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A Firefighter’s Entitlements under WorkCover

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Please note that this post was written for Victorian audiences and the information within may not apply to other regions.

In 2019 the Victorian Labour Government followed other States and introduced the Firefighters’ Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment Act 2019, to provide presumptive rights to career and volunteer firefighters.

As a result, past and current firefighters are automatically entitled to WorkCover compensation under the presumption that their cancer was caused by their service, provided they have been diagnosed from 1 June 2016 with one of the 12 listed cancers in the table below, and have served in operational roles for the prescribed minimum number of years for that specific cancer.

Qualifying Period

Different periods of employment as a service or volunteer firefighter may be combined to determine the qualifying period. There is also a special consideration process for those firefighters who do not meet the relevant qualifying period but can prove that they had an exceptional exposure event in a firefighting capacity.


Qualifying Period

Primary site brain cancer


Primary site bladder cancer


Primary site kidney cancer


Primary non-Hodgkins Lymphoma


Primary leukemia


Primary site breast cancer


Primary site testicular cancer


Multiple myeloma


Primary site prostate cancer


Primary site ureter cancer


Primary site colorectal cancer


Primary site oesophageal cancer



This Scheme is limited to where a diagnosis occurs during the course of a firefighter’s service or within 10 years of them ceasing to serve as a firefighter. There is also an exception to the prescribed minimum number of years where the firefighter attended an exceptional exposure event. This presumption though can be rebutted by WorkSafe or the Country Fire Authority if those authorities can prove that the cancer was not caused by the firefighter’s service as a firefighter.

This scheme is also limited to firefighters who are employed by:

  • Metropolitan Fire Brigade;
  • Country Fire Authority;
  • Fire Rescue Victoria; and
  • CFA volunteers.

Injuries occurring after or on 1 June 2016

Because the presumptive rights law came into operation on 3 July 2019, if a firefighter had previously made a claim with respect to an injury occurring on or after 1 June 2016, and the claim was rejected, the firefighter is entitled to make new claim under presumptive rights for compensation for the same injury.

Firefighters entitlements if they are not covered under the Presumptive Rights Act

Previously, firefighters who had been diagnosed with cancer could have claimed compensation via WorkSafe and had no presumptive rights. They had to prove that the nature of their work significantly increased the risk of them developing the cancer or resulted in a recurrence, deterioration, aggravation, acceleration or exacerbation of a pre-existing cancer. This avenue is still available to those career and volunteer fighters who are not covered by the Firefighters’ Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment Act 2019.

Trust our family to care for you

We have a team of experts on occupational diseases who have seen how traumatic the effects an occupational disease or condition can be on not just the person affected but their family and friends. We also act for one of the first, if not the first, firefighter to have claimed under the new presumptive rights legislation.

If you are a current or former firefighter and have been diagnosed with cancer our expert occupational disease WorkCover lawyers can advise you of your rights under WorkCover compensation, assist you in lodging a WorkCover claim (if appropriate) and assist you in navigating the WorkCover system. Contact us today for an obligation free telephone appointment.

Zaparas Lawyers act on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis. In simple terms, this means that in the unlikely event that we don’t secure compensation for you, we will not charge you for any of our professional fees.