Disillusioned workcover rehabilitation clinician’s speaks out

An anonymous rehabilitation service provider clinician, who undertakes many injured workcover victims rehabilitation and vocational assessments on behalf of various workcover insurance agencies, has kindly (thank you!) shared her/his insights in dealing with workcover case managers via our “share a story” page.

Here is his/her story about his/her experience in dealing with workcover case managers.

Disillusioned workcover rehabilitation clinician speaks out

I work as a clinician for a workcover approved  injury rehabilitation service provider. I work with injured workers on a daily basis, and can assure you that I implement only the very best rehabilitation plans for all of them. I believe that all my rehabilitation-related decisions are (and have been) extremely fair, and I am able to sleep soundly knowing that I have tried my very best each and every day to assist injured workcover victims, with the aim to get them back to work at an appropriate time (when they are ready) and in a safe and sustainable manner.

The  main issue I face on a daily basis  is working with or for the workcover insurance case managers. What is most challenging is their jaded , cynical and apathetic attitudes. I am pretty certain that most (if not all) workcover case managers are between the age of 35 – 50 and female. By their anger, frustration  and sheer resentment (on the phone) I wouldn’t be surprised if they are also divorced and extremely bitter.

The  main problem -as I see it- is that those case managers — apart having no education regarding injuries and rehabilitation, or even basic knowledge of medical terms and even anatomy — have probably or possibly seen , what they believe to be – too  many “fraudulent” workcover claims and unfortunately have let these very rare ones [where the injured worker was perhaps dishonest] affect their ability to give others a fair chance. Those workcover case managers have become and are  biased beyond belief and, as mentioned in several of your articles and comments, they have separated themselves from the reality of the situation and how their power can destroy ones life.

I am and have been truly appalled by the fact that those workcover case managers, who carry themselves with lack of basic professionalism and with utter and absolute ignorance, do not need to have any basic medical knowledge, but yet are allowed to  make drastic and life changing decisions for injured workers whilst  not needing to even understand the difference between an arm and a leg! How can that be?

Workcover rehabilitation… what’s the point?

I have, most unfortunately, seen first hand how this injustice takes place. There are many workcover case managers who will spend more time and effort  [read do everything possible ] trying to find ways to close a claim and determine the injury a “non compensable injury”, or “deny that MRI/treatment/surgery “,  rather than actually spending time trying to assist the injured worker.

After a rehabilitation session(s),  it is my job to make appropriate recommendations for the injured worker. My recommendations are thus based on how the injured worker progresses, based on their medical findings (IE: injury and status of injury/injuries) and based on their inherent job requirements. Often this will include my [professional] request for further medical investigations/tests be done.

However, I often [read several times per day] will have the workcover case managers literally yell at me on the phone and/or even swear at me as they become so angry – so angry and frustrated that they can’t yet close the claim (or not achieve their financial bonus). And, whats worse, in the end, the workcover case manager will (most often) NOT adhere to the recommendations made by the [rehabilitation] treatment team, but will rather do what they feel is appropriate and of course – based on what is more cost effective,in their non-educated opinions. In fact, and perhaps ironically, their unfounded and plain wrong decisions will most often cost the workcover insurer much more money in the end!

In summary, workcover insurance companies are businesses solely focuses on dollars and cents. They really could not care less about an injured “worker” (as they call them).

I am so frustrated and I feel so powerless, that I am currently looking for a new employer; one where I can practice injury rehabilitation and really make a positive difference in other peoples’ lives without having to interact with such immoral and most unethical workcover case managers. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried and tried and tried and I do want to make a positive difference in work injured people lives, but I can’t, because those workcover case managers won’t let me. This hurts me terribly and I find it hard to work for an employer that “chooses” to “let this happen”, although I know – deep down- that we [our company] are utterly powerless. And so it is that the very best rehab service clinicians just end up walking away from a “dirty” business, leaving only but the “least competent” clinicians behind, who obviously have no “problem” with such an unjust “system” and work practice. Some will even “adjust” their rehab plans for injured workers, as not to be yelled and sworn at every day by those monstrosities [work cover case managers].

Thank you for sharing this story with your readers. My hope is that my story will empower those injured “workers” enough to finally stand up, voice their opinions and find the necessary strength and courage to fight for a real change. You all [injured worcover victims] are ‘that government”, you all are strong in numbers, please do something about it and fight for your rights and for a just system, please.



7 Responses to “Disillusioned workcover rehabilitation clinician’s speaks out”

  1. It’s not “us” that needs representing — it’s the apathetic masses who are disillusioned with the political process, and have elected to give up their power to a coin-toss on two “both the same” abusive governmental agencies acting like corporations lining their own pockets.  Less dramatically than in the US, for sure, but probably moreso “per head of population” — but that’s my wild speculation, not fact, lets be clear.

    I’m not talking about some kind of conspiracy, I’m talking about the way the world actually currently works.

    The people being ripped off aren’t “injured people” — it’s everyone, people who pay for insurance, and are duped into purchasing a faulty product.  If they ever need to claim, they’ll be screwed out of what they think they paid for — misleading, and deceptive conduct, at a scale which makes “419 scammers” seem like totally unsophisticated losers.  (and they reportedly earn nigeria 77% of it’s GDP*)

    This isn’t an issue for injured workers, or accident victims, it’s a social issue, for everyone.  We all need to stand up, and demand to have the incentives removed that predict this predatory behaviour.  Individuals have no realistic legal recourse, and are unable to ilicit legislative change individually.  But it’s not just the fact that victims themselves can’t fix this without help from soceity at large that makes me state that it’s a social problem.   It’s all the insane incentive structures that are created, often for the purposes of “redistributing wealth” (and often to the pockets of relations, friends, family, trusts or even direct holdings).

    There needs to be an urgent royal commission into the systemic corruption that’s perpetrated on the public by the government down through to the involvement of the media being a politically manipulable factor.   An independant media, with a penchant for investigative journalism over profits, is a _crucial_ feedback loop in a well run democracy.  Australia stands as one of the worst westernised countries on the independance of it’s media.  So it also needs investigation and restructuring.

    There’s also the failure of the market in general, in incentivising and allowing corporations to lobby and gain political power that vastly outstrips the people in the ability to lobby and negotiate change.  Is this a democracy, or a corporatocracy?   “The people” are disillusioned with the political process, becuause they should be — it’s a scam, they know it, and they’re sitting down, shutting up, and letting it happen, because making waves individually gets you thrown in a loony bin.   We all need to stand up together, and create these changes.

    There needs to be a third political party created, legitimised, and if not voted in for direct control by the people, to be there, privy to the secret negotiations, and reporting on them in the newly created unbiased media, and re-enabling “the people” to get re-engaged in the political process that creates our living and working conditions.

    I could set myself on fire on the steps of parliament a thousand times over, and it wouldn’t be enough to enact change.   Injured people are crying out, telling the world, and largely people are so busy being trapped “in the system” and believing what it tells them, all the subtle(ish) and incorrect PR that creates “public perceptions” of the worth of injured people, and how much compensation or assistance (and indeed, how much scorn and hostility) they deserve.   The villification of victims for profit should be considered directly criminal, and the board members, and politicians overseeing these comissions should be PERSONALLY LIABLE for allowing this compounding injustice and suffering to be perpetrated on AUSTRALIAN CITIZENS.

    Where’s our patriotism?   Where’s “land of young and free” ….    or “We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil”  – fair go for everday workers.   We’re in the midst of a market-based incentive system that forces corporations to increasingly strip “we the people” of our rights, and freedoms, and indeed our power and money, and “doles them out” like a tiny gift that we should be grateful of.   IT’S OUR COUNTRY.  We the people.  OURS.   We do not have to suffer these few hundred fools intent on precisely the opposite outcome to our national anthem.   Australians all, let us suffer, for we are old and poor.   We’ve salty soil, and endless toil”  … I could go on, but I digress.

    This must change.  We must change it.  We need new markets, with new rules for corporations.   Corporations should not have “human rights”  …. corporations should not be allowed to abuse the justice system for profit — only humans should have rights within the court, and corporations should always have individuals named as responsible within them.  Corporations must not be allowed near politics.   Accounting needs to be transparent, not slick PR driven financial reports – everything down to a transaction level, so sufficient checks and audits can be in place for companies abusing and “getting away with it” (which they’ve over time almost endlessly proved that they will if they can (though there are exceptions)).  Companies should also be subject to accounting for all externalities, so they can’t take advantage of “making the cost someone elses” while “the profit all theirs”  ….   Socialised schemes need to be clearly, and openly socialised – not “commercialised because of some esoteric “free market” efficiency arguemnt” which is when translated “I’ll make personal profit if I argue for free market, so I will” …  economists are tied up in the self-justification of the system that exists, and we need to evaluate the incentive systems it creates, and create new incentive systems and accounting methodologies to operate a country, and an economy that doesn’t create the problems in our society.    I’m not talking socialism here.   I’m not talking fully free market.   I’m talking well regulated market, with a clear deliniation, and incentives, transparency and enforced accounting auditing.   This stuff has been said for years — but people seem to be mislead, or “change the definition” to justify that the current system is good enough.   It’s not good enough, and it’s not good enough.

    It needs to change.

    It needs to change.  We have a moral responsibility as humans to change it.


  2. Petitions are akin to “asking nicely” – and the people you’d be asking are the ones who set the rules the way they are — they’re not going to listen without demand from the public.

    The public are “bombarded” with people with causes, so people now by default “say no” …   the trick is getting over that hurdle no1.

    The second hurdle, people are led to believe that “their vote” is something private, it’s theirs, never give it away, vote how you like, don’t be involved, just turn up on the day so you don’t get a fine.   People need to understand that they actually hold political power with each and every vote, and the issues they demand to be election promises can hold weight.   Unfortunatly too many people are worried about “what’s in it for them” and will never vote for insurance reform or more rights if it has a chance of costing them even a small amount more, even if it’s the right thing to do.   Need to get over the hurdle of “what if it happens to you” — that’s the point of insurance, big coverage for big (but rare) events, coverage for variance – not a drive for business model evolution, more profits & predictability, constant premiums or premiums in-line with CPI — variance coverage needs to cover variance, and needs to be socialised for social issues such as the basic rights we’ve established as baselines in this country, unlike poorer countries where there’s little or no safety net.

    People need to be convinced to “promise their vote will change” if this issue isn’t dealt with — and subsequently lobby each and every politician with “your competitors are doing this, they stand to gain x votes at your expense unless you also commit to implement it.  That way, the ideal situation is all politicans being forced to implement the legislative change, and people being able to vote for whoever they like when polling day comes around since everyones committed to the change.

    Reality, this is a lot of work, and we don’t have a “nurses union” to go into battle for us legally and politically.   Victims are already underfunded, under resourced and under-represented – by design.  We’re a minority group by definition.   And the PR campaign that workcover and TAC runs, basically means that as social beings, unless we sit down, shut up, and accept our piece, our friends and family will abandon us one by one because nobody wants to hear about the issues all the time, and it’s not their job to do anything about it, stop complaining.  End result, anyone who tries to change the system gets socially punished ON TOP of the systemic abuse for complaining about the lack of medical or financial assistance, and compounded by the systemic psychological abuse perpetrated on purpose to create a better negotiating position to force people into giving up and accepting “lowball” payouts, rather than their full legal entitlements.   If your friends agree, and join the fight, then when they start trying to tell all their friends, their friends perpetrate the same “stop it, or we won’t be your friend” abuse that everyone else tried on you — end result, they’re forced to choose between joining the fight, or having friends.  And that’s a powerful feedback loop, the PR campaign has worked wonders, and the individual actors in the system have no idea the system-wide effects, and they have justifications for their own behaviours that seem reasonable to them when the summation of those behaviours is a dramatically unfair result to the victims in question.

    My own parents refuse to sign something saying “important issue, is an election issue, this issue will change my vote” because they’ve been led to believe by the system that they can only vote liberal or labour, or their vote is wasted (false, proportional representation & preference system)  …. and that the decision between those two parties is ideological — ie, left/right …. socialist-working man vs capitalist, market/business man.   Which isn’t the way politics works — by perpetrating that myth on the public, largely it strips people of their political power, and concentrates it in a two party system, and guarantees minimial representation for any minority group.  Once again, Tyyrany of the majority.

    There are not so much laws against it, but it’s debatable enough that police make excuses to prevent it — if we can find enough people to have a thousand people turn up to hand out flyers on every street corner of the city, we could start developing some public awareness with the right message.  Needs to be a fast action, one day, suprise action, as there are very few protections for freedom of speach or public assembly in this country (as witnessed by people being forcibly dragged off the ‘occupy’ lines brutally by police, with little or no provocation.)  …  people in wheelchairs are harder to get away with physically abusing, also, which is to our advantage.

    Other than that, one can do what the everyone else seems to get away with, but shouldn’t, and that’s start organising surveilance of anyone connected to workcover or the TAC, hunt them down, dig up their dirt, and use it as a negotiating chip to force their behaviour.   But of course, I can’t condone this course of action (blackmail), as I want to live in a society where people do the right thing, the rules are simple and understandable, and enforced evenly, and people know what they are, and they’re not exploited or evolved over time.  Simple, basic rights/tradeoffs balancing society vs the individual.  Nothing more.   And blackmail while it might achieve the goal, makes it worse by corruption begetting corruption.   Unlike the saying, power doesn’t corrupt, unless you admit that power is only achieved through corruption.

    The other solution is starting a whole political party, and making grass-roots political campaigning, by the people, for the people – give them a third choice, legitimise it and have clear, and reasonable policies, balanced, explained, accounted for externalities, and extrapolated into the results for the long term future (rather than a 4 year political horizon).  Lots to like, but lots of work.   But there are a lot of passionate people out there interested in extinguishing the corruption of the current systems – look at the occupy movement – lots of great ideas, but there needs to be a mechanism by which it can be boiled down into clear and consistent sets of policies, a budget set, and the administrative processes worked out for managing the country, and possibly the world.  We can’t have an economy that relys on growth.  We can’t have one that externalises “natural resources’  … we can’t have a financial system based on debt, not on natural resources, not unless the resources are accounted for seperately, and at that point you’ve just created a new currency, and complexified the whole system dramatically.


    • Great comment/article, Ben! You definitely should be the one elected to represent us (injured people/workcover & TAC)! You have a very natural and strong sense of ‘leadership’ and you’re excellent at expressing yourself, the general issues and, without a doubt, of convincing people to stand up and to do something about this.

      But where does one start?


  3. Legislative change, through forcing politicians hands by changing “the peoples” votes is the only thing that can make a difference.

    We need to start collecting people who are “willing to change their vote” (especially in marginal seats) so we have something to negotiate with politicians with.

    Anyone have ideas?


    • The only way I can think of is gathering enough digital signatures (email addresses) on a petition, such as the one I have set up. Unfortunately NOBODY wants to sign!!!???? Scared of workcover insurance reprisals? Doesn’t make any sense… may as well be scared of writing a complaint to them!

      Writing a personal letter to the Minister is not going to help, many have tried. The letter would need at least 1000 signatures to have some ‘leverage’. We could set this up digitally as well, but we’ll face the same problem I guess, and that is that nobody out there wants to put their name or email on anything. I don’t get it 😉 but I can’t do anything on my own, that’s for sure !

      Any  other ideas?

  4. A tip: never ever agree to have IPAR Rehabilitation Services engaged for you on behalf of your workcover insurer (at least not in Vic). Their slogan reads “maximizing your potential” but SHOULD read “Minimizing your potential”. I say no more…

    Also dislillusioned November 29, 2011 at 9:57 am
  5. Thank you, “Disillusioned” for sharing your story with us. Although what you tell here is not new to me, I am extremely grateful that you have had the courage to put this is writing, this only further affirms our (many injured worker) suspicions and own disillusions re the workcover rehab and RTW process.

    I, as an example, have been repeatedly and prematurely forced back to return to work,but to the very same job that caused my injury. Needless to say that this RTW has just repeatedly aggravated my injury, for which I have had major surgery at least once a year for a period of 4 years. Until, my injury proved irreparable, then I was sacked of course and and now left with a life changing disability and no prospect to ever return to the workforce. It enrages me that I could have recovered reasonably well from my injury, had the rehab/case manager not forced me back to the same job, and forced me to totally damage my injured [limb]. You are right to state that in the end it will cost workcover a hell of a lot more…. in my case it cost them ongoing weekly payments (for the past 3 years) due to my inability (certified even by IMEs) to RTW, they also face a considerable payout for my resulting impairment (physical but also secondary psychiatric) and I am not even going to mention what it will cost them in my common law damages claim, now that I have been deemed “seriously injured”. It’s ridiculous.

    The worst bit is that I am now disabled!

    I commend your efforts though and wish there were more people like you on this planet. I wish you all the best with a new job.


    dislillusioned injured worker November 29, 2011 at 9:49 am