Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 01, 2022


Independent Medical Advisers

In reply to the Hon. S.G. WADE ().6 September 2022).

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I have been advised:

A selection committee exists to make recommendations to the minister for the purpose of appointing medical practitioners as independent medical advisers (IMA's) under section 118 of the Return to Work Act 2014.

That committee currently comprises two medical specialists, Professor Ted Mah and Dr Peter Jezukaitis, an employer representative Ms Kendall Crowe, and an employee representative Mr Donald Blairs.

In the most recent round of appointments in May 2022, the committee sought expressions of interest from medical practitioners for appointment as an IMA, including by inviting existing IMA's to reapply.

In areas of specialisation where no expressions of interest were received, the committee made targeted approaches to medical colleges and specialist medical practitioners involved in the workers compensation system, including personal letters from the committee chair Professor Mah.

Following this process one ophthalmologist was appointed as an IMA. No expressions of interest were received from neurologists and currently there is no neurologist appointed as an IMA.

I am advised that there have been infrequent instances where the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) has been unable to refer a medical question to an IMA because there is no IMA with the required specialty.

However, section 35(1) of the South Australian Employment Tribunal Act 2014 allows SAET to 'refer any question arising in any proceedings for investigation and report by an expert in the relevant field'. This can be used for a medical question where there is no appointed IMA in the required field.

I will be consulting with the selection committee about what steps can be taken to attract specialist medical practitioners to nominate for appointment as IMAs to fill any gaps which may currently exist.