Thursday 15th November 2012
The NSWNMA cannot and will not stand by and leave nurses unprotected after the New South Wales government walked away from its responsibility to ensure that workers injured on the way to work are looked after.
The NSWNMA has obtained insurance for all our financial members for journey claims, as well as further professional indemnity insurance for members who may occasionally work in other states, where protection does not ensure they won’t be individually sued by patients or their employer for alleged acts of negligence.
The first is a response to the O’Farrell Government taking away protection following its attack on the state workers compensation scheme.
The extra insurance we have obtained for members is in itself not enough to make up for the full loss of protection that has occurred as a result of the government’s heartless and uncaring action. It does however provide a safety net, and may save many members from financial ruin as a result of an injury while trying to safely get to or from work.
It is a form of accident insurance and will give 85% of average gross weekly salary for up to two years, and some other important benefits, such as death benefits and some rehabilitation costs (see page 20). By law it can’t provide cover for medical costs.
The insurance is only available to members who are fully financial at the time of an accident, so it is important that members ensure they are financial at all times. The best way to do that is to pay your membership fees via Direct Debit. This is more reliable than depending on your employer or forgetting to pay your accounts promptly.
This new insurance is currently being absorbed in the membership fee. It is a serious financial burden on the union and time will tell if it is sustainable. It is not the long-term solution to this problem. Political and legislative action is.
We, along with other unions in NSW, will continue to put pressure on the government to accept its responsibilities and restore the protection that workers injured at work, and on the way to and from work, need and deserve. You will need to add your voice and vote to this long-term campaign.
In the meantime, the NSWNMA Council has authorised the provision of journey insurance protection for financial members. Many members could not afford to buy this insurance on an individual basis.
I strongly urge all members: look at the insurance provided by your industry superannuation fund and consider maximising your income protection and death and disability insurances through your super. The industry super funds, with their economies of scale, offer extremely good value insurance for union members.
The second insurance we have obtained will protect nurses and midwives who may occasionally cross state borders as part of their work. It is not easy to establish whether employers in other states have suitable professional indemnity insurance and the employee protections provided by NSW law. This insurance provided by the NSWNMA does not take away the obligation that employers in NSW have to provide professional indemnity insurance. It does however give all our fully financial members security about fulfilling their professional indemnity requirements for their registration.
I would like to congratulate the Association’s Assistant Secretary Judith Kiejda on her election as Junior Vice-President of the ACTU, a role she will take on additionally to her duties at the NSWNMA.
It is not only an honour for Judith personally, but also further recognition for nurses at the highest level of an important Australian institution. Judith follows in the footsteps of another nurse, Ged Kearney, who is the current ACTU President.
Part of Judith’s responsibilities at the ACTU will be as a member of ALAC – a group of union leaders who regularly meet with and advise the Prime Minister on issues that are important to Australian workers and their families.
I am sure Judith will use this opportunity to ensure the concerns of nurses and midwives are heard at the highest levels of government.