The state government has announced a $550 million boost to the WorkCover scheme in a bid to keep premiums for businesses low.
In a statement published on Wednesday, Victoria’s workplace safety minister Ingrid Stitt said the government was doing everything it could to ensure safer workplaces and support injured workers.
“This investment means Victorian workers can be confident that they will get the help they need, when they need it – while making sure businesses are supported to keep their workers safe,” Stitt said.
The $550 million boost to the scheme comes on top of $350 million in premium relief and exemptions provided by government last year to businesses participating in the JobKeeper scheme.
As part of the state government measures the WorkCover average target premium will be maintained at 1.272% of remuneration for 2021-22.
According to the Victorian government, the WorkCover scheme has come under pressure in recent years with a ‘significant increase’ in the number of complex and costly claims.
Mental health related claims in particular have grown, and the impact on the scheme’s revenue sources – premium payments and investment returns – has taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While it’s positive to see that workers are putting their hand up to get the help they need – the government is acting now to ensure the scheme remains sustainable into the future,” the statement said.
“Given the growing awareness of workplace mental health and associated increase in mental health related claims, the government is also prioritising better prevention of workplace psychological injuries and early intervention when mental injury does occur.”
The government passed provisional payments laws in February to ensure that Victorian workers who needed treatment for work-related mental health injuries can access support while making a claim.
These changes to the WorkCover scheme go in hand with other mental health investment announced in the Victorian 2021-22 budget to ‘build a new mental health system from the ground up’ on the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.