The medical assessment tribunals (tribunals) do not investigate a matter from scratch. The tribunal members rely on the quality of the information provided by the insurer who referred the matter. Tribunals can also consider medical evidence obtained by the worker (see below for further details).
The insurer is responsible for advising a worker why they are being referred to a medical assessment tribunal. The insurer will send the referral paperwork to Tribunal Services, Office of Industrial Relations.
Once the insurer refers all the relevant documentation and Tribunal Services validates the referral, a Tribunal Coordinator will send a copy to the worker and the tribunal members allocated for the tribunal.
If the worker has a nominated representative, a copy of the documentation can be sent to them as well.
As the tribunal appointment is booked a few weeks in advance, there may be instances when a worker has received or obtained an additional report or document that was not originally provided by the insurer. If this is the case, the worker can send this extra information to the Tribunal Coordinator and the insurer no later than 10 business days before the appointment. Email is the preferred method for sending information to the Tribunal Coordinator via MATadditionaldocuments@qcomp.com.au.
The Tribunal Coordinator will send the extra information received to the tribunal members for their review before the appointment and to the insurer. The insurer may provide a written response to the extra information for the tribunal members' consideration. The insurer must provide their written response to the Tribunal Coordinator and the worker within three business days before the appointment.
Any documents that have not been shared between the worker (and/or their representative), the insurer and the tribunal members within the required timeframes cannot be considered by the tribunal. The only exception is radiological imaging such as x-rays, CT scans or MRI's. These must be brought by a worker to their tribunal appointment.
A worker may choose to be represented during the tribunal by a legal or union representative. A worker is responsible for any costs associated with being represented. These costs are not paid by the insurer or the Office of Industrial Relations.
The worker's representative can:
- Receive a copy of the worker's referral paperwork upon the worker's authorisation
- Attend the tribunal with the worker
- Provide additional information verbally to the tribunal members during the tribunal
- Receive a copy of the medical assessment tribunal decision.
A worker may also ask a support person to attend the tribunal with them to make them feel more comfortable. A support person could be a spouse, parent, friend or work colleague. A support person is allowed to attend the tribunal however they are not allowed to speak on a workers behalf during the appointment or attend a clinical examination for a physical injury. Workers are not allowed to have a medical practitioner attend the tribunal as either a representative or as a support person.
The day of the medical assessment tribunal
The worker will be greeted by the reception team on the ground floor once they arrive at the Office of Industrial Relations. The worker and any support person or representative will be required to sign in. If a legal representative is present a worker may be directed to the appropriate floor where the tribunal rooms are located. Otherwise a worker will be required to wait in reception.
A Tribunal Officer will meet the worker and their support person in the reception foyer. They will introduce themselves and escort the worker to the appropriate floor where the tribunal rooms are located.
There is a separate reception area for workers attending the medical assessment tribunals.. A staff member is always present in this area in case a worker needs anything while they wait for their appointment.
Attending a tribunal can be a nervous and stressful experience for some workers. There is a dedicated wellness room available if a worker needs to use this quiet and private space before their appointment. Restrooms are available and lockers with keys are provided for storage of any bags as these are not allowed in the tribunal area. Any documents or paperwork can be taken into the tribunal room.
The tribunal members will be advised that the worker has arrived for their appointment. The Tribunal Officer will collect the worker from the reception area and accompany them into the room where the tribunal will take place. The Tribunal Officer is not present during the tribunal.
The tribunal usually takes between 45 to 60 minutes. The tribunal members will discuss the medical aspects of the worker's claim with the worker. The tribunal members may also perform a clinical examination for a worker who has experienced a physical injury. A female Tribunal Officer will be present to chaperone and assist all female workers during their clinical examination. Support persons or representatives cannot attend this examination.