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22.1 Declared Occupational Diseases - S7(1), SRCA

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Subsection 7(1) relates to diseases in which there is a well established medical nexus between that disease and a particular type of work or exposure to a particular chemical substance.

The form of S7(1) is:

7(1) Where:

a)              an employee has suffered, or is suffering, from a disease or the death of an employee results from a disease

b)              the disease is of a kind specified by the Minister by notice in writing as a disease related to employment of a kind specified in the notice, and

c)              the employee was, at any time before symptoms of the disease first became apparent, engaged by the Commonwealth or a licensed corporation in employment of that kind,

the employment in which the employee was so engaged shall, for the purposes of this Act, be taken to have contributed in a material degree to the contraction of the disease, unless the contrary is established.

Subsection 7(1) acts through the action of a schedule signed by the Minister, which matches 'occupational diseases' with 'employment involving exposure to risk' i.e. known occupational causes. Essentially, the schedule consists mainly of a generalised list of diseases caused by named harmful substances and the 'employment' factor is listed as 'employment involving exposure to...' that harmful substance.

Delegates should now refer directly the Declaration under 7(1) as published at Appendix 5 of the Annotated SRCA (Ballard/Sutherland) or to Appendix 2 at the end of this manual.

The effect of Subsection 7(1) is to cut short any additional investigation of whether a client's disease was in fact caused by employment in his/her individual case.

The only matters now to be decided by the Delegate are:

1.Is the client's diagnosed disease known to be capable of causation by exposure to a substance listed in the schedule?

2.Has the client been exposed to that substance as part of his/her military service?

If both questions can be answered in the affirmative, liability MUST be conceded. The 'balance of probability' test is suspended where Subsection 7(1) applies. The Delegate does not have the power to decide differently:

  • Even if for example the Delegate becomes aware that the client also had post-discharge exposure to the chemical or only minimal exposure during service.
  • Unless it can be positively proven that employment did not contribute to the disease (i.e. a 'reverse onus' demonstration which is, for practical purposes, impossible under these circumstances and for these diseases).