SISA met with the Hon. Frank Pangallo MLC with regard to the Return to Work (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) Amendment Bill 2019. The Bill lapsed in late 2019 when Parliament was prorogued. He has since re-introduced the Bill with minor changes as the Return to Work (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) Amendment Bill 2020.
The Bill would amend s.9 of the RTW Act to include a presumption of compensability where a 'first responder' is diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Bill as it stands appears to closely mirror a similar amendment that was passed in Tasmania in 2019.
SISA expressed concerns about the Bill in its current form. PTSD is obviously a very serious condition but it is one that has been misdiagnosed in the past, particularly by doctors with no specific expertise in what is a very complex field. We see it as a risk to those who are misdiagnosed and would receive treatment for PTSD when in fact they are suffering from a different psychiatric condition. If the Bill were to be progressed we would see it as very important that there be a requirement that any diagnosis of PTSD must be made or verified by a psychiatrist with experience in the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD.
We also commented that the definition of ‘first responder’ is not as clear as it needs to be if its scope is to be limited to first responders who are employees or presumptive employees of the Crown.
Our concerns were duly noted but are not reflected in the current version of the Bill..
Given the intended scope, the Crown will bear the exposure to this, and we expect that the Treasurer will be seeking advice in that respect. We do not have a clear indication of the Government's position on the Bill at this time.