The Andrews Labor Government will deliver long-awaited presumptive rights to cancer compensation for both career and volunteer firefighters.
Medical and scientific studies link the use of certain chemicals in firefighting to cancer, but under current compensation laws, the onus sits with firefighters to prove that link.
That onus is unscientific, unreasonable and unfair – and these changes will eliminate it.
Career and volunteer firefighters put their lives at risk to protect Victorians and keep our community safe – they shouldn’t have to then fight to prove the clear medical link between cancer and firefighting.
The Government will introduce legislation which recognises the challenges that firefighters have faced in accessing compensation for cancer and establishes a legal presumption that the cause of their cancer is firefighting.
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.
The presumption will apply for a 10 year post-service limit.
Rules that require volunteer firefighters to have attended a specific number of fires are problematic, so the scheme will instead be modelled on the scheme in 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.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“Firefighters risk their lives to keep us safe and they deserve our total support.”
“Our firefighters are community heroes – they shouldn’t have to fight 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.”
“This change is for our firefighters, but it’s also for their families and loved ones, who see and understand the additional trauma and pain that the current laws can create.”