SkyNews is reporting that seven South Australian firefighters have been injured in the course of their duties dealing with the current fire emergency (‘Firefighters injured fighting SA bushfire’ SkyNews Online, 3 January 2015), Our thoughts are with those firefighters but it is reassuring to know that South Australia has arrangements in place to provide the equivalent of workers compensation for injured volunteer firefighters.
The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986 (SA) s 103A provides that the government of South Australia is the presumed employer of some ‘prescribed’ volunteers and that they are, therefore, entitled to workers compensation. The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Regulations 2010 (SA) Reg 17 says that, for the purposes of s 103A, volunteer firefighters, that is a member of the Country Fire Service, are deemed employees of the State. As a deemed employee the volunteer is entitled to weekly payments based on the wages or income they would earn if they were self employed or employed. If the volunteer was not employed compensation is based on what they ‘would have received if he or she had been working in employment for which he or she was reasonably fitted’ (s 103A(2)(b)(ii)).
Ian Mannix from the ABC has ‘tweeted’
SA has community fund for CFS volunteers who lose their lives, or are injured or lost their homes. Donate http://www.cfsfoundation.org.au “
According to the CFS Foundation web site, the Foundation:
… provides vital financial support for the brave volunteer firefighters of the CFS, and their families, should they come to harm in the line of duty.
The Foundation provides support with:
Support for CFS volunteers and their famlly through providing emergency transport from the ‘line of fire’, day-to-day living expenses for family members, and assistance so the volunteer can return to active service within the CFS.
To assist in life needs by providing specialised equipment to support; communications, home and transport modification and vocational retraining.
Fallen in Action
At the passing of a CFS volunteer in the line of duty, help with funeral costs, support and financial counselling to the partners, and education assistance to their dependents.
CFS Volunteer Fund
A financial resource for families of volunteers who are severely injured or killed whilst performing their duties, will be developed through a corpus to be held in trust.
Presumably the Foundation perceives that such needs are not sufficiently met by workers compensation scheme so this scheme is intended to ‘top up’ the benefits provided by the State (House Of Assembly, Estimates Committee B, Thursday 21 June 2012, p 123, the Hon. J.M. Rankine, Minister for Police, Emergency Services, Multicultural Affairs, Correctional Services and Road Safety).