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Thursday, 10 September 2015 00:00

Good News from Qld on Cancer Law

UPDATED 14 SEPTEMBER; There's good news from Queensland on presumptive legislation – the Firefighters' Cancer Law - a Queensland Parliamentary Committee has recommended legislation that treats paid and volunteer firefighters equally, and names the same 12 cancers and years-of-service requirements that appear in other States’ legislation.

The Queensland Parliamentary Committee had been tasked with comparing two different versions of presumptive legislation, one from the Queensland Labor Government, the other supported by the Coalition.

Queensland Labor’s Bill includes a discriminatory extra requirement that volunteers show 150 exposure incidents before they qualify for compensation, while the Coalition-supported Bill treats career and volunteer firefighters equally.  The two Bills are expected to go to a vote in the Queensland Parliament soon, possibly in a matter of days.

VFBV’s submission to the Parliamentary Committee called for legislation treating career and volunteer firefighters equally while listing the same 12 cancers and years-of-service requirements used in the Commonwealth and other States’ legislation.

The United Firefighters’ Union’s submission called for volunteers to show “a specified minimum of exposure incidents (150)”, but no such requirement for the staff working alongside them.

The UFU submission is surprising and disappointing because VFBV and UFU have been pursuing a joint campaign in Victoria since 2012 to ensure all Victorian career and volunteer firefighters are provided with access to their rightful entitlements in the event that they contract cancer, and VFBV will follow up this issue with UFU Secretary Peter Marshall.

VFBV urged the Queensland Committee to follow South Australia’s lead, where experience shows the actual cost of treating volunteers equally is a tiny fraction of the estimates made before the legislation was enacted, and the discriminatory extra requirement that volunteers show 150 exposures has now been dropped.

Click here to see the Queensland announcement on the Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland (RFBAQ) website.

Click here to see VFBV's recent media release, explaining presumptive legisaltion and the importance of treating paid and volunteer firefighters equally.

 

 

Published in VFBV News
Thursday, 16 July 2015 00:00

Cancer Law Battle in Queensland

With presumptive legislation at the committee stage in the Queensland Parliament, Queensland’s Labor Government is now trying to introduce a discriminatory extra eligibility requirement for volunteers.

With a private member’s Bill already proposing presumptive legislation that treats career and volunteer firefighters alike, the Queensland Government has introduced a Bill of its own that would introduce a discriminatory clause that only applies to volunteers and would require volunteers with cancer to have a minimum of 150 “exposure incidents” before they can qualify for presumptive compensation.

South Australian volunteers have already fought and won the battle against legislation requiring volunteers to have arbitrary numbers of turnouts, and the Queensland volunteers are gearing up to do the same, making sure Queensland Government MPs know exactly how they feel.

See the Queensland volunteers’ latest bulletin with their call to action.

 

 

Published in VFBV News

VFBV MEDIA RELEASE - 9 June 2015

CFA Volunteers are watching with considerable interest as the Queensland Parliament begins the process to enact a law which gives all firefighters in Queensland - paid and volunteer - fairer cancer compensation rights.

Presumptive legislation now being enacted in most States except Victoria, works by reversing the onus of proof; the firefighter’s cancer would be presumed to be work related provided the firefighter has sufficient years of service. The claim could still be rejected if it could be proven the cancer was not related to firefighting duties.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria CEO Andrew Ford said the legislation is not about a new entitlement, it is about removing an unfair barrier that blocks sick firefighters from receiving the cancer compensation to which they are entitled.

“It’s just a reversal of the onus of proof. Until now, Queensland firefighters have faced the same unfair barrier as Victorian firefighters; the near impossible task of providing sufficient evidence to prove the cause of the cancer arose from particular fires, incidents or other work duties - events that might have happened 10, 15 or more years ago,” Mr Ford said.

“The Queensland presumptive legislation is the fairer and simpler cancer compensation law that Victoria’s CFA volunteers have been promised, and are still waiting to see,” he said.

“Queensland is joining South Australia, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania, in moving to take away the unfair barrier that stops firefighters from accessing compensation when they suffer typical firefighter cancers,” he said.

The Bill now before the Queensland Parliament specifically provides that there will be no discrimination between paid and volunteer firefighters, under the new cancer compensation rights. The Queensland Bill lists the same 12 cancers and minimum lengths of service required to qualify as are standard under the laws adopted by the Commonwealth and most Australian States and Territories, but not Victoria as yet.

The Queensland Bill is what the current Victorian Labor Government promised Victorian firefighters in the lead up to the last election – it uses the same list of 12 cancers and the same years of service requirements as the current law in Tasmania, but without any additional eligibility hurdles that discriminate against volunteers.

“Current Tasmanian law includes additional discriminatory requirements that must be met by their volunteer firefighters, but thankfully these were not part of Victorian Labor’s commitment to CFA volunteers,” Mr Ford said.

“South Australia had similar discriminatory requirements in their original legislation but have now deleted them and given volunteers the same eligibility requirements as the paid firefighters who work alongside them,” he said.

“We are hopeful that the Victorian Government will be in a position to announce details to support their promise at last year’s election, in the very near future,” Mr Ford said.

CFA volunteers who have contracted cancer currently face the difficulty that as volunteers they have no firefighter sick leave or superannuation to fall back on. Victorian law leaves all firefighters, career and volunteer alike, battling red tape and sometimes a long legal battle just to get a fair hearing, whilst they are forced to prove which fires or incidents might have caused their cancer.

It is nearly impossible to meet the standard of proof required by current Victorian law, just as it was under the laws that other States have replaced with fairer presumptive legislation for firefighters with cancer.

“After years of procrastination by the previous Victorian Government on presumptive cancer compensation rights for Victorian volunteer and career firefighters, Labor promised presumptive legislation just like the law that Queensland is now enacting,” Mr Ford said.

“For our CFA volunteer members suffering from work related cancer, the implementation of this Labor promise can’t come fast enough,” he said.

Ends…

Published in VFBV News
CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.

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