The Queensland Government has made it easier and quicker for the state’s first responders, including mine rescue personnel, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to access support and compensation.
On Wednesday Parliament passed changes to workers compensation laws that mean that first responders’ diagnosed PTSD claims will be deemed work-related and they can get immediate treatment and benefits under the workers’ compensation scheme.
Industrial Relations Minister, Grace Grace, said first responders are exposed daily to traumatic incidents that most people could never imagine and the changes provide a smoother pathway to compensation and support.
“This provides these workers with dignity when they most need it, overcomes barriers to making a claim, and provides a safety net for people who put their health at risk every day to help others,” Ms Grace said.
“This is also a win for the families of first responders, whose rate of mental health conditions is 10 times higher than the Australian workforce generally.”
“We must do all we can to support those who support Queenslanders each and every day,” she said.
The changes will apply to thousands of frontline first responders including:
- Police officers, ambulance officers and paramedics;
- Firefighters including volunteers and rural fire brigade;
- State Emergency Service members;
- Corrective service officers;
- Authorised officers within child safety, youth justice staff members;
- Doctors and nurses working in certain areas such as emergency and trauma care and acute care;
- Local government and private sector workers performing the same roles, such as paramedics working in the not-for-profit sector or in mines rescue teams; and
- Departmental employees who are exposed traumatic incidents such as fire communications officers or emergency medical dispatchers.
Stephen Smyth, CFMEU Mining & Energy Queensland District President, said mine rescue personnel is also covered by the new laws.
“Mines rescue teams witness horrific scenes, and they need to receive support quickly and with a minimum of paperwork and legal hoops to jump through,” Mr Smyth said.
“Last week marked the anniversary of the underground gas explosion at the Grosvenor mine which left five miners fighting for their lives in hospital for months with terrible burns.”
“Our union appeared at Parliamentary hearings on this issue to ensure mine rescue personnel are covered,” he said.
“Our advocacy means it will flow on to other industries as well, like quarry and metalliferous mining.”
“This is an important improvement for Queensland’s first responders and the union will continue to advocate for better and fairer laws for mining and energy workers.”