Media Release

STATEMENT ON THE DUST DISEASES BOARD FROM THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, SERVICES AND INNOVATION

“The Liberal-National Government is committed to supporting and assisting workers who are suffering from asbestos-related diseases and their families.

“As part of the broader insurance reform package, the Dust Diseases Board will become the Dust Diseases Authority, with all existing functions, expertise and staff retained. The Board of the Dust Diseases Board, will become an Advisory Committee, providing expert advice to the new Insurance and Care entity.”

“There will be no changes to the level of compensation benefits received by victims, no changes to the application process and no changes to the assessment of claims. This is about making the process better and easier for workers affected by asbestos-related illnesses..”

“These changes mean that asbestos victims will have their claims processed faster, victims support groups will get a voice at the table for the first time and the important work of the Board in promoting research and community education will continue.”

“Many asbestos affected workers are critically ill and faster claim times are essential to ensuring they can access urgent medical treatment and obtain peace of mind that they and their families will be cared for.”

“Additionally, victims support groups and other key stakeholders, will have more of say on how asbestos victims are helped through membership of the advisory committee. Employer and employee representatives will always have an important role to play and  I welcome applications from current Board members to be part of the new Advisory Committee.

“These reforms are in the best interests of workers who are suffering from asbestos-related illnesses, their families and the people of NSW.”

Additional background:

  • The Board of the Dust Diseases Board will become an Advisory Committee, providing expert advice to the new Insurance and Care entity. It will include a diverse range of stakeholders including employer groups, employee groups, research groups and victim support bodies. Some of these stakeholders will have a voice on this important table for the first time.
  • Under the current system, victims often have to wait up to one month to have their claim approved by the Board after the Medical Authority has determined that they have a compensable dust disease. For people with a malignant dust disease (average lifespan of 12-18 months at reporting stage) this wait time makes an enormous difference.
  • Under the proposed reforms, once the Medical Authority has determined that the person has a compensable dust disease, their claims will be immediately processed saving up to one month in waiting times.
  • Annually the DDB makes around 290 awards for workers and 200 awards for the dependants of deceased workers.  Under the changes all of these people will get faster access to support from the Dust Diseases Authority as will the more than 5,000 people who have lodged claims with the DDB over the last decade. There will be no changes to the Medical Authority, the role of which remains the same. Benefits under the Dust Diseases Compensation Scheme will not change under the new structural arrangements.