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How is workers’ compensation organised in Australia?

In Australia, workers’ compensation is overseen by state and territory governments and by the federal government. 

There are eleven main workers’ compensation systems. Each state and territory runs its own system, covering the people who work in that state.

The federal government has three systems, covering employees of the federal government; defence personnel and veterans; and maritime workers. 

In each case, a government authority (known as a regulator) is responsible for overseeing the workers’ compensation system. 

In most cases, the government outsources the management of people’s compensation claims to insurers, also sometimes called ‘agents’. These insurers may be private companies but in some states they are operated by the government. 

Some large companies can choose to “self-insure”. This means they manage the compensation claims for their own employees, within the relevant laws of their state or territory. 

The Australian workers’ compensation systems have common objectives. They aim to support workers to return to work after work-related injury or illness, while also ensuring the system remains financially sustainable. 

Many of the benefits and services provided by these systems are very similar. 

However, it is important to note that there are also differences in the specifics. These differences cover important things such as:

  • What sorts of injuries and diseases are covered
  • The processes that are used to manage a worker’s claim 
  • How much financial support is provided to workers and for how long

If you have been injured or become ill at work, it is important to find information on the system that covers you.