions, employers, employee representatives, benefits and income support providers and academics.
The Collaborative Partnership is a national alliance including Comcare; the ACTU; EML; Insurance Council of Australia (ICA); Department of Education, Skills and Employment; Department of Social Services; the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), and the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM), a faculty of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.