NSW Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet defended the government’s workers compensation scheme as unions plan a week of rallies opposing it.
The Unions NSW rallied kicked off in Wollongong on Monday, outside the Workcover office in Burelli Street.
The rallies are planned to highlight what the union claims are problems with the workers compensation scheme ahead of a NSW parliamentary inquiry, which starts on Friday.
At the rally, injured workers spoke of their frustration with a workers compensation system changed by the government in 2012.
They claimed they were being hounded by insurance companies so they would give up, thereby removing them from the books.
Injured Workers Support Network co-ordinator Rowan Kernebone said decisions about workers’ health was being made by people in offices rather than doctors.
“You’re a manila folder on some poor person’s desk who’s got to get results to meet their KPI and get their bonus at the end of the year,” Mr Kernebone said on Monday.
However, Mr Perrottet said the revamped system struck a balance between injured workers, their employers and the taxpayer.
“Unlike under Labor, we now have a workers compensation scheme that can actually afford to support injured workers without placing an unsustainable burden on employers through rising premiums, or an unfair burden on taxpayers,” Mr Perrottet said.
“This government will continue to put workers at the centre of our insurance reforms, as we pursue a range of programs to help injured workers get the right care and support, and get back to safe, sustainable employment wherever possible.”
Changes to the system have included the trialling of the Work Injury Screening and Intervention protocol, which aims to identify injured workers at risk of a secondary psychological injury to help them return to work.
There are also discounts on insurance premiums awarded to those employers with safe workplaces.
The government stated the aim was to encourage other businesses to follow suit.