Significant increase in stress claims in Victoria and separately an overview of the relative incidence in workers and industries

Significant increase in stress claims in Victoria and separately an overview of the relative incidence in workers and industries

October 23, 2014

Stress Claims in Victoria as of June 30 2014  (adapted from The Age 21 October 2014)

The annual number of claims for mental disorders has risen by almost 470 in five years while the annual amount paid out in compensation has soared by 45 per cent to $273 million. Job-related stress is increasing in Victorian workplaces with 58 compensation claims for psychological injuries being accepted every week.

Victoria’s two biggest worker compensation categories – musculoskeletal complaints and major sprains and strains – have either fallen or remained steady in claim numbers over the same period along with most other physical injuries. For the first time, mental disorders have overtaken wounds to become the state’s third-leading workplace injury.

WorkCover data shows the average individual compensation payout for psychological injuries has ballooned from $73,000 in 2008-09 to almost $90,000 in the past financial year.

Mental health group Beyondblue attributes the rise in work-related mental stress claims to reduced stigma, heavier workloads and increasing job insecurity.  But it was also being driven by a heightened recognition of the connection between the workplace and mental health, the group said, with a series of high-profile civil lawsuits ending in six and seven-figure payouts from employers found at fault.

Last month, former teacher Peter Doulis was awarded more than $1.3 million in damages for chronic depression after he was found to have been allocated an unduly heavy workload of a western suburbs school’s worst-behaved students.

“Cases like these get people thinking about their own workplace and conditions, and reflecting more objectively about situations they may be tolerating,” Beyondblue head of workplace policy Nick Arvanitis said.

With an estimated one in five workers taking time off work due to feeling mentally unwell in the past year, industry groups and health advocates have urged employers to treat the mental health of their staff as seriously as physical health and safety.

The data below gives a more comprehensive overview of those industries and workers more likely to make stress claims.

Mental stress claims (data from The Incidence of Accepted Workers’ Compensation Claims for Mental Stress in Australia April 2013)
  • Mental stress claims are the most expensive form of workers’ compensation claims because of the often lengthy periods of absence from work typical of these claims.
  • Mental stress claims are predominantly made by women.
  • Men and women are more likely to make a claim for mental stress as they get older but after they reach 54 years the likelihood that they made a claim decreases.
  • More Professionals made claims for mental stress than other any other occupation with over a third of their claims made for Work pressure.
  • There were more mental stress claims made for Work pressure than any other sub-category.
  • The hazards that result in mental stress claims vary with worker age. Younger workers are more likely to make claims as a result of exposure to workplace or occupational violence
  • Work pressure is the main cause of mental stress claims for older workers, peaking for those aged 45–49 years.
  • General clerks, School teachers and Police Officers accounted for the majority of claims for Work pressure.
  • Women were around three times more likely than men to make a workers’ compensation claim due to work-related harassment &/or workplace bullying
  •  Approximately one-third of all claims in this mental stress sub-category were made by workers in the occupational categories of advanced clerical & service workers and general clerks.
  • For the industries with the highest number/rate of mental stress claims, the majority of claims were for work pressure. This was particularly true in the Education sector.
  • Claims for exposure to workplace or occupational violence were notable in the Retail trade industry
  • The Transport & storage and Health & community services industries dominated claims for exposure to a traumatic event.

Mental Disorders in Victoria


2008/2009       2590

2013/2014       3056

Cost Estimate

2008/2009       $189.3m

2013/2014       $273.2m

All Injuries

2008/2009       28,805

2013/2014       26,508

Cost Estimate

2008/2009       $1,566.6m

2013/2014       $1,620.7m





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