The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten has released the report of Seacare Scheme review on Monday.
The report sets out 67 recommendations to improve the scheme’s coverage, governance, workers’ compensation costs and legislative inconsistencies.
A number of the recommendations seek to align the Seafarers Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 with the reforms recently proposed to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 by Mr Peter Hanks QC.
It also recommends that the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993 be updated to make it consistent with the model Work Health and Safety laws where appropriate for the maritime industry.
“Consistent with the Gillard Government’s approach across work health and safety, we want to ensure we have an equitable and cost-effective workers’ compensation system which has an emphasis on rehabilitation and return to work,” said Mr Shorten.
“The maritime industry is vital to our economy. It is important that those workers and employers covered by the Seacare Scheme have a modern, best practice scheme that reduces the risk of injury in what is an inherently dangerous industry.
“We are committed to harmonising and modernising the Seacare Scheme to help injured workers recover quickly and return to work safely,” he said.
The Government commissioned the review in 2012 to make sure that the Seacare Scheme was useful and effective for Australian seafarers. The Scheme has not been comprehensively reviewed since its establishment in 1992.
“The legislation underpinning the Seacare Scheme has not kept pace with changes in harmonisation of work health and safety laws, workers’ compensation reforms or maritime reforms,” said Mr Shorten.
“This has made the scheme complex and resulted in uncertainties in determining which vessels are covered under the Scheme and which are covered under the various state or territory schemes.”
Minister Shorten will be consulting with Seacare Scheme stakeholders on the review’s recommendations.