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RFSA supports presumptive legislation for firefighters

Tuesday, 25 September 2018


The Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) supports the cancer compensation legislation which will be tabled in State Parliament this week.


The proposed legislation can finally put an end to firefighters having to go to excessive lengths to prove a direct cause of the disease.


The draft law was written in consultation with paid and volunteer firefighters and will cover 12 cancers.


A number of studies have proven that firefighters are at much greater risk of developing certain cancers as a result of being exposed to hazardous substances due to the nature of their work.


Deeming specific cancers to be work-related reverses the burden of proof so that it would be necessary to prove that a fire fighter’s cancer is not work related in determining whether or not the claim is accepted.


An example of one cancer included in the proposed legislation is Primary Site Brain Cancer — with firefighters having to have been in their role for five years before the legislation would become applicable.


Other cancers include breast cancer, testicular cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, myeloma, prostate cancer, ureter cancer, colorectal cancer and oesophageal cancer


RFSA President Ken Middleton said that while the presumptive legislation had been successfully introduced in other states, NSW is one of the last states to cut the red tape.


“It is frustrating that NSW lags behind the rest of the country in bringing in legislation to support the welfare of hardworking volunteers,” said Mr Middleton.


“Firefighters frequently risk their lives to protect our communities from harm. It is therefore paramount to ensure the same protections are reciprocated.


“The RFSA is committed to supporting and looking after our volunteer firefighters, especially following the turbulent period which follows a diagnosis of cancer.


“We welcome the added legislative protection for our volunteers and families, and in fact all firefighters.


“This will deliver a fair go for our firies,” Mr Middleton said.


A paid or volunteer firefighter diagnosed with one or more of the 12 listed cancers would automatically have their disease presumed to be caused by occupational hazards while firefighting, according to the qualifying period outlined in the table below.