Posted on 25 May 2016
Slater and Gordon has welcomed the findings and recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry into the notorious Fiskville training facility.
The leading law firm, which represents around 200 former CFA staff and volunteers, praised the Committee for recognising the need for more adequate avenues for compensation for Fiskville victims and for backing the firm’s principal recommendations to the inquiry.
Senior Associate Andrew Baker, who gave evidence to the inquiry, said the Committee’s findings and recommendations were a major step forward for Fiskville victims who had been denied justice for too long.
“For over four years, Slater and Gordon has been calling for a targeted compensation scheme for Fiskville victims and the introduction of presumptive legislation in relation to workers’ compensation claims for firefighters,” Mr Baker said.
“Both measures are vital in addressing the injustice that the overwhelming majority of Fiskville victims have suffered as a result of being denied compensation despite contracting cancer and other illnesses from exposure to harmful contaminants in their workplace.
“On behalf of our clients, we are pleased to see that the committee has recognised the need to compensate those who have become ill and to introduce retrospective presumptive laws, as already exist in other jurisdictions, that make it easier for victims to seek compensation.
“The CFA is now in a position where it can make amends for the past. It is beyond doubt that the legacy of the Fiskville site is the CFA’s responsibility. They must work with the Victorian Government to adopt a redress scheme for those who have been harmed as a matter of priority.”
The committee found evidence that the CFA was aware of the dangers of contaminants at the former training site and a link between exposure to harmful chemicals and numerous cancers and illnesses.
Slater and Gordon has also welcomed the recommendation for immediate and ongoing medical monitoring.
“The lack of certainty about what impact PFOS and other contaminants have on our clients’ health causes a great deal of stress. Monitoring will ensure that any problems caused by contaminants are detected early,” Mr Baker said.
The committee recommended that the Victorian Government estalish a dedicated redress scheme in consultation with Fiskville victims, which will have broad eligibility and lower standards of proof, to provide a range of compensation options appropriate to individual circumstances.
“The findings of the committee are damning and its recommendations, if adopted, will finally deliver justice to those who worked, trained and volunteered at Fiskville, as well as those who lived nearby who have been affected,” Mr Baker said.
“While the Fiskville site has now been shut, the impact it has left on the community has been widespread and devastating.
“Slater and Gordon is committed to obtaining justice for our many clients and will continue to advocate on their behalf.”