By April Murphy
Support and compensation are now more accessible for first responders who have PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Last week, Queensland Government passed changes to workers compensation laws meaning that first responders’ diagnosed PTSD claims will be deemed work-related. 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. These changes provide 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.
The changes are also a win for the families of first responders, whose rate of mental health conditions is ten times higher than the Australian workforce generally.
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 specific 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 mines rescue teams
.Departmental employees who are exposed to 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 is said that 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,” says Ms Grace.