e-bulletin No. 87 September 2019
Policy on publication of decisions
Section 365(1) of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 provides that the Workers Compensation Commission may cause details of its decisions and determinations to be published.
The Commission operates under a presumption in favour of publication to ensure public transparency, accountability, education and guidance to parties. As the profession is no doubt aware, decisions published by the Commission include sensitive personal and health information. The power to publish decisions, and benefits associated with publishing, must be balanced with the interests of workers and third parties to maintain privacy, particularly in our digital age.
In accordance with these obligations, the Commission maintains a publication policy, available on our website at:
The Commission’s policy includes information regarding how to make an application to withhold a decision from publication. Our practice is to delay publication of the decision for 7 days from its issue, to allow the parties sufficient time to make an application.
A notice accompanies each decision, to remind parties of the presumption in favour of publication unless a request is made within 7 days to withhold its publication. A party may also make an application for non-publication at the hearing. A decision-maker may recommend non-publication.
There have been occasions when the Commission has sought the parties’ concurrence to waive the 7-day non-disclosure period so that the decision can be immediately published.
A decision may be withheld from publication for various reasons including the confidential or sensitive nature of information in it and concerns for the welfare of the injured worker or others. The Commission may de-identify one or more persons named in a decision, as an alternative to withholding publication.
The Commission is aware that some legal practitioners circulate decisions before the decision is published, which is contrary to the policy and its purpose.
The Commission’s policy, including whether decisions should be withheld from publication for 7 days, will be discussed at the Commission’s next User Group meeting on
9 October 2019. The legal profession is represented on the User Group by the following members:
Mr Ross Stanton, Bar Association representative (email@example.com)
Mr Shane Butcher, Law Society representative (Shane.Butcher@lawpartners.com.au)
Mr Steve Harris, Law Society representative (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ms Kristi McCusker, Law Society representative (email@example.com)
Mr Andrew Mulcahy, Law Society representative (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you would like to raise any issues with respect to the Commission’s publication policy, you are invited to contact your User Group representatives or write to me at Rodney.Parsons@wcc.nsw.gov.au. Unless the policy is changed, the Commission expects practitioners to observe the 7-day non-disclosure period.