Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission Annual Report
Functions and powers
The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (MRCC) was established under section 361 of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) in June 2004.
The MRCC provides rehabilitation, compensation and other benefits for current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), including reservists and cadets, who have an injury or disease due to service on or after 1 July 2004. It also includes dependants of members whose deaths were the result of an injury or disease due to service on or after 1 July 2004.
The MRCC functions are to:
- make determinations on the acceptance of liability for service-related conditions, the payment of compensation and the provision of treatment and rehabilitation
- minimise the duration and severity of service-related conditions and promote the return to suitable civilian work
- promote research on the health of members and former members, the prevention of injury and disease, and rehabilitation
- provide advice and information on the operation of the Act to ministers and departmental secretaries of DVA and the Department of Defence, the Chief of the Defence Force and the Services chiefs, either on request or on its own initiative
- undertake other functions that may be conferred on it.
Schedule 2 to the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 (Transitional Act) gives the MRCC functions and powers to determine and manage claims under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) that relate to defence service.
The MRCC has six members:
- the President of the Repatriation Commission
- the Deputy President of the Repatriation Commission
- the Services Member of the Repatriation Commission
- a person nominated by the Minister for Employment who is either a member of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission or a public servant working in the Department of Employment portfolio
- two persons nominated by the Minister for Defence who are either permanent members of the ADF or public servants working in Defence.
The MRCC subcommittee, comprising the three members of the Repatriation Commission, considers routine administrative matters, but its decisions have no legal effect until ratified by the full MRCC.
Liz Cosson AM CSC, Chair
Liz Cosson is President of the Repatriation Commission; her biographical information is provided in the Repatriation Commission’s annual report.
Craig Orme DSC AM CSC
Craig Orme is Deputy President of the Repatriation Commission; his biographical information is provided in the Repatriation Commission’s annual report.
Major General Mark Kelly AO DSC
Major General Mark Kelly is a Commissioner of the Repatriation Commission; his biographical information is provided in the Repatriation Commission’s annual report.
Don Spinks AM
Don Spinks will begin his appointment to the MRCC on 1 July 2019; his biographical information is provided in the Repatriation Commission’s annual report.
Air Vice-Marshal Dr Tracy Smart AO
Air Vice-Marshal Dr Tracy Smart was appointed to the MRCC on 5 May 2016. As Commander Joint Health, she is responsible for the provision of health care to ADF members and the health preparedness of the ADF for operations. As Surgeon General Australian Defence Force, she is responsible for providing strategic health advice to the ADF and technical oversight of the Defence Health System.
Major General Natasha Fox AM CSC
Major General Natasha Fox was appointed to the MRCC on 24 February 2019 as a member for a five-year term following the retirement of Rear Admiral Brett Wolski. She is Head of People Capability in Defence. She has served as the Commanding Officer and Chief Instructor of the Australian Defence Force Academy and has filled a wide range of logistics and personnel-related appointments in Defence and Army. She was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for her service on operations in the Middle East during the period 2012–2013. Along with her distinguished military career, she also holds a Bachelor of Arts, as well as masters degrees in Business Administration, Management in Defence Studies, and Politics and Policy.
Rear Admiral Brett Wolski AM RAN
Rear Admiral Brett Wolski was appointed to the MRCC on 5 May 2016 and retired on 23 November 2018.
Lynette MacLean was appointed to the MRCC as an acting member from 29 January to 28 June 2019 following the retirement of Jennifer Taylor. In this time, she was acting Chief Executive Officer, Comcare. Previously, she held the position of General Manager, Corporate Management Group, Comcare, from November 2015. Ms MacLean has over 30 years’ experience in the Commonwealth public sector as a head of human resources and corporate areas. She has worked in a variety of service delivery, policy and oversight agencies.
Jennifer Taylor was appointed to the MRCC as a member on 11 December 2014 and retired on 24 January 2019.
Relationship with DVA
The MRCC is vested with broad powers to enable it to carry out its functions. It has no staff of its own and relies on employees allocated to it by the Secretary of DVA under the Public Service Act 1999 and on other specified persons, including consultants.
The Chair of the MRCC is also President of the Repatriation Commission and Secretary of DVA. Two other members of the MRCC are also full-time members of the Repatriation Commission. The Secretary has delegated some departmental functions to those two members. This close working relationship enables the two commissions to work collaboratively and play an active role in the effective and accountable management of the department.
Administration of the MRCA and DRCA
The MRCA provides for a comprehensive range of compensation and rehabilitation for injured and ill ADF members and former members, including:
- payments for medical treatment
- income replacement for periods of incapacity for work
- compensation for permanent impairment
- payment for rehabilitation programs
- compensation and support following the death of a member or former member.
Section 384 of the MRCA allows the MRCC to delegate its functions or powers under that Act to individual members of the MRCC, staff assisting the MRCC, certain employees under the Public Service Act 1999, members of the ADF, and a consultant to the MRCC or an employee of that consultant.
Section 152 of the Transitional Act allows the MRCC to delegate its powers and functions under the DRCA to the group of persons specified in section 384 of the MRCA.
Activity in 2018–19
In 2018–19 the full commission held seven formal meetings and considered 46 submissions. The subcommittee of the commission held three meetings and considered four submissions.
Matters considered during 2018–19 included:
- high-level policy and procedures relating to the MRCA amendments to treatment principles
- amendment to treatment principles
- delegation of commission powers
- possible amendments to the MRCA and advice on new policy proposals
- the DVA Strategic Research Model and associated research proposals.
Over the past five years, the number of matters that the MRCC has considered declined substantially, from 122 submissions in 2014–15 to 50 in 2018–19. Much of the decline has been because of the development of full MRCC policies and guidelines to support decision-making by the MRCC delegates.