This edition was issued on 8 March 2023
This edition focuses on the Commission’s two-year anniversary, the piloting of a Service NSW site in Dubbo for virtual proceedings, an update on the development of Pathway - our single digital platform, an update from the Rule Committee, the publication of the Amending Regulation, Guidelines and Indexation Order, the introduction of SMS reminders for medical appointments, as well as our Workers Compensation Division being nominated for a prestigious industry award.
I will be in touch with another edition of Personal Injury Commission News soon.
The Commission's Two-Year Anniversary Celebrations
On Wednesday last week, the Commission held an event in Sydney for our two-year anniversary, with special guest speakers the Hon Victor Dominello MP, Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government; Minister for Small Business; Minister for Fair Trading as well as Anne Britton, Chair of the Council of Australasian Tribunals.
We took time to reflect on this key milestone and what has been achieved since our establishment on 1 March 2021.
Our staff, Members, Medical Assessors, Mediators and Merit Reviewers attended and our President Judge Phillips, and Principal Registrar, Marianne Christmann were able to thank them in person for all their hard work, dedication and focus over the past two years.
L-R: Anne Britton, Chair of the Council of Australasian Tribunals, Judge Phillips, President of the Personal Injury Commission, the Hon. Victor Dominello MP, Marianne Christmann, Principal Registrar, Personal Injury Commission and Commission staff, Members, Medical Assessors and guests.
The Commission’s Approach to Venues to Conduct Dispute Resolution Events
The Personal Injury Commission conducts its dispute resolution events through a mix of venues in NSW. Events can be held in person at our 1 Oxford Street hearing rooms or regionally, entirely virtually via Microsoft Teams, or a mix of both (hybrid). Our 1 Oxford Street hearing rooms have the latest technology to support digital participation.
The Commission’s venues, digital capability, and the ability to conduct events using different methods will ensure accessibility, regardless of where a participant is based. It will also reduce process trauma for injured claimants and workers and reduce the costs to parties in line with the objects of the Personal Injury Commission Act 2020.
Dispute Resolution Events in the Regions
For appropriate dispute types, such as complex matters or hearings with witnesses, events will be held entirely in person in a regional venue. The Commission is in the process of identifying appropriate venues in regional centres to conduct in-person dispute resolution events. The first site is Newcastle with a view to creating a small network of venues across NSW for in-person events. The Commission will always conduct in-person dispute resolution events in regional New South Wales where appropriate to ensure accessibility to its users.
Piloting a Service NSW Site in Dubbo for Online and Hybrid Hearings
The Dubbo hybrid venue is a private room in the Service NSW Centre, which enables injured claimants/workers and other tribunal users (witnesses, legal representatives etc.) in regional areas to attend the Commission’s dispute resolution events virtually. This will enable event participants in regional areas to attend dispute resolution events occurring at the Commission’s 1 Oxford Street premises or wholly virtually, from anywhere without having to travel far. The room has the latest technology and is sound proofed for privacy.
Subject to the successful completion of the pilot, the Commission is looking to set up other sites in Service NSW Centres in the regions to promote accessibility and efficient dispute resolution services to all tribunal users to ensure the integrity of the Commission’s dispute resolution events.
The Dubbo Service NSW Centre is being piloted as a hybrid venue.
Update on the Commission’s Single Digital Platform
Development of the Commission’s new single digital platform called ‘Pathway’ is progressing well, with the initial build of the Motor Accidents functionality well advanced and comprehensive testing underway.
Representatives of each Motor Accidents Division cohort, including law firms and CTP insurers, have been actively engaged across the development process, participating most recently in showcases of the functionality and in User Acceptance Testing (UAT) activities.
Insurer and legal representative feedback from both the showcases and the testing has been very positive, with users noting that the platform seems simpler, more user friendly and an improvement on the system that is currently in place. People who had hands-on interaction with the Pathway Portal at UAT said:
“It’s a pretty good, user-friendly portal and an improvement on what is there now. Seeing everything on the portal is so much easier.”
“I like how everything is consolidated in the new portal. I can see everything I need to.”
“The portal looks pretty good and user friendly and I am so looking forward to using it. The best feature is the visibility of matters.”
“The way the information is presented on the portal is good.”
“The platform is good and pretty user friendly. Having motor accidents and workers compensation matters in the same place when the system is fully rolled out will be great.”
“I have a positive feeling about the new platform.”
The launch date for the Motor Accidents platform is now anticipated to be in late May/June due to additional development that was required to incorporate recent legislation changes and stakeholder feedback. We expect that Pathway will go live for Workers Compensation Division users several months after the Motor Accidents launch.
We are committed to ensuring that the Pathway platform meets the needs of all Commission users, decision makers and staff and will continue engaging you and providing progress updates as development continues.
Update from the Personal Injury Commission Rule Committee
The Personal Injury Commission Rule Committee convened in late February to discuss Rule Committee Resolution #2 of 2022. In particular, the Rule Committee discussed options to address the Document Limitation proposal and Additional Document proposal, together with stakeholder feedback received. See also PIC News Edition 43.
In addressing these matters, the Rule Committee confirmed that it does not propose to restrict or exclude material which is relevant to the real issues in dispute as contemplated by ss 3 and 42 of the Personal Injury Commission Act 2020.
The Rule Committee also confirmed that if it makes any rule changes in response to the Document Limitation proposal, to address the lodging of irrelevant and duplicated documents, it proposes that the following types of proceedings would not be affected:
Motor Accidents proceedings
- Merit review proceedings
- Merit review panel proceedings
- Medical review panel proceedings
- Presidential proceedings
- Work Injury Damages related proceedings
- Expedited assessment proceedings
- Medical appeal panel proceedings
The Rule Committee will convene again in mid-March 2023 to further discuss options to address the Document Limitation proposal and Additional Document proposal.
We will provide more information after the Rule Committee’s further deliberations.
Publication of the Amending Regulation, Guidelines and Indexation Order
Motor Accident Injuries (Claim for Statutory Benefits) Regulation 2023
Changes to the Motor Accident Injuries Regulation 2017 have been made and published on the NSW Legislation website on 2 March 2023.
This Regulation commences as follows:
a. for Schedule 2—the Schedule is taken to have commenced on 28 November 2022 (A minor amendment made to Schedule 4 to the Act to remove ‘claims assessor’ and insert ‘the Commission’).
b. otherwise—on the day the Regulation is published on the NSW Legislation website (2 March 2023).
Clause 8A Time for making claims (section 6.13(2))
- For the Act, section 6.13(2), payment of weekly payments of statutory benefits for a period before a claim is made is permitted if:
(a) the claim is made within 3 months after the date of the motor accident to which the claim relates, and
(b) the claimant provides a full and satisfactory explanation for the delay in making the claim.
- The matters that must be taken into account in determining whether the claimant has a full and satisfactory explanation for the delay in making the claim include, but are not limited to, whether, before the expiry of the period of 28 days for making the claim:
(a) the claimant was aware of the right to make the claim, or
(b) the claimant was a person under a legal incapacity, or
(c) the claimant was prevented from making the claim before the expiry of that period because of illness or injury.
- An explanation for the delay in making a claim is taken to be a full and satisfactory explanation for the purposes of subclause (1)(b) if the insurer has not rejected the explanation within 14 days after receiving the explanation.
- This clause does not apply to a motor accident occurring before 1 April 2023.
Note that the clause does not apply to motor accidents occurring before 1 April 2023.
The Motor Accident Guidelines version 9.1 are now published and will take effect from 1 April 2023.
Version 9.1 of the Guidelines incorporates minor changes to support the implementation of the recent legislative changes, including:
- The term ‘minor injury’ being replaced with ‘threshold injury’
- Changes reflecting the extension of statutory benefits from 26 weeks to 52 weeks for some cohorts
Motor Accident Injuries (Indexation) Amendment Order 2023
The indexation of the weekly statutory benefits payable to an injured person in a motor accident for 1 April 2023 has now been completed.
From 1 April 2023, the indexation factor to vary weekly statutory benefits is 1.0134.
The Motor Accident Injuries (Indexation) Amendment Order 2023 has been published on the NSW Legislation website.
SMS Reminders for Medical Appointments
For the convenience of tribunal users, the Commission will begin sending SMS reminders to claimants/workers attending medical assessments, in a move we hope will also help to improve attendance rates.
The initiative will be rolled out in March 2023 to claimants/workers who have appointments scheduled at the Commission’s Medical Suites at 1 Oxford St, Darlinghurst.
Following this we will look to implement stage two of this initiative, which will involve SMS reminders being sent for all Medical Assessments for both Motor Accidents and Workers Compensation matters, irrespective of their location, shortly thereafter.
We will trial this for a period of three-six months to test its effectiveness as another tool for the Commission to increase attendance rates at medical assessments.
How will it work?
Claimants/workers will receive the first reminder ten days before their appointment initially, and then a second reminder three days out.
We are optimistic that this will go a long way towards enhancing the user experience for our tribunal users.
The Commission’s Workers Compensation Division Nominated for an Australian ADR Award
Our Workers Compensation Division is a finalist in the Australian ADR Awards, which celebrates excellence in alternative dispute resolution. The awards will be conferred at a gala event at the Art Gallery of NSW on 31 March 2023.
The team was recognised for its work relating to the education it offers to legal representatives, Members and Mediators, as well as their hybrid processes, all resulting in injured workers enjoying a more streamlined service and overall, a better experience.
Well done to the Members and Mediators in the Workers Compensation Division, and a special thank you to the staff in the various directorates who have contributed to the achievements over the past 12 months.
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