The RFBAQ General Meeting has passed a resolution that PTSD support and compensation should be extended to all firefighters equally
Monday, 27 May 2019
Just as Presumptive Legislation in Queensland reverses the onus of proof and applies equally to full time, part time and volunteer firefighters, the elected brigade representatives voted to request QFES to have PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) added to the Workers Compensation Legislation.
Claiming workers compensation can be a daunting, challenging or stressful process, particularly if the claim is mental health related.
PTSD is a particularly complex condition to diagnose, especially where it is a result of cumulative exposure to incidents over perhaps decades and often is not a result of one single incident or event, which can be the case for emergency service personnel and first responders, including volunteer firefighters.
Rural Fire Brigade volunteers are community members who respond to their community needs. From house fires, car accidents, cyclones, floods, missing persons searches, bushfires and multiple other incidents; brigade volunteers are exposed to stresses higher than those of an average community member.
It is difficult for anyone to navigate the workers compensation process to have a PTSD claim approved. A legislative presumption, similar to the Firefighter cancer presumption, will go a long way in helping to reduce the stigma that is often associated with mental health.
This stigma can impact on the decisions of workers to disclose their symptoms leading to under-diagnosis of conditions such as PTSD, and results in sufferers not accessing the help and treatment that is available under the workers compensation scheme, once a claim is accepted.
A presumption for PTSD does not mean a new entitlement to compensation; the entitlement already exists.
A presumption just means that the process of making a claim and having a claim accepted is much easier.
A presumption for PTSD means that any claim by a relevant worker would be deemed work related for workers compensation purposes. An employer would still have the opportunity to rebut (dispute) the claim but it would be the employer who needs to prove on the balance of probabilities that the PTSD was caused by some other significant event, that is not work related.
The RFBAQ is working with the QFES on this important improvement for firefighter support and hope to see the current legislation improved as part of the 5 year review of Presumptive Legislation.
If you have read this article and it has made you feel anxious, upset or you want to talk to someone:
If you are a firefighter who has had a cancer diagnosis since 15th July 2015 please read about the 12 cancers that are deemed diseases.