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21.3.2 SRCA - Material Contribution
The material contribution “test” still applies for any diseases where the date of onset is prior to 13 April 2007.
The definition of 'disease' at S4(1) of the SRCA requires that for a disease to be considered compensable, it must have been 'contributed to in a material degree by the employer's employment'.
The addition of the adjective 'material' was used by this Act to restrict the very open criterion current under its immediate predecessor. It is believed that the intent of those drafting the Act was to require a higher degree of contribution than was required under the 1971 Act. This initially, had mixed success at judicial review which found that the dictionary meaning of 'material' added little to the meaning of the definition.
However, the policy of RCG and its jurisdictional partners is now that the direct contribution of employment must represent at least 10% of the overall causation (or aggravation) of the disease for there to be liability. This policy has been upheld by the AAT.
Whether employment has contributed at least 10% of the causation of disease, may be self evident on known circumstances and the basis of the service medical documents. Failing that, it is a medical judgement. The standard letter of request for a Specialist Medical Review (SMR) of such a case includes an appropriate question on percentage contribution.