Friday, July 13, 2012

The State Government Should Act to Compensate Firefighters

In the wake of revelations of the use of cancer-causing chemicals at the major fire training facility at Fiskville, it is time for the Baillieu Government to bring state legislation into line with federal law, accepting the occupational risks of cancer in firefighting.

The Senate had an inquiry last year into the link between the occupation of firefighting and occupational cancer. It was an extensive inquiry that called evidence from international experts, and visited a number of fire stations, including the CFA station at Geelong, and concluded there is a direct link between the occupation of firefighting and the incidence of cancers as a result of that exposure over a period of time.

The Senate report's recommendations were unanimously accepted by Federal Parliament and by all political parties, with a recommendation they be replicated in various state jurisdictions. The Fiskville scandal makes clear that now is the right time to align state law, as a remedy has already been identified as to how to deal with the link between occupational cancer and firefighting through legislation - it's a simple amendment to the current worker's compensation act. The work's already been done - all the Baillieu Government needs to do is replicate what's been done on a Federal level.

Peter Marshall from the United Firefighter’s Union points out the clear division that has now resulted between the way 'Federal' firefighters are treated when reporting with cancer, and where Victoria’s thousands of CFA firefighters find themselves. This needs to be urgently rectified by the Baillieu Government by bringing Victoria into line with Federal law.

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