This edition was issued on 29 January 2024
Happy new year! I hope you have started 2024 feeling rested and revitalised.
This year is already shaping up to be a busy one for the Commission and I expect the increase in filings that we saw in 2023, particularly in the Workers Compensation Division, will continue this year.
Included in this edition is the 500-page limit for filings to be introduced later this year following the deployment of Pathway for workers compensation matters. Our progress on Pathway is also outlined below.
We continue to ask all legal representatives to remind their clients about our decision publication policy and the de-identification and redaction of decisions.
There is also a reminder about Presidential appeals against interlocutory decisions.
I am delighted to announce that six new sessional members will commence duties in the Workers Compensation Division in the coming months.
We acknowledge the passing of Dr Michael Rochford, a senior medical assessor with the Commission. On behalf of the Commission, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
Finally, I recognise the achievement and extend my congratulations to Medical Assessor Adjunct Professor Robin Fitzsimons who has been awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
I will be in touch with another edition of the Personal Injury Commission News soon.
Judge Gerard Phillips
Work has commenced on the new rule which will guide the 500-page limit for all filings, to come into effect in the second half of 2024.
The 500-page limit is an important initiative that will directly benefit the injured people that we serve by increasing efficiencies in hearing matters, addressing cyber security risks and helping to protect the privacy of claimants.
It will also help us meet one of the guiding principles of the Personal Injury Commission Act 2020, where we should only be considering the real issues in dispute between the parties.
Legal representatives will still be able to make an application to submit further pages, however they will need to argue in a short online hearing how the additional material relates to the real issues in dispute.
We will provide more information on the 500-page limit rule as it takes shape and well before it is introduced, which will not be until after the implementation of Pathway for workers compensation matters.
Pathway for workers compensation
Work is progressing well on the development of the Commission’s single digital platform, Pathway, for workers compensation users. We anticipate that workers compensation users will transition to the platform mid-year.
This has been a key priority for the Commission since establishment and will mean all Commission staff, decision makers and parties will have a single place and a single way to engage in the dispute resolution process online. It will also provide greater cyber security protections and create greater efficiencies in workers compensation dispute resolution processes.
Commencing in February, the Commission will showcase the new platform to representatives of each stakeholder cohort in a series of demonstration sessions. Participants will have an opportunity to have a first look at the platform, view what has been built to date and provide feedback about the functionality.
As with the implementation of Pathway to motor accidents users, workers compensation users will be supported through the transition to Pathway with a comprehensive program of communication, education, training and post-launch assistance and reference materials.
We will provide further updates about the transition over the coming months.
Publication of decisions
As reported last year, we have updated the Commission’s Decision Publication Policy, and are now asking all legal representatives to ensure their clients are aware of their ability to apply to have their decisions de-identified or redacted at any time during Commission proceedings.
We are also making a number of internal process changes to ensure reminders are provided to claimants and their representatives at various stages across the dispute resolution lifecycle.
We hope to publish a factsheet on decision publication soon and will continue to educate and inform all of our stakeholders about the policy.
Interlocutory appeals: workers compensation
All legal representatives are reminded of the Presidential unit’s approach to interlocutory appeals. Appeals against a truly interlocutory decision of a member (as opposed to a decision that involves a final determination of rights) will be dealt with swiftly, usually by an oral hearing before a Presidential member.
This approach intends to address any delay to the substantive proceedings which are still on foot before a member but have been stayed by the filing of an interlocutory appeal.
As such, respondents may be directed to file their responses early, and parties are to be prepared to argue the question of leave under s 352(3A) of the 1998 Act.
It is intended that an ex-tempore decision disposing of the appeal will be delivered, or a written decision will be published soon after a matter is heard or submissions have been filed.
New sessional members for workers compensation
It is my great pleasure to announce that six new sessional members will soon be appointed to the Workers Compensation Division.
- Kathryn Camp
- Adam Halstead
- Sophie Jones
- Parnel McAdam
- Fiona Seaton
- Mitchell Strachan
They will be starting in their new roles in March and will be a great asset to the Commission as we continue to work through a steady increase in filings in the Workers Compensation Division.
I congratulate them on their appointments and look forward to their contribution to the Commission.
Vale Dr Michael Rochford
It is with great sadness that I learned of the recent passing of senior Medical Assessor Dr Michael Rochford, Urologist.
Assessor Rochford passed away on 14 January 2024.
Michael was a pioneer in urology and a mentor to many. He was a highly respected medical practitioner who had a long-standing relationship with the former Workers Compensation Commission and the former Dispute Resolution Service prior to the establishment of the Personal Injury Commission in 2021. Dr Rochford concluded his last matter with the Commission in April 2023.
Our sincerest condolences go out Michael’s family, friends and many work colleagues. He will be dearly missed by everyone.
Medical Assessor Adjunct Professor Robin Fitzsimons recognised with Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
I extend my congratulations to Medical Assessor Adjunct Professor Robin Fitzsimons who has been awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to tertiary education, to neurology, and to medical research.
This is a well-deserved honour for Assessor Fitzsimons who is a long-standing medical assessor with the Commission and the former Dispute Resolution Service and is a valued member of the Rule Committee. I look forward to congratulating Robin in person.
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