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9.1.1 Diagnosable medical conditions


Compensation is payable only in respect to an actual injury suffered by the employee.

Note: 'Injury' as defined by S5A (previously S4) of the SRCA also encompasses 'disease' and 'aggravation' (see parts 10.2 and 10.3 of this handbook). This requires that the employee suffers a medically definable condition resulting from the ADF employment.

For instance, a Delegate may not accept liability to pay compensation for mere exposure to, for example, carcinogenic chemicals. Compensation may certainly be payable in respect to any actual cancer shown to have developed as a consequence of work related exposure to such chemicals, but it is not payable in respect of mere potential for a related cancer to emerge at a later date.

Furthermore, the describable medical condition must exceed the bounds of normal human functioning for it to be described as a 'physical or mental injury' or as an 'ailment' relevant to the Act. For instance in the case of Comcare v Mooi (1996) the employee was affected by work related stress but the medical evidence suggested that the stress merely produced in him reactions that were within the range of normal human responses to distressing events. The Federal Court rejected the suggestion that a compensable disease could exist where the employee 'was not mentally ill or mentally disturbed or suffering from any psychological disorder'. Such cases are, of course, rare.