House Fire CFA attended a fire at 25 Abigail crt Armstrong Creek Picture: Mark Wilson
House Fire CFA attended a fire at 25 Abigail crt Armstrong Creek Picture: Mark Wilson

Cancer-riddled firefighters given compensation

Dozens of firefighters have had their cancer claims ­approved under the state's new presumptive rights scheme.

The Herald Sun can reveal 20 metropolitan firefighters and 14 country members - ­including eight volunteers - have used the new scheme to obtain compensation while their claim is being processed.

The move means many could access vital money for treatments and care that previously could take months or years to obtain.

Since the new law was passed in Victoria in 2019 the total payouts have totalled ­almost $500,000 with more than half of the claims relating to cases of prostate cancer.

Six cases related to blood cancer, three firefighters had bowel cancer, two kidney cancers and there were cases of two bladder cancers, according to WorkSafe data.

Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy. Picture: Mark Stewart
Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy. Picture: Mark Stewart

Workplace Safety Minister Jill Hennessy said 35 people were using the scheme, with more expected to apply.

"Our laws will save lives and we're providing our dedicated firefighters with the compensation they deserve for dealing with the enormous challenges they face," she said.

Under the program, career and volunteer firefighters can access presumptive compensation in relation to 12 specific diseases if it was likely they were made ill in the course of their firefighting work.

This includes cancer cases that can be linked to the use of PFAS at Victorian fire training facilities. The scheme's initial success has been revealed as Victorian fire services continue to deal with ongoing PFAS contamination.

Last month, the MFB reported finding the toxic chemical at multiple fire stations in Melbourne that had previously been cleared.

More in-depth testing is being carried out at 47 MFB sites across Melbourne, as well as at least one childcare centre built on a decommissioned site, and some surrounding properties.

alex.white@news.com.au



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