Conventional wisdom is that workers compensation is a contentious industry. Doctors don't agree with lawyers. Regulators don't agree with service providers. Injured workers don't agree with insurance agents. We already 'know' that the parties are at odds with one another, so one or another side attempts to impose its 'solution' to create order out of disagreement.
The idea that the stakeholders and service providers in one state could agree on 'what needs to be done' in workers compensation goes against the grain of conventional thought in the industry. People from different states can only agree that 'their' system is the best, and the one that everyone else ought to follow, right?
It turns out that the conventional thinking about our inability to agree is wrong. Over the course of two years Deakin University invested in the process of asking the people who participate in the system, from regulators and insurance agents, medical and allied health personnel, lawyers, employers and injured workers what they thought would make workers compensation more successful, and it turned out that they agreed on many important suggestions for systemic improvement.
The Stakeholders Speak: Reflections on a National Stakeholder Engagement Series has recently been published by DeakinPrime. The national report discusses a methodology participants described as "unique in the history of the industry" and the surprising range of consensus opinions that were reached on issues ranging from psychological harm to return to work and from medical certificates to accident reporting statistics. The document also contains the individual reports for each of the state and territory stakeholder engagement events across Australia, so that comparisons are possible.
The Stakeholders Speak is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the debate on harmonisation of workers compensation schemes and improvement of the outcomes from our work injury compensation systems.