Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union



Comcare changes inflict maximum pain

Jane* is hoping that the AMWU can defeat major Abbott Government changes to the federal Comcare scheme to spare other injured workers from the ordeal she is being put through.

The AMWU public service member faces being cut off most of her Comcare benefit for a permanent, degenerative illness of her nervous system. She needs regular intensive exercises supervised by a specialist trainer just to keep her moving freely enough so she can work.

“The cause was work-related, they accept that, they know my condition is not stable but they won’t accept my need for ongoing therapy to keep my body functioning,” she said.

“They send me to specialists, which costs thousands more but can’t offer a cure. There is none.

 “I feel Comcare is doubting my honesty, trying to intimidate people already suffering to get them off their books and I think these changes to the law might be the next step to formalise that.”

jane_doe.jpeg She’s talking about Abbott Government’s deceptively-named Improving Comcare  Scheme Bill which will harshly wind-back existing Comcare benefits, risking  leaving thousands of long-term injured in potential poverty unless they try to  prematurely return to their workplace.

 It’s a catch-22 choice which could affect many AMWU members in the public  service areas  and also in Border Express and John Holland companies.

 Unions are working to kill the bill in the Senate, and are making a submission to  a Senate Inquiry. 

Industrial Relations Minister Eric Abetz’s Improving Comcare Scheme Bill will:

  • Slash the compensation to most workers with a permanent impairment by over half
  • Crank up the pressure to go back to work by cutting payments, regardless of your condition
  • Narrow the definitions of injuries. It gives Comcare staff powers to deny compensation if they conclude an injured worker could have possibly suffered a similar injury at “about the same time” of their life or “the same stage” of life.
  • Allow Comcare to let the employer judge whether an injured worker is complying with rehabilitation and if not satisfied, cancel their benefits.
  • Reduce access to household help and attendant care

Union OH&S Co-ordinator Deborah Vallance said Comcare’s return to work rates were better than any state scheme but the cost of paid claims had climbed by a third and the value of its assets had fallen below its liabilities.

To save costs, Senator Abetz had decided to “squeeze the injured workers”.

Jane says Comcare is being encouraged to help  Budget bean-counters rather than do what it exists for – help employees hurt at work return to their jobs healthy, with dignity.

“They’re trying to break someone who is already broken, so I will cost them nothing.”

(* "Jane" is a pseudonym to protect this union member)

Share on


Dec 21, 2017

Orders from the Supreme Court - Notice

Orders from the Supreme Court have stipulated that we, the AMWU must post the attached...

Sep 21, 2017

Parliamentary Friends of Australian Books & Writers

The launch of the recently formed group the ‘Parliamentary Friends of Australian Books and Writers’...

Sep 15, 2017

No Whyalla Wipe-Out: AMWU members celebrate their win with the Community

The next chapter in Whyalla’s rich history in Steelmaking officially started on the 1st September,...

Happening now