Government backs first responders in PTSD battle

Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing The Honourable Grace Grace

The Palaszczuk Government has made it easier and quicker for Queensland first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to access support and compensation.

Parliament today passed changes to workers compensation laws that mean that first responders’ diagnosed PTSD claims will be deemed work-related and they can get immediate treatment and benefits under the workers’ compensation scheme.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said that first responders were exposed daily to traumatic incidents that most people could never imagine and the changes provided a smoother pathway to compensation and support.

“This provides these workers with dignity when they most need it, overcomes barriers to making a claim, and provides a safety net for people who put their health at risk every day to help others,” Ms Grace said.

“This is also a win for the families of first responders, whose rate of mental health conditions is 10 times higher than the Australian workforce generally.

“We must do all we can to support those who support Queenslanders each and every day.”

The changes will apply to thousands of frontline first responders including:

  • police officers, ambulance officers and paramedics
  • firefighters including volunteers and rural fire brigade
  • State Emergency Service members
  • corrective service officers
  • authorised officers within child safety, youth justice staff members
  • doctors and nurses working in certain areas such as emergency and trauma care and acute care
  • local government and private sector workers performing the same roles, such as paramedics working in the not-for-profit sector or in mines rescue teams
  • departmental employees who are exposed traumatic incidents such as fire communications officers or emergency medical dispatchers.

“This legislation was introduced during the last parliament and we are honouring our commitment by making it law,” Ms Grace said.

“Under the new laws, it will be much easier for first responders to come forward and seek treatment and early intervention.

“It will also go a long way to reducing the stigma first responders have about the impact of a claim on their job prospects, or how they are perceived in their workplace.”

This builds on the Palaszczuk Government’s record of improving workers compensation for Queensland workers while maintaining the lowest average premium, including by:

  • restoring common law rights stripped away by the LNP Government
  • providing support for workers with occupational lung dust diseases like silicosis and coal workers’ pneumoconiosis
  • ensuring support services are available to workers suffering from psychological injuries while their compensation claim is being determined
  • extending workers’ compensation coverage to unpaid interns.

/Public Release. View in full here.