Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten today released a report on ways to improve seafarers work health and safety outcomes.
The Gillard Government commissioned the review in 2012 to ensure that the Seacare Scheme was working effectively and efficiently for Australian seafarers.
The Scheme has not been comprehensively reviewed since it was established in 1992.
“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.”
“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,” Minister Shorten said.
With the Government’s introduction of the national work health and safety laws, it is important to ensure the Seacare Scheme continues to provide an effective framework for rehabilitation and compensation support to injured seafarers.
“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 industry reforms.”
“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.”
The review conducted by Mr Robin Stewart-Crompton emphasises the complex legislative and administrative structure of the scheme and its relatively poor performance compared to similar schemes.
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 changes recently proposed to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 by Mr Peter Hanks QC.
“I want to thank Mr Stewart-Crompton for his work and everyone else who contributed to the review,” Minister Shorten said.
“I will be consulting with Seacare Scheme stakeholders on the recommendations of the Review. This will help to inform our approach to harmonising and modernising the scheme for the benefit of workers and employers.”
“While the Gillard Government has a clear plan to improve health and safety in our workplaces in the future, Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party have no plans.”
The Seacare Scheme is a national scheme for a specific section of the maritime industry. There are 8000 workers and 32 employers of seafarers within the scheme.
The report is available online at: http://deewr.gov.au/seafarers-rehabilitation-and-compensation-act-review.