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Distraught Victorian firefighters have called out the emergency services minister regarding the state government’s failure to pass illness compensation laws.
Currently firefighters in Victoria who have contracted cancer that may have been caused by their workplace conditions are not covered by WorkCover payments.
However a small contingent of firefighters employed by the commonwealth, mostly at airports, are able to claim government comp since a 2011 federal law was passed.
Firefighter Marcel Van Elmpt says commonwealth firefighters are covered by compensation legislation if there is a fire at the airport, but if they needed support, state crews would not get the same coverage.
“Same fires, same exposures, same carcinogens, same cancers, but we’re not covered,” he said.
Mr Wells said the government was anticipating a report by Monash University due to be released next year before decisions are made on the future.
He said Victoria had almost 60,000 volunteer firefighters that needed to be taken into account and the laws only apply for full-time firefighters.
“It would be unfair to deal with some people in the CFA (Country Fire Authority) and not other people in the CFA for example.”
United Firefighters Union national secretary Peter Marshall said there was a clear link between occupational cancer and firefighting.
Marshal stated that firefighters based in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania covered volunteer firefighters.
“There is no excuse for any further delay on legislation protecting firefighters here,” he said.
“As we speak, it’s an emotive issue, but it’s a real issue – firefighters are dying from occupational cancer.”
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