Firefighters rally for workers comp changes

Firefighters rally at State Parliament. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Firefighters have rallied a Parliament House this morning, urging politicians to support a proposal to make it easier for firefighters with cancer to get workers compensation.

Shadow emergency services minister Margaret Quirk will today introduce a Bill to amend the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act so that firefighters diagnosed with any of 12 listed cancers are presumed to have contracted the disease through their work.

Under existing laws firefighters have to prove which fire caused a cancer.

Janet Reed, who lost her husband to a suspected work-related cancer in 2009, was among those at the rally.

International studies have linked exposure to smoke, chemicals and toxins from building fires to higher rates of cancers in firefighters.

It is understood the changes the State Opposition will propose are the same as those introduced in Federal Parliament by Greens MP Adam Bandt in July last year and passed in the Senate in November.

Mr Bandt has said firefighters begin their careers in better health than most people but after several years become five to 10 times more likely to get certain cancers.

Cancers that are more prevalent and likely to be covered are brain, bladder, kidney, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukaemia, breast, testicular, multiple myeloma, prostate, ureter, colorectal and oesophageal.