The 2012 amendments to the NSW Workers Compensation scheme significantly cut the entitlements to weekly benefits and medical expenses for most injured workers in NSW. The amendments however exempted “police officers, paramedics and firefighters” from being affected.
Mr Stockwell, a paramedic, injured his back while working as a frontline ambulance officer. As a result of that injury, he took a job as an Operations Centre Officer and carried on in this employment from 2001. In 2007, he sustained a psychological injury as a result of his work, and made a further workers compensation claim. The Service declined liability, but findings were made by the Workers Compensation Commission in 2008 that the injury was work related, and Mr Stockwell was entitled to compensation.
In March 2013, the insurer wrote to Mr Stockwell to tell him his weekly benefits were being cut off, on the basis that the 2012 amendments applied to his injury. Mr Stockwell contended that as a paramedic, he was exempt and the amendments did not apply.
The Service argued that Mr Stockwell was no longer certified to practice as a Paramedic under the 2006 Award as at the deemed date of injury in 2007, and was therefore not an exempt worker. The Service pursued the case all the way through the Workers Compensation Commission, onto Presidential appeal, and finally, to the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal confirmed the decisions of the WCC and President, finding that Mr Stockwell held the status of a paramedic as at the date of his injury, and he was therefore exempt from the 2012 amendments.