Workers Compensation: Time To Take a Stand

“Workers Compensation: Time To Take a Stand” is an enlightening paper written by John McPhilbin, an injured worker. This paper is aimed at addressing many of the incorrect assumptions that drive current legislation and policies for workers compensation in Australia, as well as recommend essential changes. John is fighting for a worthy cause: injured worker wants to see change!

Workers Compensation: Time To Take a Stand

In 2003, John McPhilbin, was forced onto workers compensation as a result of a workplace injury.  His claim was initially declined and he was forced to fight for basic entitlement through the Workers Compensation Commission.  He was successful in winning his case, however, that was only the beginning of his nightmare.  Despite suffering from major depression as a result of his ordeal, he received little help from the insurance company. It took the insurance company, even after years of lobbying NSW politicians for help, to provide John with the support he desperately needed. He was left with very little support from the system for 6 years.

John states “ I was left to languish for  far  too long and I almost lost  everything as a result, I even contemplated suicide on my darkest days.

The system is not designed to meet the real needs of injured workers and their families, in fact it only adds insult to injury. He is currently completing a degree in applied social science, majoring in management, and intends to pursue a career in helping to change the current system to better aid injured workers and their families get the care and justice they need and deserve. [What an inspiration you are, John!]

This paper is aimed at addressing many of the incorrect assumptions that drive current legislation and policies for workers compensation in Australia, as well as recommend essential changes.

The  rationale  being used by federal and state  governments’ simply cannot justify unfair levels of compensation currently available to injured workers and their families.  The failure of worker compensation schemes to adequately provide protections for injured workers and their families has a significant cost to communities and the economy as a whole.   The protection of employers from the true costs associated with workers compensation and rehabilitation has led to a moral hazard, in which the downside risks associated with non-compliance concerning the health and wellbeing of workers is minimal. The real failure is clearly related to the failure of current schemes along with the lack of any real accountability by employers for protecting the health and wellbeing of workers….



If you prefer, you can [popup url=’ ‘ ]read John’s paper in a popup window[/popup]


 Thank you John for sharing this most interesting, well written and extremely well thought out paper 🙂 It is our sincere hope that this paper is brought to the immediate attention of Mr Barry O’Farrell and like-minded people, who believe that slashing of workers comp “benefits” to immensely struggling, poverty-stricken and extremely vulnerable people is the answer. Like John, we have very grave concerns that any cutting for “benefits” will tip many injured workers “over the edge” – and this, folks,  is nothing but murder!






11 Responses to “Workers Compensation: Time To Take a Stand”

  1. @Tez – yes please, just email me your story – thanks 🙂

    workcovervictim April 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm
  2. Thank you both for sharing your invaluable comments!

    And yes, what does this mean folks, it is time to stand up and YELL – silence is NOT an option and – as Erin Brockovich told me – I encourage every single one of you [injured workers] to publicly share your experiences and stories about the way you have been or are being treated by the workcover system. Silence has never ever been written down. If it’s not published or knows, it simply did not happen and that it why insurance companies and such an outdated system (who by the way still uses a middle-aged butchers table of maims)  get away with what they are doing!

    There is NO reason to be scared of workcover reprisals or anything like that – on the contrary, chances are that you will start being treated with some respect!

    Share your stories and experiences with us, please. Remember that you can also do so via anonymous email through the share your story page. Rest assured that your confidential information is secure with us and that we will never ever publish any identifying information if you prefer not to.

    PS @grathom, thank you for sharing your documents, we will publish soon and ensure confidentiality.

    workcovervictim April 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm
    • WorkCoverVictim

      Silence is deadly, quite literally.  The best way of coping, I believe is to remain open and positive regardless of the obstacles (not always easy) but very necessary. Don’t let the system beat you into submission.  The system is mindless and the only way to really take it on is to do it mindfully.   Ellen Langer is an inspiration – her research is going to be made into a movie and Cameron Diaz will play her.  She is an extremely important and inspirational figure in modern psychology.

      Professor Ellen Langer on Leadership and Mindfulness (2011)

      Kind regards

      John Mc


      John McPhilbin April 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm
  3. Soula

    Just one more thing – the system as I see it – routinely bullies injured workers and the impact of this bullying can be deadly – I first had to stand up to bullies in my work environment then in the workers comp system – meaning the insurers. Linda, in this case (refer below) copped it from her employer and the insurer – the end result was suicide.

    When John McPhilbin strode to the microphone at the Sydney Opera House last month he was a nervous man.

    McPhilbin, a former soldier who had undergone interrogation training, had come to tell how systematic bullying at Chubb Security had destroyed his physical and psychological health.

    The Opera House conference had been called by the NSW Labor Council to tackle the problem of bullying at work.

    McPhilbin, who blew the whistle on bullying at the security firm, dedicated his speech to the family of Linda Costa, who committed suicide after bullying and harassment at the Speedo factory in Windsor.

    Linda’s two daughters, Aimee and Melissa, attended the conference and told of the need for the perpetrators of bullying to be prosecuted.

    “Our mum is dead as a result of bullying,” says Aimee Costa. “But we want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

    Kind regards

    John Mc

  4. Wow, this is great news. If you need a case study of how the system fails to support neuropathic pain/chronic pain let me know. My treatment has been appalling.

    After over 5 years though I have learnt not to blame anyone other than our Government and its outdated system. It doesn’t work for injured workers, employers or tax payers.

    We all either sign up or contribute through our taxes (or both!), for ‘protection’ that is in fact out of date, a service that doesn’t actually update its resources abiding by acts from the 1980’s. In fact aren’t our occ physicians training from a work/health act of 1958????

    WorkSafe Ministers, Prime Minister, anyone in Government, would you visit a doctor who’s knowledge and experience dated no further than 1985? And what treatment do you imagine you’d get? Would you pay for any service that was that dated?

    It’s funny to think of the fines companies would get from our Government, (let’s use communication companies like Optus or Telstra), if they provided the public with a service level updated to 1985. But yet it seems ok for WorkSafe Agents to give injured worker’s a health service that is out of date?

    Hmmmm. lovely!

    ps i couldn’t download the pdf


    • Soula

      Please know that you are an ordinary person caught up in an extraordinarily unfair situation.  I suspect that so much pain and anguish is caused by injured workers feeling they are the problem instead of realising it is the system that is dysfunctional.  I have often thought that perhaps I was the problem – it simply isn’t the case.

      I hope this paper offers you a healthier perspective .

      Kind regards

      John Mc

      • hello john,

        i’ve learned alot in this system and one of the main things is that I’M NOT THE PROBLEM. Don’t worry about that. It’s sad though, to hear how other injured workers speak and that they do feel they are the problem. This is one of the factors that have contributed to the system getting away with the poor service, people are too scared to speak, they’ll be judged. And in fact, in the system THEY ARE. The system gives authority to Agents and Medical Examiners to judge us and turn us away… what choice do we have? Will I take my insurer to court? Do I have 20k to start the process? Conciliators, examiners, agents all know no injured worker can part with that money. I’ve said this before. We are all treated guilty until we prove our innocence. What a backward system.

        Thank you for your reply and your work. i’ll somehow get the pdf and add it to my website too if that’s ok.

        Good luck John

        • Hi Soula

          It really is a war of attrition and employers and insurers know that they have all the resources and power at their disposal.  This is one of the main reasons I am really passionate about this cause – it really is worth fighting for.    Please feel free use the document in any way you can think of – if it helps.

          I am a whistleblower by nature, however, I can understand why so many injured workers feel afraid or reluctant to fight back – it’s an unfair fight to begin with – I would like to even the playing field and even tip it in favour of injured workers.

          Whistleblower Beats Bullies

          Keep up the fight

          John Mc

        • Soula, we have emailed you John’s article. Not sure why you are unable to “save as” from the first window…? Works fine on our end.

          workcovervictim3 April 27, 2012 at 1:58 pm
  5. I am hoping to the have this paper tabled in NSW Parliament in the next month or so.  The Government have asked for submissions and I think this gets to the heart of the whole dysfunctional system – not only in NSW but across Australia.   Please feel free to use the research and ideas ( especially for reforms) for whatever state you live in.  Injured workers and across state lines really need to unite on this issue.

    Yours in unity

    John Mc