Making a claim for workers' compensation
If you have a work-related injury or illness, you may be eligible to receive compensation or other entitlements under the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 (Seafarers Act).
Coverage by the Seacare scheme
Certain employees in the maritime industry are covered for workers’ compensation and rehabilitation arrangements under the Seafarers Act.
See Who is covered for more information on coverage.
Injury or illness from work
The Seafarers Act covers injury and illness which is work-related. This means you can claim compensation if you believe your injury or illness occurred at work or was materially contributed to, or aggravated by, your work.
In general, you can make a claim for workers’ compensation if your injury or illness occurred:
- while you were on board a vessel on which you were employed
- while you were temporarily absent from that vessel on an ordinary break in your employment
- while you were travelling between your place of residence and workplace, or
- while undergoing a required course of training.
Making a claim for workers’ compensation
If you have experienced an injury or illness from work, there are steps you need to follow.
1. Notify your employer
If you are injured at work or contract a work-related illness, you must notify your employer in writing as soon as possible after becoming aware of the injury, illness, loss or damage.
If your employer does not have an incident report form, you can provide written notice by letter or email.
You may notify your employer through the ship’s master.
Notifying your employer is important, as early notification leads to better injury and return to work outcomes.
2. Seek treatment and obtain a medical certificate
You should seek medical attention from a medical practitioner as soon as possible after experiencing an accident, injury or illness arising out of, or during, employment.
For an employer to consider a claim for workers’ compensation, a medical certificate from a legally qualified medical practitioner is required.
You have the right to select your own legally qualified medical practitioner, who can be a general practitioner or a specialist, such as a surgeon, psychiatrist or a dentist.
The medical practitioner will need to complete a medical certificate which includes:
- a diagnosis of the injury or condition for which you are claiming workers' compensation
- the cause of the injury or condition and whether the medical practitioner considers the injury to be consistent with the stated cause
- details of your fitness for work, including any restrictions
- any knowledge of the workplace which may affect your return to work
- whether your medical practitioner and employer have discussed tasks that might be suitable
- recommended treatment
- any recommended referrals
- the date for the next assessment
- other details as required.
3. Submit a workers' compensation claim form
To make a claim for workers’ compensation, you need to complete a claim form and lodge it with your employer as soon as practicable after experiencing or becoming aware of the injury or illness arising out of, or during, employment.
An accepted claim for workers’ compensation is required before you can apply for other entitlements and supports.
Submit to your employer:
- a completed Seacare Authority Claim for Workers’ Compensation form
- a medical certificate from a legally qualified medical practitioner
- if you are claiming against multiple employers, a notice setting out the details of the other employers against whom you are also making a claim.
Download the Claim for Workers’ Compensation form (PDF, 190.2 KB) from the Seacare Authority.
You can also obtain a Claim for Workers’ Compensation form from your employer, on board or on shore, or your union.
If you are having difficulties completing the claim form, you should seek assistance from your employer in the first instance, or from the Seacare Helpdesk – email email@example.com or phone us on (02) 6275 0070.
You should keep copies of any forms and information submitted as part of your claim.
When you submit a claim, your employer should acknowledge that they have received the claim.
Determining your claim
How a decision is made
In the Seacare scheme, your employer is responsible for determining your claim for workers’ compensation and deciding whether the claim should be accepted.
Employers can, and often do, delegate this power to a claims manager. Any action made on a claim by a delegated person is considered to be an action by the employer.
After receiving your claim, your employer must decide:
- whether you have suffered an injury or illness
- if so, whether your injury or illness was caused by or materially contributed to by your employment.
While a medical certificate is required to lodge a claim, the decision as to whether an injury or illness is compensable rests with the employer and not the medical practitioner.
To correctly make a decision, your employer may need further information. Accordingly, your employer is entitled to:
- ask you to provide any additional information or documents you may possess that are relevant to your claim
- require you to undertake a medical examination (an employer however is responsible for the costs associated with a medical examination, including reasonable travel).
Employers in the Seacare scheme are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. This means that the insurance company may be involved in deciding and managing your claim for workers’ compensation.
Time limits for decisions
Time limit for workers’ compensation claims
Your employer must decide your claim for workers’ compensation within the following time limits, unless the time limit has been extended.
- within 12 days for claims relating to incapacity for work
- within 30 days for claims for permanent impairment
- within 60 days for claims relating to a work-related death.
Extension of time
The time limit is automatically extended when your employer notifies you in writing, before the time limit is reached, that further information or a document is required to make a determination. Examples of further information include medical certificates and witness statements.
Your employer may also request an extension of time from the Seacare Authority when they require more time to make a decision. This request must be made before the time limit expires. An extension of time can help ensure relevant factors relating to a claim are fully considered, which can reduce unnecessary disputes following the decision.
If the Seacare Authority denies this request for an extension, the employer may seek a review of this decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
Notification of the decision
Once your employer has determined the claim, they must notify you of the decision.
Your employer must provide you with:
- a notice in writing setting out the terms of the decision
- the reasons for the decision
- a statement indicating that you can request a reconsideration of the decision.
When a decision is not made within the time limit
If your employer has not made a determination regarding your claim within the time limit, and there is no extension of time, your claim is taken to have been rejected.
Your employer should provide you with a notice setting out the outcome of the claim.
You may request a reconsideration of the decision. A request for reconsideration must be made within 30 days of being notified of the outcome.
If your employer no longer exists
If your employer has gone out of business or no longer operates and there is no insurance cover for your claim, the Seafarers Safety Net Fund will take the place of your employer.
In these circumstances, all information should be provided to the Seafarers Safety Net Fund, care of the Seacare Authority, which will take on your employer’s role and responsibilities to decide and manage your claim.
To make a claim on the Seafarers Safety Net Fund:
- Complete a Claim for Workers' Compensation form (PDF, 190.2 KB). This form is also available from the Seacare Authority by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning (02) 6275 0070.
- Submit the completed from to the Seacare Authority, GPO Box 9905, Canberra ACT 2601.
Entitlements and support
If your claim for workers’ compensation is accepted, you may be eligible for support and financial assistance. Most supports and assistance require a separate application.
Support and financial assistance may include:
- income support, known as incapacity payments for loss of earnings
- medical treatment
- attendant care services
- household services
- aids, appliances and modifications
- travel expenses
- property loss or damage
- permanent impairment and non-economic loss
- work-related death benefits, including funeral expenses.
Alternatives to workers’ compensation
One alternative to making a workers’ compensation claim is to take common law action. This is the process of suing an employer for damages in relation to your work-related injury or illness.
In the Seacare scheme, you may only take common law action against your employer where a permanent impairment benefit is payable. That is, in circumstances where you are assessed as having a whole person impairment of 10 per cent or more.
If you decide to take this option, the decision is irrevocable. That is, once you notify your employer in writing of your decision to take common law action you cannot claim any further compensation under the Seafarers Act. The maximum amount of damages that can be awarded to you from a common law action is $138,570.52.
For more information, see Claims Management Best Practice guide (PDF, 489.8 KB).
The information above is provided as a guide only and is not legal advice. The final decision on any claim you submit is made in accordance with the Seafarers Act taking into account your individual circumstances.