The Insurance Commission of WA reports that mental-stress claims by public servants have increased by 40% in two years, contributing to more than $28 million in compensation claims being filed with the commission.
The ICWA’s annual report noted that 50% of mental-health claims in WA were lodged with public-sector agencies, despite its employees accounting for only 10% of the state’s workforce.
RiskCover, the WA government’s workers’ compensation scheme, logged $28.1 million in claims in 2017-18, up from $24 million the previous year and $20 million the year before that, The West Australian reported.
“The difference between the private and public sector is noteworthy and it would appear that public sector agencies and their staff across Australia still have more work to do to prevent incidents that give rise to mental-stress claims,” ICWA said in the report.
The majority of compensation claims were from women, with 278 claims, worth $18.5 million in total – that’s double the volume of claims lodged by men. Most claims were due to exposure to trauma, at 31%, or $8.8 million; while harassment accounted for 17%, or $4.7 million, of claims – 6% higher compared to 2016-17.
Rick Howe, ICWA deputy chief executive, said the high cost of claims was driven in part by the nature of government agencies, which included frontline services, such as police and emergency workers.
“Because we have either all or the majority of workers in that space, that’s one of the factors which drives this exposure,” Howe told The West Australian. “It’s an area we want to understand a bit better to see if we can find a way to drive a greater sense of resilience.”