Delivering Firefighters Cancer Compensation
The Andrews Labor Government is legislating to provide presumptive rights to cancer compensation for both career and volunteer firefighters along with delivering other changes to build modern fire services for a growing Victoria.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Deputy Premier James Merlino were joined by firefighters who fought on Black Saturday as the Labor Government introduces the Firefighters’ Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment (Reform) Bill 2017.
The Bill delivers to career and volunteer firefighters who access claims for cancer compensation a legal presumption that the cause of their cancer was firefighting. These laws recognise the invaluable service provided by firefighters, which often requires them to work in inherently dangerous situations.
Administered through WorkSafe, the new scheme will apply to career and volunteer firefighters who have served as firefighters for the relevant number of years, depending on the cancer type, and have been diagnosed since 1 June 2016.
Rules that require firefighters to have attended a specific number of fires are problematic, so the requirements are being modelled on Queensland, which has no specific incident requirements.
The scheme will also take into account exceptional exposure events, enabling firefighters who have attended such an event to qualify for the presumption even if they do not meet the minimum years of service.
An expert committee will be established to advise WorkSafe on these matters.
The Government will also create a dedicated assistance fund to support the very small number of people who may not fit the criteria of this scheme.
The Bill will also establish Fire Rescue Victoria and further enshrine the CFA as a volunteer firefighting organisation. FRV will be led by a new Fire Rescue Commissioner, and a Strategic Advisory Committee will be established in legislation to advise FRV on a range of organisational matters.
The Bill will enshrine the central role of volunteers in the CFA, by creating an additional responsibility for the CFA Board to support the recruitment, development and retention of volunteers.
The Bill also proposes to alter the boundary of the Metropolitan Fire District to include outer suburban and major regional areas serviced by the 35 CFA integrated stations. The Bill will establish a Fire District Review Panel to undertake future reviews of the boundary between FRV and CFA areas.
Importantly, the Bill ensures that volunteers at the 35 integrated stations transferring to FRV can continue to operate as they have under the leadership of the CFA Chief Officer, by providing additional powers that the CFA may exercise within the Fire Rescue Victoria fire district.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“Firefighters risk their lives to keep us safe and they deserve our total support – making these important changes will enshrine that in law.”
“No longer will firefighters have to prove the clear medical link between cancer and firefighting.”
Quotes attributable to Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino
“Long-awaited presumptive cancer rights for volunteer and career firefighters were denied by the previous Liberal Government, but they will now be delivered.”
“These important changes will deliver more modern fire services for a growing Victoria, making our state even safer.”