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3.2 Impairment


Impairments must be caused by accepted injuries to be compensable. Section 4 of the SRCA defines an 'impairment' as:

the loss, the loss of the use, or the damage or malfunction, of any part of the body or of any bodily system or function or part of such system or function.


The Guide to the Assessment of the Degree of Permanent Impairment (the Approved Guide) is set out in 2 parts, the second of which is used to assess Defence-related claims. The Approved Guide expands on the definition of impairment above to include the concept of Whole Person Impairment (WPI): 'Evaluation of whole person impairment is a medical appraisal of the nature and extent of the effect of an injury or disease on a person's functional capacity and on the activities of daily living'. The values assigned to impairments in the Approved Guide are designed to express the extent of each impairment as a percentage value of the functional capacity of a normal healthy person.


While the Approved Guide tries to encompass the concept of WPI, the High Court decisions in Canute v Comcare (2006) HCA 47 (Canute) and Fellowes v MRCC [2009] HCA 38 (Fellowes), as well as the Full Federal Court decision in Robson v MRCC [2013] FCAFC 101 (Robson) must be considered in determining which impairment values are combined, and which must be assessed separately.  See chapter 3.4 for more information on WPI.