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Strategic priority five: Being adaptive and sustainable in the face of change

Analysis of performance against our key activities

Delivering an adaptive, secure, digital environment which supports our agency to service the needs of our stakeholders in an efficient and effective way.

Microsoft Teams is fully deployed and in wide use by Comcare employees and external stakeholders. Planning for Microsoft Teams calling to replace the legacy system is underway, along with the replacement of the aging video conferencing system, with full replacement to occur over the next 18 months.

Planning for the migration of both personal and group drives to the cloud has commenced.

The project to digitise paper records is underway; completion will take approximately 5 years with over 14,000 files being scanned in the last year.

All Comcare end user devices have been refreshed, including a transition away from desktop PCs to mobile options such as laptops or tablets for all employees to enable remote working. At the same time, advanced end point protection has been implemented on all Comcare computing devices to improve cybersecurity controls and provide additional cyber security protection for Comcare employees working from home, providing the agency flexibility and reducing the risks of data loss.

Reviewing our premium model

We are progressing the review of our premium model and processes with the goals of simplification and improved transparency while also ensuring adherence to SRC premium guidelines. An independent actuarial advisor was engaged to deliver this technical piece of work. We will commence consultation with premium paying agencies in 2021–22.

Embedding our new learning management system (LMS) and developing a blended education offering for the jurisdiction to support national better practice and compliance

Comcare has invested in enhancing learning capabilities and technologies, to expand its engagement, training and education services. This has included a cloud-based LMS, a rapid content development tool and a virtual delivery and collaboration platform. Refer to performance measure 4 for more information.

Implementing changes to claims management practice, capability and systems to improve current and future outcomes

In response to feedback, the external environment and the need to improve our outcomes, the Claims Management Group:

  • supported continued use of telehealth services during COVID-19
  • developed initiatives to improve decision making on claims, including implementing a triage process and greater integration between injury managers and claims operations
  • collaborated more with employers to improve the coordination of rehabilitation and claims management activities
  • increased claims manager capability through enhanced induction processes, digitised training and revised guidance materials.

Highlight: Comcare’s adaptive response to COVID–19

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, Comcare has continued to perform our roles and functions as a scheme manager, insurer and claims manager, and national WHS regulator.

We have supported employers and employees in our scheme and in the wider community through the timely provision of WHS advice, guidance and resources, and by undertaking enforcement actions where necessary.

Comcare has released a range of practical information to help organisations and individuals manage workplace risks from the pandemic and navigate their responsibilities under the WHS Act and SRC Act.

Our guidance includes factsheets and posters on a range of topics including:

  • COVID-safe work and workplaces
  • transitioning back to usual workplaces and managing risk
  • looking after your mental health, developed in conjunction with the APSC
  • working from home.

Early in the reporting period, it became clear that the pandemic and in particular the prolonged lockdown restrictions many were experiencing, were having a significant impact on the mental health of employees. Comcare adopted a prevention and early intervention approach to supporting mentally healthy workplaces, leading and collaborating on targeted initiatives and providing advice to support employees and employers across our scheme.

This work was designed to assist employers to proactively prevent psychological harm, support recovery and return to work, and promote positive mental health practices in workplaces. We also partnered with Beyond Blue to roll out an employee wellbeing program called NewAccess workplaces for APS agencies.

We have transitioned delivery of our training offerings from face-to-face to online channels. We conducted webinars on the following topics:

  • COVID-19 – Navigating a new normal (30 July 2020)
  • Accelerated workplace change in the face of COVID-19 (8 October 2020)
  • COVID-19 – Our work, mental health and wellbeing (14 October 2020)
  • COVID-19 – Safety systems and safety culture (28 October 2020)

The webinars were well received and attracted a large number of participants from our scheme and beyond.

We also developed training and learning products which provided employers and workers guidance on their respective WHS responsibilities and how to manage COVID related risks:

Comcare’s guidance, resources and information are available on the dedicated COVID-19 page on our website, www.comcare.gov.au.

Internally, we rapidly transitioned our employees to remote working arrangements, using technology such as Microsoft Teams to promote virtual communication and collaboration. Our approach of empowering Comcare employees to undertake flexibility with responsibility has ensured we have maintained productivity despite the majority of our employees working from home either full time or part time during 2020–21 depending on local state/territory health advice. We have therefore been able to continue providing services to our scheme, processing claims from employees and performing our regulatory roles and functions throughout the pandemic without interruption and with a continued focus on external client needs.