Compensation Rort (icare program) Leaves Injured In Deficit
An insolvent workers compensation scheme with a deficit of $4 billion was handed over to the Coalition in 2011. When they came to power, the new Government implemented a scheme that reduced the deficit. The scheme was actually topped up and handed over with a $4 billion surplus, according to the ABC. However, the new insolvent workers compensation scheme cut thousands of worker’s benefits.
To make sure the scheme remained profitable, Mr Perrottet, appointed Minister for Finance, created a new structure for the scheme. This entailed the development of a body called icare, with its own board. Icare was designated to handle insurance claims under the watchful eye of a watchdog called the State Insurance Regulatory Authority.
SIRA commissioned a compliance and performance review in 2019. The review unveiled problems that began the year before. At this time, icare appointed a new insurance agent called EML to manage all new claims.
EML purportedly did not have enough experience to handle the volume of claims being processed. It was found that workers with compensation claims were returning to work in droves 10% smaller than in years previous. This figure was lower than in other similar compensation schemes too.
This outcome may have resulted from poor IT infrastructure that resulted in a difficult user experience during claims management. The State Insurance Regulatory Authority said it had ‘grave concerns’ about how icare was managing their responsibility. The body was tasked with providing $2.2B per annum in worker’s compensation claims. The digital technology was seen as too difficult to operate by some claimants.
Further investigation by the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that the icare program may in fact be in deficit. Indeed, 52,000 independent workers were underpaid by up to $80 million. Icare has been stubborn to the regulator and slow to hand over information.
Matters of poor effectiveness were raised by the media to Mr Perrottet. All that was said was that icare was doing a “superb job” and it “should be applauded”. This is ironic, considering that Mr Perrottet’s Chief of Staff, Nigel Freitas, resigned shortly after the investigation. It emerged that two of his staff were being paid directly by icare.
Perrottet was made Treasurer at the age of only 34. He has thrived thanks to his undoubted energy and advocacy for some hard but unpopular reforms. These include the switch from stamp duty to land tax.
Perrottet’s response on icare however suggests a lack of political maturity. This has also been seen in his botched attempt to reform the Emergency Services Levy. Similarly, the sentiment is reflected by his switching seats at the recent election in order to reduce his commuting time.
Essentially, cutting payouts for workers and making it impossible for some injured workers to return to work is unethical. The lack of experience retained by the EML team has led to a devastating situation for thousands of workers. These workers are now out of pocket and are unable to claim compensation payouts.
To avoid worker’s compensation claims at your workplace, ensure the building you work in has been inspected thoroughly. A professional inspection report will list defects and other conditions that pose a risk to the health of occupants. SBDIR provides building inspections reports all over Sydney. Contact us today on 0419 416 040 to arrange an inspection at your property.