The SRCOLA 2007 amendments changed the definition of disease from 'material contribution' to 'contribution to a significant degree'. This amendment came into effect on 13 April 2007 and impacts any SRCA claimants where the date of onset of a disease is on or after this date (see discussion on date of onset at 21.2).

The purpose of the change was to give proper effect to the higher test which was originally intended under the SRCA in 1988 with the inclusion of the word “material” as the definition of material has, since that time, been eroded by the Courts.

To a significant degree is defined by the Act in s5B as 'a degree that is substantially more than material.' The employment must have contributed to the disease to a significant degree. S5B(2) outlines what factors may be taken into account in determining whether the employment contributed to a significant degree:

  1. the duration of the employment
  2. the nature of, and particular tasks involved in, the employment;
  3. any predisposition of the employee to the ailment or aggravation;
  4. any activities of the employee not related to the employment;
  5. any other matters affecting the employee's health.

This subsection does not limit the matters that may be taken into account.

It is clear from the wording of s5B that the contribution of employment must be significant, however this does not require employment to be the only contributing factor. In weighing up whether the disease is contributed by the employee's employment a Delegate should have regard to any relevant aspects listed above to ensure that they are satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that ADF employment is:

  • a contributing factor to the disease; and
  • that factor either on its own or weighed against other factors is significant.