Presumptive Rights Legislation
Share | Print

Presumptive Rights Legislation

Under the presumptive rights compensation scheme, a firefighter claiming compensation for certain cancers doesn’t have to prove that firefighting is the cause of their cancer. Instead it will be presumed that they contracted cancer because of their firefighting service and that they therefore have an entitlement to compensation under the WorkSafe scheme.

Firefighters that are diagnosed with one of 12 specified cancers and have served the requisite number of years (5-25 depending on cancer type) have a presumptive entitlement to compensation, unless WorkSafe can prove that the cancer did not arise from firefighting.
The introduction of presumptive rights legislation fulfils the Government’s election commitment to provide Victorian firefighters with greater certainty of their presumptive entitlement to compensation for specified forms of cancer.

What cancer types are covered under the presumptive rights compensation legislation?

The cancer types that are presumed to have arisen from firefighting, and the applicable qualifying period, are specified in the table below:

Disease Qualifying period
1. Primary site brain cancer 5 years
2. Primary site bladder cancer 15 years
3. Primary site kidney cancer 15 years
4. Primary non-Hodgkins lymphoma 15 years
5. Primary leukaemia 5 years
6. Primary site breast cancer 10 years
7. Primary site testicular cancer 10 years
8. Multiple myeloma 15 years
9. Primary site prostate cancer 15 years
10. Primary site ureter cancer 15 years
11. Primary site colorectal cancer 15 years
12. Primary site oesophageal cancer 25 years

What are the preconditions under the presumptive rights compensation legislation?

Under the presumptive rights compensation scheme, a firefighter claiming compensation for certain cancers doesn’t have to prove that firefighting is the cause of their cancer. Instead it will be presumed that they contracted cancer because of their firefighting service and that they therefore have an entitlement to compensation under the WorkSafe scheme.

Under the scheme the following criteria must be met:

  • diagnosis on or after 1 June 2016;
  • while the firefighter is serving or within 10 years after they last served as a firefighter;
  • service as a firefighter for at least the minimum listed number of years for the cancer in question; and
  • for volunteer firefighters, attendance at fires to the extent reasonably necessary to fulfil their duties as a firefighter.

The legislation establishes an advisory committee that provide an expert opinion to WorkSafe as to whether a volunteer firefighter has attended fires to the extent reasonably necessary to fulfil their duties as a firefighter.

As a volunteer firefighter how will the advisory committee determine if I have attended fires to the extent reasonably necessary to access presumptive rights compensation?

The advisory committee is there to ensure deserving volunteer firefighters do not miss out on the presumptive right to compensation. It will consider any relevant records, brigade records, CFA data, employer data and local knowledge, and any other relevant matters prescribed under regulations.

What if I do not reach the relevant qualifying period?

If you have not been a firefighter for the relevant qualifying period you may still be entitled to compensation under the legislation’s “special consideration” provisions if you can prove that you have personally had an exceptional exposure event in a firefighting capacity.

For the purposes of determining whether a firefighter has had an exceptional exposure event the following matters are to be considered:

  • the nature of event e.g. Prolonged period / exposure, single event;
  • relevant findings regarding the event from a coroner, court proceedings or other official inquiry regarding an event known to have exposed firefighters to carcinogens; and
  • any relevant records, brigade records, CFA data, employer data or local knowledge, and any other relevant matters prescribed under regulations.

In all applications for special consideration WorkSafe must seek advice from the advisory committee as to whether a firefighter has had an exceptional exposure event but is not required to make a determination consistent with that advice.

What if I cannot demonstrate I have had an exceptional exposure event?

If you cannot demonstrate that you have had an exceptional exposure event that does not mean you cannot access compensation. It means that your cancer will not be presumed to have arisen from your service as a firefighter. If this is the case, your claim will be assessed under the Firefighter Assessment Panel.

The Firefighter Assessment Panel is a process managed by WorkSafe with the support of CFA and comprises expert medical, technical and claims specialists to ensure prompt, compassionate and fair assessments for all firefighter cancer-related claims.

What if I have served as both a volunteer and career firefighter?

If you have served as both a career and volunteer firefighter your service can be combined to reach the qualifying period for the specified cancer type.

If you are both a career and volunteer firefighter concurrently, your service can only be counted once.

What if I have had a break in my firefighting service?

If you have had a break in your firefighting service, you are able to combine your periods of service to reach the qualifying period. Your periods of service do not need to be consecutive as multiple periods of service may be combined.

I am a volunteer firefighter, do I have access to presumptive rights compensation?

Yes. The Victorian Government has provided access to presumptive rights compensation for both volunteer and career firefighters.

I am a volunteer firefighter. Can I lodge a claim in respect of the same injury under both WorkCover (WIRC Act) and the Volunteer Compensation Scheme (CFA Regulations)?

No. You cannot lodge a claim with both WorkSafe and the Volunteer Compensation Scheme in respect of the same injury at the same time.

If your claim is rejected under either scheme, that does not prevent you from lodging it with the alternate compensation scheme. For example, if your presumptive entitlement claim is rejected by WorkSafe you may still make a claim for compensation under the Volunteer Compensation Scheme in respect of the same injury.

However, you will not be able to apply under the Volunteer Compensation Scheme if the WorkCover Authority has rebutted your presumptive entitlement, by proving that your cancer was not due to the nature of your service as a firefighter. Therefore, if the cancer is not service related you will not have an entitlement under the Volunteer Compensation Scheme.

What if I have a cancer that is not listed in the presumptive rights compensation legislation table?

If you have a cancer that is not listed in the table of presumed cancers you are still able to lodge a claim for compensation. Your injury will not be presumed to have arisen from your firefighting service. In these cases your claim will be assessed under the Firefighter Assessment Panel.

The Firefighters Assessment Panel is a process managed by WorkSafe with the support of CFA and comprises expert medical, technical and claims specialists to ensure prompt, compassionate and fair assessments for all firefighter cancer-related claims.

Is there a time limit on retired firefighters making a presumptive rights compensation claim?

Yes. If you are no longer a firefighter and you believe your cancer arose from your firefighting service you are entitled to make a claim for compensation within 10 years after you last served as a firefighter.

Back to top

Thanks for your feedback. If you have any ideas on how we can improve, we'd love to hear them.

Please provide your comments in the feedback form.

Back to top