Structured Settlements and Structured Orders became available to compensible accident victims in December 2002.
Premier of NSW Australia, Mr Bob Carr invited Christopher Reeve (Actor, Director, Author) to Sydney. Mr Reeve was the keynote speaker at Making Connections NSW Premier's Forum on Spinal Cord Injury and Conditions in January 2003.
2003 News - Structured Settlements and Structured Orders
Making Connections the NSW Premier's Forum on Spinal Cord Injury and Conditions aims were AWARENESS To raise public awareness of spinal cord injuries and related conditions. RESEARCH To share information on future scientific, therapeutic and public action. CONNECTION To promise connections that enhance the quality of life for people affected by spinal cord injury (SCI) and conditions. For more information, please visit www.nsw.gov.au/spinalforum.
||Keynote Speaker, Christopher Reeve - Actor, Director, Author.
Read Christopher Reeve's keynote speech. [PDF Document - 116kb]
||Caring Partnerships Speaker, Judie Stephens.
Read Judie's 'Jackson's Love and Care While We Await the Cure' speech. [PDF Document - 220kb]
2002 News - Structured Settlements and Structured Orders
Can you imagine someone who has been catastrophically injured receiving a lump sum and being expected to manage it competently for the rest of their lives? Indeed, some people are totally capable but others are extremely vulnerable and need to be protected. Thanks to our Federal Parliament the solution has evolved in the form of Structured Settlements and Structured Orders.
Structured Settlements are available when a Plaintiff and Defendant agree at settlement or in Court. Structured Orders apply when a Plaintiff and Defendant cannot agree on settlement or a Structured Settlement in Court and then a Judge may make a Structured Order. These Structures are in a form on an indexed life-time annuity to pay for care, rehabilitation and medical needs.
As a result we have an extremely secure and viable solution for our compensable injured people who wish to have life-long security.
What did our Federal Government achieve? They removed taxation on Structured Settlements and Structured Orders. This is a great initiative and encourages injured people to look at their long-term security. Indeed, a win for Plaintiff, a win for Defendant and a win for Australian taxpayers who now don't have to support our compensable victims with health and social security benefits.
On 27 November 1993, Jackson my maternal grandson was a three-month-old infant. Jackson and his two older brothers were tragically orphaned. Because of this terrible motor vehicle accident, a happy healthy bouncing boy became quadriplegic and blind. Three tiny boys lost the love and nurture of their parents forever.
A few years after, I started looking beyond the day-to-day care and wondering how people like Jackson, who would receive compensation, could manage their affairs for the rest of their life. After all, I am now fifty-eight and Jackson is only nine. The big issue really is - what happens when I am no longer here? That's the enormous concern facing so many people who manage the affairs of those who are differently abled.
So I looked at the alternatives that are available both in NSW and other States and, quite frankly, was far from impressed. In fact, I began to see how big this whole issue is, particularly when I started becoming aware of what was happening all around us. You only need to look at the case of Jon Blake and his Mum's terrible plight with the Protective Office to see the difficulties confronting people in this situation. Regularly the media relates sad stories of mismanaged, lost or stolen compensation, injured people and their families subsequently being stripped of their dignity. It's a major issue, so scary for so many.
Our situation has been similarly caught up in this type of challenge, a challenge which produced continuing aggravation and unnecessary hardship. Let me explain. In September 1997, The Office of the Protective Commissioner NSW was appointed as Jackson's Financial Manager. I had visited the Protective Commissioner and was told that they would manage Jackson's parents' estate in conjunction with me. But I was completely duped. There was never meaningful consultation and this never happened.
Considering our predicament, I gave time to research solutions. Something had to change. And my great discovery was that Structured Settlements and Structured Orders are available in the UK, Canada and USA. So the journey to make the changes began...
There were many visits and consultations with the Structured Settlement Group and meetings with my friend Danna Vale MP, Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Rod Kemp, then Assistant Treasurer. There were informal discussions with Peter Costello, Treasurer. I also met with the Prime Minister's Department and worked closely with the Assistant Treasurer's Office over the years. The current medical and public liability crisis has helped the passage of Structured Settlements and Structured Orders.
You may like to look at our evolving community website www.daretodo.asn.au where we share our story of Jackson's rehabilitation and legal journey in the hope that it will assist others. The legal feature illustrates our law reform advocacy for Structured Settlements and Structured Orders.
From a Plaintiff's perspective, Structured Settlements and Structured Orders make great sense. The Defendant Insurer knows that the settlement money is focussed on the injured person's needs. The Judge no longer has the terrible task of having to put a 'use-by' date onto the Plaintiff's life.
It was great news 6 June 2002 when our Assistant Treasurer, Helen Coonan introduced the Structured Settlements and Structured Orders Bill in Parliament. We know that our Government is very focussed on helping those injured and vulnerable in our society. Helen listened with great compassion and understanding when we met in Canberra. Tuesday 10 December 2002, legislation reached its final stage and was passed for the final time through the Federal House of Representatives then Thursday 19 December 2002, Structured Settlements and Structured Orders legislation was given Royal Assent. The Federal legislation is totally complete. It is now vital that each State and Territory amends their Common Law legislation to ensure that Structured Settlements and Structured Orders are available to injured people as soon as possible. In 2003, my professional focus will be to ensure this happens as soon as possible.
Judie walking out of the House of Representatives after the completion of the legislation on Structured Settlements and Structured Orders.
Thanks to David Bowen of the Motor Accident Authority in Sydney who has already made provisions for Structured Settlements in NSW. However, Structured Orders have yet to receive the NSW Parliamentary seal and this should happen as soon as the State election is completed.
David Bowen General Manager of the Motor Accident Authority, NSW Australia and Judie.
To summarise, what do Structured Settlements and Structured Orders mean for people like us:
- They mean that our years of being under scrutiny, of living in a goldfish bowl, have come to an end and we can now get on with the business of living.
- They mean that Jackson's financial future is now assured, and that his financial wellbeing will no longer depend on the vagaries, abilities, knowledge, motives, lifespan or integrity of anyone. This year, Jackson will receive a Structured Settlement or Structured Order when his compensation court case is heard.
- They mean certainty and security, elements that will allow us to concentrate solely on improving Jackson's potential for recovery and continually improving his quality of life, education, rehabilitation and medical needs.
- They mean transparency. We now know what we are dealing with, we will be able to budget for all Jackson's future needs and indeed move forward.
- And all of that adds up to focus, hope, and the ability to celebrate life and what it has to offer.
It is people like Jackson who give us inspiration to move boundaries to dare to make a difference. So now I am asking you to consider: Do you know someone who will benefit from a Structured Settlement or Structured Order? We certainly do!
My visit to Canada USA and United Kingdom searching for information and a greater understanding of Structured Settlements and Structured Orders
In April/May 2001, I had the opportunity of travelling to Toronto, Canada and London, England. I would like to thank those in Canada, Bob Baxter, David Sampson, Frank McKellar and John Rousseau for their great work and understanding of the process that Canadians have experienced. First of all, implementing Structured Settlements and Structured Orders before the tax changes and how they have worked with their Government in creating the opportunity for Canadians to receive pensions for life.
Then on to London, the British people have a similar system of Law and Government that they gave us in our colonial days. We are still linked to the Westminster system. Professor Iain Goldrein has written books about Structured Settlements and Structured Orders. He wrote Structured Settlements and Structured Orders, A Practical Guide, published by Butterworths in 1997. He is a great advocate ensuring that justice is achieved, and Plaintiffs rights and settlements are not eroded. Then, I met with Lord Phillips, Master of the Rolls, thanks to his Private Secretary, Bob Musgrove for this opportunity to meet.
Lord Phillips really wants to look at Structured Settlements and Structured Orders becoming better tailored to suit victims in the UK. In fact, he said that he wonders why Structured Settlements and Structured Orders shouldn't become a part of most settlements and also a Plaintiff should be asked, why they choose not to accept a Structured Settlement. Indeed, Structured Settlements and Structured Orders are not for everybody but it is certainly a great tool to ensure that money directed for the catastrophically injured goes to their care, medical and rehabilitation.
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