Attention Victoria: New WorkCover Changes You Need to Know!

Victoria’s WorkCover scheme is undergoing significant changes that will impact employees’ compensation for mental health injuries like stress and burnout. These reforms, long-awaited by employers, introduce stricter eligibility requirements for mental injuries. Stress and burnout claims will generally be excluded from weekly compensation, with only mental injuries diagnosed by a medical practitioner according to the most recent version of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” being compensable if they cause significant dysfunction. 

One of the key changes is that employees suffering from stress and burnout will no longer be able to access weekly WorkCover benefits. Instead, they will be eligible for 13 weeks of provisional payments for medical treatment and enhanced psychosocial support services.

Employees receiving payments beyond two-and-a-half years will also have to undergo another impairment and capacity test to determine their continued eligibility. 

In addition to these changes, there will be an independent review into the impact of the reforms, and WorkSafe’s board will be expanded. An advisory committee on the creation of Return to Work Victoria will also be set up.  

The changes, effective as of 31 March 2024, aim to modernise Victoria’s WorkCover scheme, ensuring it continues to support Victorian employees in the future. WorkSafe will deliver enhanced, tailored support to employees through prevention, recovery and return to work. Return to Work Victoria will also be established to provide early intervention and support for employees to return to work. 

We’ve summarised some of the changes below, but we highly encourage you to reach out to chat to us about what exactly these changes might mean for your current business situation. Our team of legally trained consultants can walk you through the reforms, looking at the practical effects it’ll have and suggest ways in which you can ensure compliance. 

Definition of Mental Injury

These changes introduces a definition of mental injury as an injury causing significant behavioural, cognitive, or psychological dysfunction, diagnosed by a medical practitioner according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It includes the recurrence, aggravation, acceleration, exacerbation, or deterioration of any pre-existing mental injury. 

What does this mean for employers: This definition provides clarity for employers on what constitutes a compensable mental injury, ensuring that only significant and diagnosable conditions are eligible for compensation. Employers must be aware of the diagnostic criteria from the DSM to understand when an injury qualifies. 

Entitlement to Compensation

Employees with mental injuries predominantly arising from employment are entitled to compensation. Employment must be the predominant cause of the mental injury, with “predominant” meaning the strongest or largest contributing factor relative to all others. 

What does this mean for employers: Employees can certainly still submit worker’s comp. claims so long as their mental injuries were predominantly caused by work. Even if an employee has had previous mental health conditions or is experience stressors in their personal life, work can still be found to be the predominant factor. This emphasises the importance of providing a safe and healthy work environment to prevent such injuries.  

Exceptions to Compensation

Mental injuries from work-related stress or burnout are not compensable unless the employee’s duties involve exposure to traumatic events. 

What does this mean for employers:  Not all mental injuries, such as those from work-related stress or burnout, will be compensable even if they are predominantly work related. However, an employee may still be entitled to support even if their injury is not compensable, and an employer still has significant work health and safety obligations it must adhere too. For workplaces where your employees are exposed to traumatic events in the line of duty, it’s important to be aware of your heightened responsibilities to reduce the risk of injury. 

Interim Determinations

Under these changes,interim decisions on continued payments under certain circumstances are allowed. 

What does this mean for employers: Employers may be required to process payments during ongoing assessments. 

Provisional Payments

There is now a clarification that the definition of mental injury doesn’t affect provisional payments for mental injuries. 

What does this mean for employers: Employees may still be entitled to access provisional support while their compensation claims are being processed. 

Other changes to employees with ongoing injuries and impairment assessments

There are changes to when employees with ongoing injuries can continue to access compensation. These include new impairment assessments, changes to capacity following surgery, changes to the dispute resolution mechanisms available and changes to the rules around living overseas whilst on compensation as well as changes to the conduct of impairment assessments, definitions used and what to do if there is more than one injury. 

What does this mean for employers: It is useful to note that there are some changes to the management of ongoing injuries, but your insurer should guide you through these as relevant. 

Independent Examination

Employers can request the employee to attend an independent examination after 18 months of the date of the injury or when the employee’s impairment is being assessed for the purposes of the new impairment benefits claim.

What does this mean for employers: This provides a mechanism for obtaining additional medical information to assess employees’ conditions accurately and is something you should discuss with your insurer when relevant. 

In navigating the complex terrain of employment law reforms , Workplace Wizards stands as a beacon of guidance and support for employers. We specialise in offering tailored advice and strategic solutions that align with both legal requirements and company values.  

Understanding your obligations under your relevant legislative framework is vital. Our expert team can show you exactly where your liabilities may be.

Our Wizards have a broad range of experience in workplace health & safety and worker’s compensation, and with our fixed fees you can be sure you’re getting value for money, with no hidden costs.

Call us for a chat to see what we can do for you on (03) 9087 6949 or email us at


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