Legislation > Box 2 – Row 1 > Supporting the mental health needs of first responders

Workers Compensation Amendment Act

The Workers Compensation Act gives all workers access to compensation for mental health issues caused by their work, including PTSD. However, it currently requires medical and/or scientific evidence to be provided to establish that their condition arose directly from their employment.

These changes allow first responders – firefighters, police, paramedics, sheriffs and correctional officers to have their illness, when diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist, accepted as a work-related reaction to one or more traumatic events based on the nature of their work, without the need to prove or provide evidence.

These changes are a first step towards providing more support to workers who are first on the scene at challenging and sometimes dangerous and traumatic situations. Government will consider, over time, expanding presumptions to other types of workers who experience traumatic events at work, as well as continuing to focus on overall workplace safety.

The amendments will also expand existing cancer presumptions to federal firefighters employed on military bases. Federal firefighters currently qualify for the heart disease and injury presumptions, but the cancer presumptions have been limited to local government firefighters. This change recognizes that firefighters from military bases may also be exposed to dangerous substances during structural fires, and frequently assist municipalities at off-base incidents.

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