The Comcare scheme

Scheme overview

The Comcare scheme:

  • works in partnership with employers and their employees to prevent workplace injuries
  • appropriately uses regulatory sanctions for any demonstrable failure of the employer’s duty of care
  • empowers employers to work with their employees to maintain an employee with a workplace injury at work, or to achieve an early, safe and durable return to work
  • provides employees with a workplace injury with a statutory package of economic and non-economic benefits.

Governing legislation

The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act) provides the legislative framework for the Comcare scheme. The SRC Act establishes Comcare and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC), and sets out the functions and powers of these bodies.

Comcare has functions and responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act). The main object of the WHS Act is to provide for a balanced and nationally consistent framework to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces.

Roles and responsibilities

Comcare is the statutory authority established under the SRC Act, and with the SRCC we administer the Commonwealth’s statutory framework for rehabilitation and workers’ compensation.

Comcare’s role is to support participation and productivity through healthy and safe workplaces that minimise the impact of harm in workplaces covered by Comcare.

Comcare also has functions and responsibilities under the Asbestos-related Claims (Management of Commonwealth Liabilities) Act 2005.

Comcare provides advice and services to the SRCC and the Seafarers Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Authority (Seacare Authority).

Comcare is the national work health and safety regulator under the federal WHS Act.

More information is available in the About Comcare and About the SRCC sections of each annual report (pages 10 and 66 respectively).

Figure 1: Commonwealth safety, rehabilitation and compensation scheme

Commonwealth safety, rehabilitation and compensation scheme

Scheme profile

The following tables provide an overview of the Comcare scheme’s performance at 30 June 2017. The tables include performance in 2016–17 compared to 2015–16. All data in these tables were extracted on 25 July 2017, unless otherwise indicated (refer to WHS notifications).

Table 1: Scheme coverage

Scheme coverage12015–162016–17
Under WHS Act 406,810 410,634
Australian Government (WHS Act)* 185,749 187,726
Self-insured licensees 158,912 160,908
Australian Defence Force 62,149 62,000
Under SRC Act 375,954 388,377
Australian and ACT Governments (SRC Act)* 208,228 209,552
Self-insured licensees 167,726 178,825

*The difference between Australian Government (WHS Act) and, Australian and ACT Governments (SRC Act) is represented in Figure 1.

Table 2: Scheme workers’ compensation data


Incidence of claims lodged*

Australian and ACT Governments (SRC Act) 13.5 11.6
Self-insured licensees 19.8 19.4
Scheme 16.3 15.2

Incidence of accepted claims*

Australian and ACT Governments (SRC Act) 9.6 8.1
Self-insured licensees 15.1 15.2
Scheme 12.0 11.4

Incidence of serious claims*

Australian and ACT Governments (SRC Act) 5.9 5.1
Self-insured licensees 6.6 6.8
Scheme 6.2 5.9

Total number of compensable deaths

Australian and ACT Governments (SRC Act) 9 16
Self-insured licensees 3 7
Scheme 12 23

*All incidence rates are per 1000 FTE employees.

Table 3: Notifications of work health and safety incidents2

Notification type Sector2015–162016–17*

Serious injury or illness

Australian Government (WHS Act) 195 195
Self-insured licensees 148 164
Australian Defence Force 180 180
Comcare’s WHS jurisdiction total 523 539

Dangerous incidents

Australian Government (WHS Act) 391 395
Self-insured licensees 270 234
Australian Defence Force 191 152
Comcare’s WHS jurisdiction total 852 781

Notifiable worker fatalities

Australian Government (WHS Act) 5 5
Self-insured licensees 6 5
Australian Defence Force 3 5
Comcare’s WHS jurisdiction total 14 15

*Notification data extracted on 24 July 2017.
Note: Not all Self-insured licensees within Comcare’s scheme are covered by the WHS Act.

Table 4: Scheme disputation rates


Number of reconsideration requests received

Australian and ACT Governments (SRC Act) 2024 2583
Self-insured licensees 1506 1229
Scheme 3530 3812

Reconsideration affirmation rate3

Comcare affirmation rate (premium payers) 83% 81%
Self-insured licensees affirmation rate 80% 83%
Scheme affirmation rate 82% 81%

Number of AAT applications made

Australian and ACT Governments (SRC Act) 714 916
Self-insured licensees 647 567
Scheme 1361 1483

Table 5: Rehabilitation and return to work


Median lost time (weeks)

Australian and ACT Governments (SRC Act) 7.5 7.6
Self-insured licensees 4.4 4.6
Scheme 5.3 5.5

Median lost time (weeks) injury claims

Australian and ACT Governments (SRC Act) 5.3 5.7
Self-insured licensees 4.1 4.4
Scheme 4.6 4.9

Median lost time (weeks) disease claims

Australian and ACT Governments (SRC Act) 9.1 9.7
Self-insured licensees 4.8 4.9
Scheme 7.2 6.9

1 Full time equivalent FTE employees.
2 As per Part 3 of the WHS Act.
3 Affirmation rate is the percentage of reviewable decisions that affirmed the original determination with a decision in the reporting period. Excludes initiated by own motion and withdrawn.