TRANSPORT ACCIDENT FURTHER AMENDMENT BILL 2013
This Bill was introduced into the Victorian Legislative Assembly by the State Treasurer Michael O’Brien. I have edited the second reading speech to include only matters relevant to psychiatrists. The 4 major changes are:
1.Establishing clinical criteria for what constitutes a severe long-term mental or severe long-term behavioural disturbance or disorder for the purposes of serious injury.
2. No claim for damages for a person who did not witness or was directly involved in a transport accident involving injury or death as a result an intent to commit suicide or suicide or through negligence.
3. An increase in family counselling benefits from $5870 per claim to $15 000 per claim.
4. As from 1 July 2014 the TAC will only reimburse medico-legal report expenses if the medico-legal report is requested jointly by the TAC and the person who is injured.
The Second Reading Speech
This bill is the result of the government’s commitment to maintain the integrity and improve the operational efficiency of the Transport Accident Commission scheme to ensure it remains financially viable so that it can support injured Victorians well into the future.
The objectives of the bill are to clarify the Transport Accident Act 1986 (the act), increase some client benefits and address anomalies. Legislative amendments relating to the original intent of the act. As a community we know much more about mental illness than we did when the TAC scheme was established in 1986 . The government understands that recovering from a transport accident can be a very emotional and challenging time.
This bill introduces clauses that, for the first time, set out clinical criteria of what constitutes a severe long-term mental or severe long-term behavioural disturbance or disorder for the purposes of serious injury. This provision has been developed in consultation with the Department of Health, including the chief psychiatrist. The clinical criteria will encourage people who were directly exposed to a transport accident and who have suffered a recognised mental illness or disorder to seek treatment by a registered mental health professional, to improve their chances of getting their life back on track as soon as possible.
The bill will clarify that the injury or death of a person through suicide, an intention to commit suicide or predominately through their own negligence does not give rise to an action by another person for damages in respect of mental injury (including nervous shock) where the other person was not directly involved in or witnessed the transport accident.
Legislative amendments relating to increased client benefits. Currently under the act, family counselling benefits are capped at $5870 per claim. This bill will increases the cap on family counselling benefits to $15 000 per family claim. This will allow an immediate family member of a person who is killed or severely injured in a transport accident significantly improved access to mental health treatment to address their understandable grief. It is intended that this provision will apply to both new and existing claims.
Currently, the TAC funds the reasonable cost of medical reports obtained by or on behalf of a client, in relation to injuries sustained in a transport accident. On average, clients attend eight medical examinations over the course of their claim, of which, only two are commissioned by the TAC. The remaining examinations are commissioned by the client’s legal representative in support of legal claims. To address the need for a client to attend multiple examinations and to minimise the occurrence of a client attending duplicate examinations in relation to the same specialisation, this bill will enable the TAC to reimburse medico-legal report expenses if the medico-legal report is requested jointly by the TAC and the person who is injured. It is intended that this provision come into operation on 1 July 2014 to inform and assist medical practitioners of this new policy change.