The State Government has announced that a specialist panel will be created to consider claims for compensation from firefighters who have contracted cancer as a result of their employment.
The Panel, to be called the Firefighters Assessment Panel, will consist of various medical and technical experts, and will consider the connection between a firefighter's condition and their employment, as well as their entitlement to medical expenses and other compensation. It will be overseen by the Victorian WorkCover Authority, with assistance from the CFA.
The move is based on studies which have indicated that firefighters face increased risks of specific types of cancer, including leukaemia, brain, bladder, and testicular cancer, as a result of the use of particular chemicals whilst battling blazes.
In recognition of this, in 2011 the Federal Government introduced legislation removing the burden on firefighters to prove that various types of cancers were caused by their employment. Several states, including South Australia and Western Australia, have also introduced similar legislation to protect firefighters who are diagnosed with certain types of cancer.
The Victorian State Government has come under pressure to introduce similar legislative reforms to make compensation for firefighters more accessible. At this stage, there is no indication that the government will introduce laws similar to the federal protections.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with an illness or disease relating to their work, we invite you to contact our office on (03) 9321 9988 to speak with one of our injury experts.