28May2024

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Presumptive Legislation Update

For several years now VFBV has been active in calling for support for the expansion of Victoria’s Presumptive Legislation scheme. We have campaigned strongly for female reproductive cancers to be added to Victoria’s presumptive legislation, championed by former MP Tania Maxwell through her private members Bill in May of last year, and further expansion following the Commonwealth Governments expansion of the federal scheme in December of last year.

In June of this year, the Minister for Emergency Services the Hon. Jaclyn Symes announced her intent to expand Victoria’s scheme to include the three female reproductive cancers. The VFBV Board formally commended this announcement and acknowledged the Minister’s personal contribution and advocacy in pursuing these changes.

The Government formally introduced legislation to expand Victoria's presumptive legislation on the 15th August 2023, through an omnibus bill called the "Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2023." This bill makes changes to a number of bills relating to Courts, Coroners Act, and the Children, Youth and Families Act while also amending the Firefighters' Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment (Reform) Act 2019 which deal with presumptive legislation.

In addition to primary site cervical, ovarian and uterine cancer, VFBV has been pursuing the further expansion of the scheme to pick up the remaining six cancers that were added to the Commonwealth’s scheme being primary site lung, skin, penile, pancreatic and thyroid cancers and malignant mesothelioma.

VFBV has called on the Victorian Government to align its scheme to ensure Victorian firefighters enjoy the same protections and support as their federal counterparts, noting that the Tasmania and Western Australian Governments have also announced they are adding the additional cancers to their own schemes. 

Acknowledging the similarity of exposure to hazards by all firefighters and given how frequently Victorian firefighters assist their interstate colleagues, it is VFBV’s desire for the prescribed cancers covered under presumptive legislation to be as uniform as possible across Australia.

VFBV supports any efforts to expand Victoria’s presumptive legislation scheme to include these additional cancers.

*** UPDATED 5th October 2023 ***

The "Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2023" was passed by the lower house on the 31st August 2023. It entered the Upper House on the same day as a first reading. During the upper house passage, the Greens Party introduced an amendment to the Bill that sought to expand the list of cancers to pick up the three cancers the Victorian Government had agreed to add, as well as the remaining six cancers that were added to the Commonwealth scheme last year. VFBV supported this amendment.

Denate resumed on the Bill on the 3rd October 2023, and the Bill and associated amendments went to a vote on the 3rd October.

The ten MP's who supported the Greens amendments to expand presumptive legislation elements of the Bill were:

  • Samantha Ratnam MP (Greens)
  • Katherine Copsey MP (Greens)
  • Sarah Mansfield MP (Greens)
  • Aiv Puglielli MP (Greens)
  • Jeff Bourman MP (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party Victoria)
  • Moria Deeming MP (Independent)
  • David Limbrick MP (Libertarian Party)
  • Rachel Payne MP (Legalise Cannabis Victoria)
  • Georgie Purcell MP (Animal Justice Party)
  • Rickie-Lee Tyrrell MP (Pauline Hanson's One Nation)

VFBV thanks these MP's for their support.

Unfortunately - Labor, Liberal and National Party MP's voted against the amendments, meaning there were 24 votes against. As a result, the Bill was passed without amendment.

While VFBV welcomes the additions of the three female reproductive cancers, we are continuing to urge and encourage all political parties to support the expansion of Victoria’s firefighter presumptive legislation scheme. The Greens have their own private members bill that will seek to expand the scheme to full list of 21 cancers that we are seeking support for.

With passage of the Justice Amendment Bill, Victorian firefighters will only be protected by presumption for 15 cancers (up from 12), with the Commonwealth government now recognising 20. Western Australia and the ACT have already introduced legislation to expand their schemes to 20, and Tasmania will be the first State to recognise 21. 

Members are reminded to please write, call and ask your local member of parliament where they stand on expanding Victoria’s presumptive legislation. A key way politicians can support their volunteer firefighters is to ensure that when they fall sick from the countless chemicals and hazards we face on our firegrounds, they are protected by presumptive legislation. Ask your local MP where they stand on the full expansion of Victoria's presumptive legislation.

VFBV has prepared a national table to assist members understand what cancers are covered by which State's, and to help members advocate for Victorian firefighters not to be left behind. You can download the table from the bottom of this page.

 

*** UPDATED 7th November 2023 ***

The Tasmanian Government have passed their expansion of Tasmania's Presumptive Legislation, with Royal Assent granted on Tuesday 7th November 2023.

Tasmanian firefighters (both volunteer and career) now enjoy Australia's strongest presumptive rights scheme in the country, covering firefighter's for 21 cancers scientifically linked to be caused by exposures involved in firefighting.

In Victoria, Victorian firefighters are only protected by presumption for 15 cancers, compared to 21 cancers in Tasmanian, and 20 cancers in Western Australia, the ACT and federally employed firefighters such as aviation. 

The Greens have introduced a private members bill to expand Victoria's scheme to the full 21 cancers. Volunteers are reminded to ask their local MP whether they support Victorian firefighters by supporting the Greens private member's bill and asking them how they will vote.

 

***UPDATED 1st March 2024***

QLD is the latest State to expand its firefighter presumptive legislation scheme to pick up the additional cancers added to the Commonwealth scheme in 2022. This now aligns QLD, TAS, WA, NT and ACT, leaving Victoria falling further behind.

VFBV continues pursuing further expansion of the scheme to pick up the remaining six cancers that were added to the Commonwealth’s scheme being primary site lung, skin, penile, pancreatic and thyroid cancers and malignant mesothelioma. 

 

Read 4330 times Last modified on Friday, 08 March 2024 17:15
CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.

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