The Victorian government has recently introduced a new arbitration service within the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (ACCS), to be rebranded as the Workplace Injury Commission beginning September 1, 2022.
In a statement, the ACCS confirmed it is in the final stages of delivering significant changes to the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Arbitration) Act 2021 to provide greater certainty for injured workers in Victoria.
Created in response to the Victorian Ombudsman’s recommendations, the new arbitration service aims to provide injured workers with an alternative dispute resolution to the court process, which is often costly, time-consuming, and complex. The ACCS expects the new service to expand its dispute resolution services to include arbitration that will complement its existing conciliation service.
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With its rebranding, the ACCS clarified that injured workers with matters that have not been resolved at conciliation may have their matters arbitrated by the Workplace Injury Commission. The commission will also have the authority to make determinations for the disputes, including compensation for weekly earnings, medical expenses, superannuation payments, or interests payable.
“If a matter is not resolved through conciliation, an injured worker has the option to take the matter to arbitration – which is a simpler, timelier, and more cost-effective alternative to court proceedings. Arbitration is available for certain disputes … where parties have not reached [an] agreement in conciliation and a genuine dispute certificate has been issued,” the ACCS said.
Additionally, hearings with an arbitration officer must occur within 30 days of the dispute being referred to the commission to ensure timely resolution.
The Victorian government’s introduction of the new arbitration service for workers’ compensation disputes follows the New South Wales (NSW) government’s amendment of the Motor Accidents and Workers’ Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 last month.