Changes to Firefighters' Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment (Reform) Act 2019 (FPRC Act) commenced on 1 September 2022. The changes, led by Emergency Management Victoria, extend presumptive rights compensation to vehicle and equipment maintenance employees engaged by the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV).
Extending presumptive rights for specified cancers to vehicle and equipment maintenance employees employed by CFA or the FRV recognises the critical role they play in maintaining firefighting equipment at the fire scene and provides equal coverage for persons employed in those roles.
Vehicle and equipment maintenance employees are required to attend fires to repair and refuel fire trucks. They are exposed to the same carcinogens as firefighters when attending fires to clean and maintain firefighting equipment.
Victoria is the first Australian state to extend presumptive rights coverage to vehicle and equipment maintenance employees.
What presumptive rights means
Vehicle and equipment maintenance employees who satisfy the criteria for presumptive rights now have an entitlement for compensation under Victoria's Workers' Compensation Scheme (the scheme).
This means that if a vehicle and equipment maintenance employees who satisfies the relevant criteria is diagnosed with a specified cancer, they no longer need to prove that the cancer is directly attributable to their service as a vehicle and equipment maintenance employees.
The presumption applies unless it can be established that the cancer was not caused by their service.
The types of cancers covered
A list of the specified cancers and their relevant qualifying service periods.
How to know whether you may be eligible
Vehicle and equipment maintenance employees must satisfy an eligibility test based on length of service.
This compensation applies to:
- vehicle and equipment maintenance employees with a cancer diagnosis on or after 1 June 2016
- currently serving vehicle and equipment maintenance employees
- former vehicle and equipment maintenance employees within 10 years of ceasing employment
A partial year of service is counted as a full year of service to recognise seasonal workers. Previous service as a volunteer or career firefighter and equivalent interstate service count toward the qualifying period.
Claimants without the minimum service period can still qualify if they can demonstrate they attended an exceptional exposure event.
How your eligibility is decided
All vehicle and equipment maintenance employees employee claims for presumptive rights require an expert opinion from an independent Advisory Committee established under the legislation. The committee provides non-binding advice to WorkSafe as to whether a vehicle and equipment maintenance employees:
- meets the eligibility requirements to receive the presumption
- has attended an 'exceptional exposure event' and is eligible to receive special consideration
How an 'exceptional exposure event' is determined
Where a vehicle and equipment maintenance employees meets all the requirements except the qualifying period, they can apply for special consideration to assess whether they have attended an exceptional exposure event in order to receive the presumption. The FPRC Act does not define what an exceptional exposure event is. However, the committee will consider:
- the nature of the event
- whether there are any relevant findings from a coroner, court proceedings or official inquiry regarding an event known to have exposed firefighters to carcinogens
- relevant records, employer data or local knowledge
- any other matters prescribed by the regulations
How to make a claim
You can submit the Worker's injury claim form to the organisation that engaged you as a vehicle and equipment maintenance employees.
The organisation will then provide your completed form to its WorkSafe Agent who will review the information on your form and determine whether you meet the requirements of the presumptive legislation.
If you do meet the requirements, the Agent will refer your claim to an Advisory Committee to determine whether you have attended fires to the extent reasonably necessary to meet the requirements of the presumptive legislation.
The Advisory Committee has been established to provide the Agent with an expert opinion on your claim.
Information about making a claim
What does the Advisory Committee look for?
The Advisory Committee will consider relevant records, employer data and local knowledge.
Make sure to include this information in your claim where possible.
You will also have the opportunity to provide further information directly to the Advisory Committee if needed.
The Advisory Committee will provide its expert opinion to the Agent within 10 days of receiving the request.
Once the Agent has received the expert opinion, they will assess your compensation claim and make a decision to accept or reject your claim.
How to lodge a claim if you were previously rejected under the existing scheme
If a vehicle and equipment maintenance employee injured on or after 1 June 2016 had a claim rejected under the existing workers' compensation scheme, it can be re-lodged for consideration under the presumptive rights scheme.
Compensation entitlements to be paid
Vehicle and equipment maintenance employees who qualify for compensation under the presumptive rights scheme will be entitled to the relevant worker's compensation benefits provided by WorkSafe.
Need more help?
We want to make things as easy as possible for you during this difficult and distressing time. If you have any questions about this process, please contact the WorkSafe Advisory Service or the Agent.
WorkSafe Advisory Service
WorkSafe's advisory service is available between 7:30am and 6:30pm Monday to Friday. If you need more support, you can also contact WorkSafe using the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) or the National Relay Service.