About Comcare

Comcare overview

Comcare is a statutory authority established under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act). Comcare has a number of powers and functions conferred under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and SRC Act. Comcare is also responsible for managing the Commonwealth’s asbestos-related claims liabilities under the Asbestos-related Claims (Management of Commonwealth Liabilities) Act 2005 (ARC Act).

Comcare supports participation and productivity nationally through healthy and safe workplaces that minimise the impact of harm.

Comcare’s programmes and services are used by:

  • Australian Government agencies and authorities
  • national companies licensed by the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC)
  • members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF)—when not at war—including reservists and cadets
  • the ACT Government
  • individuals making claims against the Commonwealth for asbestos-related conditions.

These employers and employees are in a range of industries including government services, transport and logistics, financial and banking services, construction, telecommunications, defence and postal services.

The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) establishes a system of governance and accountability for public resources, with an emphasis on planning, performance and reporting. Under the PGPA Act, Comcare is a corporate Commonwealth entity and is:

  • a body corporate
  • established for a public purpose that holds money on its own account
  • governed by an accountable authority
  • legally financially separate from the Commonwealth
  • subject to the Commonwealth Procurement Rules under PGPA Act, Rule 30.

Insurer role

Under the SRC Act, Comcare is the claims and liability manager for premium paying employers (Commonwealth departments and agencies, and the ACT Government) in the workers’ compensation scheme. This role includes the setting and collecting of premiums specific to each agency. Comcare’s role is comparable to that of an insurer and fund manager as it has the power under the SRC Act to apply premiums to meet Comcare’s liability and claims administration cost.

Scheme manager role

Comcare has a range of other functions and powers under the SRC Act that relate to the management of the Comcare scheme. These functions span across the entire scheme covering premium paying employers and self-insured licensees. These functions comprise:

  • developing, issuing, maintaining and monitoring the legislative and policy framework for the scheme, ranging from legislative instruments under the SRC Act to guidance issued for scheme employers on particular provisions
  • collecting, managing and reporting ‘whole-of-scheme’ data and trends
  • working with and supporting the SRCC to manage the entry, monitoring and management of self-insured licensees and any outsourced claims management provider used by the licensees under the SRC Act —including the setting of annual cost-recovered licence fees for participation in the scheme
  • supporting the Seacare Authority to achieve its role and functions under its governing legislation
  • setting and collecting regulatory contributions for employers covered by the SRC Act and the WHS Act (who are not licensees, for example, the Australian Government, ADF and ACT Government)
  • advising the Minister on the operation and effectiveness of the SRC Act.

Regulator role

Comcare has regulatory functions and powers in relation to work health and safety (under the WHS Act) and workplace rehabilitation (under the SRC Act). In exercising these functions and powers, Comcare needs to be aware of the many ways that the activities of a regulatory agency can affect the behaviour of regulated entities and contribute to regulatory objectives.

Comcare’s compliance and enforcement activities are based on finding the right balance between:

  • fulfilling our responsibilities as a regulatory agency, being firm but fair
  • making full use of intelligence and data so that our activities are based on analysis of risk
  • enabling regulated entities to take responsibility for their own compliance, aiming to increase their levels of capability and commitment
  • being aware of the financial and other burdens that regulatory activities impose on regulated entities’ operations.

Comcare’s specific compliance and enforcement activities range across a spectrum from proactively providing information and advice, through making authorisation and approval decisions and monitoring the extent of compliance in the jurisdiction, to investigating contraventions. Comcare weighs up many factors depending on the circumstances of each particular case to arrive at the most appropriate response for each situation.

The Seafarers Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Authority

The Seafarers Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Authority (Seacare Authority) is responsible for overseeing the Seacare scheme. The Seacare scheme is a national scheme of occupational health and safety (OH&S)4, and rehabilitation and workers’ compensation arrangements which applies to defined seafaring employees.

The Seacare Authority is not a body corporate and does not employ its own staff. Under section 72A of the SRC Act Comcare must provide the Seacare Authority with secretariat support and other assistance, and to make available the services of such members of its staff as the Seacare Authority reasonably requires from time to time for the proper performance of its functions or exercise of its powers.

On behalf of the Seacare Authority, Comcare:

  • provides secretariat, policy and strategic support to the Seacare Authority, and assistance in implementing its decisions
  • administers Seacare scheme legislation and monitors the operation of such legislation
  • manages the annual appropriation for supporting the Seacare function
  • monitors and reports on Seacare scheme performance
  • prepares an annual report to the Parliament
  • reports to the Minister
  • liaises and communicates with Seacare scheme stakeholders and other like regulators
  • promotes the objectives of the Seacare scheme, particularly the reduction of the human and financial costs of workplace injury in the Australian maritime industry.

Information about the Accountable Authority

Under the PGPA Act, Comcare is a corporate Commonwealth entity with a Chief Executive Officer as the accountable authority.

Ms Jennifer Taylor is Chief Executive Officer of Comcare. She has held a variety of Deputy Secretary roles in the Department of Employment and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Ms Taylor has extensive experience in employment and workforce issues, including economic and labour market analysis. She has also worked in senior positions in the South Australian Government in policy areas of employment, youth, industrial affairs and workers’ compensation and WHS.

Ms Taylor is currently Chair, Collaborative Partnership of Work Participation; Member, Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission; Member, Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities; Member, Heads of Workers’ Compensation Authorities; Member, Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and Deputy Chair of the Seacare Authority.

Ms Taylor holds a Graduate Certificate in Management from the University of Adelaide and is a Graduate, Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Organisational structure

Figure 2: Comcare’s organisation chart—at 1 July 2017

Organisational Chart

Comcare’s Executive

Table 6: Comcare’s Executive for 2016–17

Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Taylor
Chief Executive Officer
1 July 2016—ongoing

General Managers

Aaron Hughes
Scheme Management
1 July 2016—ongoing
Gary Jeffery
Claims Management
1 July 2016—ongoing
Justin Napier
Regulatory Operations
1 July 2016—ongoing
Lynette Maclean
Corporate Management Group
1 July 2016—ongoing
Natalie Bekis
Strategic Research and Innovation
29 May 2017—ongoing
Tony Middlebrook
1 July 2016—ongoing
Departed Comcare Bruce Watson
Executive General Manager
Claims and Liability Management
1 July 2016—31 January 2017

Comcare’s locations

Table 7: Comcare’s office locations

National office Australian Capital Territory
Level 4
121 Marcus Clarke Street
Canberra ACT 2600

Regional offices

Sydney office
Level 30
Sydney Central Building
477 Pitt Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Newcastle office
Suite 1
47 Bolton Street
Newcastle NSW 2300
Victoria office
Level 6
535 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
South Australia office
Level 6
26 Flinders Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Queensland office
Level 13
410 Queen Street
Brisbane QLD 4000
Western Australia office
Level 5
89 St Georges Terrace
Perth WA 6000

4 As per the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993.