Comcare spanked for underpaying

by 30 Mar 2010

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has found that Comcare does not currently have a means for injured government workers to redress miscalculations in payments.

The report followed the ombudsman’s investigation into two cases in which injured workers had been underpaid for 10 and 13 years, leading to “significant financial hardship”. Comcare had failed to identify its miscalculations.

The report found that neither Comcare nor the the Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance) had in place a mechanism to compensate people in the circumstances looked at in the review, Comcare and Department of Finance and Deregulation: Discretionary payments of compensation.

‘[Claimants] should be able to trust that Comcare will detect fundamental errors and that they will do so within a reasonable timeframe,” Acting Ombudsman Mr Ron Brent said.

‘However, even though [one of the claimants] raised concerns with Comcare several times throughout the 13 years that he was underpaid, Comcare did not review its calculations because he did not put the concerns in writing,” he added.

“Comcare again apologises to the people affected . We recognise that coping with injury and disability has major challenges and the right level of support compensation is important,” Comcare chief Paul O’Connor said late last week.

He added that Comcare was improving its technology systems to handle such claims and agreed that workers should be able to trust Comcare, which was outlined by the ombudsman as a key principal for its operation.

“We have already used the findings in the Ombudsman’s report to improve our systems,” said O’Conner.