25 June 2019

Victorian firefighters now have a presumptive right to compensation for cancer caused by their exposure to dangerous carcinogens, after legislation was passed last week. The Cancer Council’s Nicola Quin explained the problem in 2015: “Research suggests that firefighters owned an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers related to their work and exposure to carcinogens. However, because of the nature of firefighting, proving causation is difficult; exposure is difficult to measure due to multiple firefighting events and uncertainty about the level and the intensity of carcinogens present. Because of the difficulties in proving causation, firefighters were rarely really successful in claiming compensation under the general compensation provisions.” The new scheme bypasses this problem — firefighters who can prove they have certain types of cancer and a qualifying period of service (depending on the type of cancer) will be automatically entitled to compensation. The new scheme covers both professional and volunteer firefighters.