Firefighter cancer scheme would be expanded under Greens' bill


The Victorian Greens have today released a draft Bill to expand the number of cancers covered by the state’s firefighters presumptive cancer scheme, to better support women and gender diverse people in the field.

The current scheme is an acknowledgement of the dangers firefighters put themselves in every time they fight a fire. 

Evidence collected from firefighters around the world has demonstrated firefighters are at risk of developing various cancers simply by virtue of the job they are required to perform – entering burning buildings to save Victorian lives and properties.

In recognition of this, the presumptive cancer scheme reverses the onus of proof so that there is a presumption that a firefighter has developed cancer as a result of their work rather than having to prove their job contributed to developing a cancer.

These laws work to better protect firefighters and their families.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of firefighters, and advocates like former Greens MP Colleen Hartland, Victoria eventually followed the Commonwealth and other states in enacting a presumptive scheme here in 2019.

However the scheme now needs updating to add more cancers, including cervical, ovarian and uterine cancer.

Last year the Commonwealth, following scientific evidence and lobbying by Adam Bandt and the cross-bench, added a further eight cancers to the list covered by the Commonwealth firefighters presumptive scheme. 

Without Victoria following suit, firefighters working at the airport will have more protection than firefighters working at a local station mere kilometres away.

The Bill the Greens are releasing today will update the cancers covered by the law to include:


Qualifying period

Primary site lung cancer

15 years

Primary site skin cancer 

15 years

Primary site cervical cancer 

10 years

Primary site ovarian cancer 

10 years

Primary site uterine cancer 

10 years

Primary site penile cancer 

15 years

Primary site pancreatic cancer 

10 years

Malignant mesothelioma 

15 years

Primary site thyroid cancer 

10 years

Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:

“It was a proud day when the law establishing the presumptive cancer scheme for firefighters passed the Victoria Parliament. 

“The Greens have been champions of this scheme since the beginning with Adam Bandt instrumental in the Commonwealth scheme being established and Colleen Hartland a fierce advocate in Victoria for over a decade.

”But the scheme now needs updating. In the last parliament, Tania Maxwell brought a bill to expand the scheme to include ovarian, cervical and uterine cancer. 

“Our Bill includes these same important cancers to make the scheme more equitable but also matches the expansion to the Commonwealth scheme so Victorian firefighters and their families aren’t less protected than their federal counterparts.”

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