There are calls for the NSW Treasurer to sack the icare board amid allegations of mismanagement and failure within the state’s workers compensation scheme.
icare is the largest public sector insurer in Australia, providing coverage for 329,000 NSW government employees and 82,000 volunteers as well as more than $193 billion of NSW government assets.
Labor finance spokesman Daniel Mookey questioned how treasurer Dominic Perrotett can justify leaving icare’s leadership in place following a Four Corners inestigation aired on the ABC on Monday night.
“Revelation after revelation shows a torrid culture infesting his $32 billion agency. But the Treasurer still defends icare’s leaders. It’s inexplicable,” Mr Mookey said in a statement on Tuesday.
Among the claims are that the agency, created by the state government in 2015, has underpayed more than 50,000 injured workers up to $80 million.
Questions also surround the long-term sustainability of the organisation, which reportedly racked up underwriting losses totalling $4.54 billion in the past three years.
Government stands by system
Mr Perrottet said the government had introduced significant reform to modernise the workers compensation scheme in 2015.
“All significant reforms come with challenges, and this process is no different. The management team and Board have been instrumental in driving this change and seeking to strike a fairer balance between providing for injured workers and meeting the needs of employers,” he told Government News.
“We will continue to make improvements to the workers compensation system and address shortcomings, as we strive to get the best result for around 3.6 million employees and more than 325,000 businesses and Government agencies across NSW.”
CEO of the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIA) Carmel Donnelly indicated to Four Corners that she had referred iCare to the ICAC.
She described icare’s conduct as “unacceptable”.
The Greens have also called for the board to be sacked and for senior executives to return their bonuses and pay back injured workers.
The top seven paid icare executives reportedly earn an average of $660,000 while 45 executives are marking around $300,000 a year.
“With the scheme running fresh deficits and major mismanagement being proven, the senior executives and board of icare remain the highest paid in the entire NSW public sector,” Greens MP David Shoebridge said.
icare announces reviews
On Monday iCare said its customer advocate would review vulnerable customers to improve support.
“We recognise there’s different personal circumstances which can result in vulnerability, and that the interaction with claims management systems and processes may also contribute to customers becoming vulnerable,” CEO John Nagle said in a statement.
Customer Advocate Darrin Wright said the review will focus on understanding when greater levels of support are needed across all insurance and care schemes managed by icare.
“I’ll be reaching out to customers who have engaged with icare services to learn more about periods of time where they believe they were vulnerable after lodging a claim and understanding how icare can evolve their service delivery models to provide better support to customers,” he said.
On July 14 icare announced a review of the Treasury Managed Fund (TMF) personal injury business which provides NSW government agencies with support for employees who who suffer work related injury and illness.
Mr Nagle said the review was a step in ensuring the NSW personal injury service was addressing the needs of government agencies and their employees.
Meanwhile, allegations have also been raised about Victoria’s workers compensation scheme, with the state’s Ombudsman Deborah Glass telling Four Corners there was systemically “immoral and unethical” behaviour as well as “gaming of the system” within WorkSafe Victoria.
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