Changed compensation rules for SES and Marine Rescue volunteers in South Australia
In an earlier blog post I pointed out an anomaly in South Australian law where volunteers with the Country Fire Service were deemed employees of the State, and so entitled to workers compensation if they were injured in the course of their CFS duties, but volunteers with the SES were not (see Compensation for South Australian SES volunteers, August 6 2012). In that post I said “The situation could be easily rectified by ‘prescribing’ SES volunteers for the purposes of the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986 (SA) s 103A.”
I’m pleased to report that the South Australian government has amended the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Regulations 2010 (SA) Reg 17. That regulation now says that for the purposes of the Act, volunteer fire fighters, volunteer SASES members and volunteer marine rescue members are “prescribed” that is the “Crown” is presumed to be their employer and they are entitled to workers compensation if they are killed or injured in the course of their duties.
I note the amendment was made on the 14th October 2012, two months after my blog post. I don’t know if this blog influenced the regulation makers, but it would be nice to think that the blog was noticed and had some effect.
In terms of the amended regulation, SES volunteers are ‘covered’ during:
(i) any activity directed towards dealing with an emergency that requires SASES to act to protect life, property or the environment;
(ii) attending in response to a call for assistance by SASES;
(iii) attending an SASES meeting, competition, training exercise or other organised activity;
(iv) any other activity carried out in relation to the functions of SASES under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005.
Volunteers with the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association (S.A. Group) Incorporated, the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol (SA) Incorporated, the South Australian Sea Rescue Squadron Incorporated, the Victor Harbor-Goolwa Sea Rescue Squadron Incorporated, the Whyalla Sea Rescue Squadron Incorporated or the Air Sea Rescue Squadron Cowell Incorporated are covered when engaged:
(i) in any activity directed towards—
(A) dealing with an emergency that requires a marine rescue association to act to protect life, property or the environment; or
(B) provision of marine radio monitoring or the broadcast of safety messages;
(ii) attending in response to a call for assistance by a marine rescue association.
Interestingly to be ‘covered’ a person has to be a member of the SES or a member of one of the listed marine rescue organisation. One does not have to be a member of the CFS to be a volunteer fire fighter. The term volunteer fire fighter does include members of the CFS but also a ‘casual’ volunteer who assists in fighting a fire “at the request or with the approval of a person who is apparently in command pursuant to Part 4 of the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005”. A casual volunteer at a fire is covered, but someone who steps forward, or is asked to assist by the SES at a flood, or a boat owner who is asked to assist a marine rescue organisation, is not.
23 March 2013