e-bulletin No. 99 - March 2020
Suspension of face-to-face medical assessments
Since the Commission’s last e-Bulletin, the situation with the coronavirus pandemic has intensified significantly. In response, the Commission has escalated changes to its operations by transitioning all staff to work from home and the conduct of all hearings and conferences by telephone.
The remaining issue of concern for the Commission, and for me personally, is the conduct of face-to-face medical assessments by the AMS cohort. I am concerned about the safety of workers, doctors and their staffs. I am particularly concerned about workers having to travel distances to AMS assessments and then travel home. Already some workers and doctors have made their own decisions not to proceed with assessments. These feelings are all completely understandable.
I have consulted medical and legal experts and cannot be given any guarantees for the health and safety of workers, medical specialists and staff. I am not satisfied that our pre-screening measures will be enough to prevent the possible transmission of the virus.
In those circumstances, I have made the difficult decision to cease all face-to-face medical consultations from tomorrow, 25 March 2020, until further notice. I did not make this decision lightly and am well aware of the significant impact it will have but my primary consideration must be the welfare of all.
We will continue to explore every possible alternative to face-to-face assessments, and we are in discussions with SIRA, icare, WIRO and medical experts regarding this.
Commission staff will commence today to inform workers and legal representatives of the cancellations. You will appreciate this has been a very difficult and demanding time for staff.
I would greatly appreciate your consideration for them and their task. Any pre-warning legal representatives are able to give their clients would be helpful
Suspension of mail by DX and post
Given all Commission staff are working remotely, correspondence lodged by document exchange and post will not be attended to. All documents in proceedings should be lodged via the online portal. Any other general written communications should be by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will continue to update you by e-Bulletin. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones.
Judge Gerard Phillips