IWSN: Empathy and action are desperately needed: Injured worker

One of our readers at Injured Workers Support Network (IWSN) and A Workcover Victims Diary contributor, has taken considerable care in presenting feedback to the IWSN on how we can better support injured workers.  It is well worth sharing. You can be assured ‘Will’ that your ideas are valued.

Will writes:

Here is my take on the Workers Compensation system and how Injured Workers and the IWSN can help each other.

Entering the Workers Compensation system is not a place where one will find a lot of compassion and support. The effects of being on workers compensation can be severe and are not limited to the actual injury sustained in the workplace. Reporting an injury can and will usually be treated with suspicion and blame placed on the injured worker.  Hostility, Ignorance & Frustration are some of the strengths the Insurer and Employer will use against the injured worker in the hope of closing the claim as soon as possible.

An injured worker can develop deep feelings of Fear & Uncertainty which progress by  loss of income, loss of being self-reliant and a sense of providing for one’s family. Deep Feelings of Guilt & Shame can progress as being seen by Employer, other Employees, Insurer and by the opinions of others, who can often view workers compensation recipients as looking for an easy ride. Anger & Frustration can progress due to the lack of empathy and at times open hostility shown via Employer, Insurance Co & RTW Coordinator & IME’s.

The longer an Injured Worker is in the Workers Compensation system the worse the experience can be these feelings along with a sense of isolation can become toxic.  The injured worker often finds themselves in a position of hopelessness and the use of Alcohol and or Drugs may increase to suppress these feelings. Coupled with Families affected by this system which can become dysfunctional and lead to the break down of the family unit.

To fully understand the impacts of the system you have to be in the system either directly or indirectly as a family member, girlfriend, boyfriend and so on. Injured workers connecting and sharing their experiences on a regular basis may help ease the feelings associated through isolation and frustration. This can be done through the IWSN holding regular support meetings where people can feel safe to express their feelings and concerns with others who are in the same position. Once people start listening and relating to one and other further contact among themselves should be encouraged. A simple phone call or catch up over coffee can make a lot of difference to someone who may be isolated and disconnected from others.

The IWSN needs strong advocates who can relate to injured workers via direct or indirect experience. Additional forms of support can be regular contact via email, phone, internet and also by having guest speakers attending the support meetings from other organisations be it Unions or MP’s. The  IWSN  can also be used a point of support for insurance related enquiries, this may help injured workers from being bullied & manipulated by case managers and their employers. The effects of IME’s can even be addressed for example, an injured worker attending an IME  with another injured worker or IWSN support person will take away the isolation and frustration that these appointments can have.

Please remember I am not a Rhodes Scholar or anything like that I just thought I would have a stab at it as the more suggestions there are from someone in the system the better.  Any advice or information that you can provide on what I have mentioned please feel free to do so.




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15 Responses to “IWSN: Empathy and action are desperately needed: Injured worker”

  1. Id be happy to help Phil

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  2. Great suggestions Will. I found that the isolation that Workover introduced me to was one of the hardest things to bear – apart from the financial abuse and acquiring two mental illnesses in my 50’s. Many of my friends found listening to my constant complaints about the system too difficult, so they stopped dropping by to see me. Constant retriggering of the post traumatic stress disorder caused me to self isolate as well. Previously I had been a very social person, always living and working communally, and I had an busy life as a social justice and union activist. Now I can’t easily go near a croawd, or even get on public transport without taking a beta blocker to stop the panic attacks.
    That’s why I’m so pleased to find aninjuredworkersdiary, as it has cut that feeling of isolation, and every day when I open up my email account I am reminded that I am not alone, that there are many feisty courageous human beings now becoming part of my daily life.

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  3. Please advise. At bottom of biggest blackest hole. 52yrs/30 at work. 2007 back broken & left in lifelong pain. Able to work thru Positvity and Cognitive. 2011-2012 today. Too much for little old lady. Totally isolated as Family friends colleagues CAN’T get heads Tround HOW/why etc either can I???feel totally beaten up.cry.dont go out. Lost confidence completely. Spend day hiding in van crying apologising to my beautiful 13yr old. Saying sorry sorry I don’t know what to do?? Have always had family. Feel like useless/stupid/no home/nothing left. Started cigarettes30+. Haven a clue how anyone could push me/anyone this far?? All my documents were stored at “a friends”-putting on tip. No one cares I spend day looking on google+twitter to see if anyone cares/wants to know me/ all because he assaulted me & a “friend” wrote letters(very well I had PTSD n. pretending it’s not back. It last attack…by IMA accusing “little miss never does anything wrong… Boring.” of yet some wild accusation has broken any resolve. My existence DEEMED UNNECCESSARY USELESS BLAH Blah please make my story ppublic for my girl..she do confused as to why people so horrid as I can’t explain it either. I thought principals were not allowed to do what he did???

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    • Christine, so sorry things are so bad for you and for your child. My son was only 11 when workplace bullying drove me into Major Depression and suicidality and later diagnosed with PTSD. The effects of my workplace injury on him and his development are still playing out.
      From your description you definitely have PTSD and probably major depression too. These mental illnesses can be caused and/or exacerbated by being on Workover. (I refuse to call it Workcover, as once you’re in the system you definitely get a major aggressive workover from the insurers and in all likelihood your working days are definitely over).
      I hope you are getting some help from a psychologist and a decent psychiatrist. You need some support and time for you. You can get this through Medicare if you are not able to have the fight with the adversarial insurers. Make it a first priority as you are no use to anyone until you are able to feel a bit better in yourself. It is not your fault, but unfortunately you are the only one who can take the steps to start to make things better for yourself.
      The system is horrid because so many parts of it and people within it are desperate to make a profit from their activities. The easiest way for them to do this is by bullying the most vulnerable i.e. us, the injured workers.

      Take care of yourself. Find a good supportive psychologist if you haven’t already done so. My heart goes out to you, I know the pain you are feeling. It can get better.

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      • I agree with Pauline and that is that your health is a priority and should always be a priority – so please seek psychological/psychiatric support asap. No-one can put up with what you are going through on your own. If workcover does not pay for it get it under a mental health care plan.
        Re making your story public, you would have to make all facts public, incl documents/evidence of wrongdoing (to have an impact) – if not we are concerned that publishing your story may lead you to be further ambushed, bullied or even threatened (as appeared to have happened a few weeks ago).
        We’re thinking of you and please seek psych support, also for the sake of your daughter.

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        workcovervictim3 August 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm
      • Keep us informed Christine. Now that I know something of your story ! will be thinking of you and wondering about your welfare. You said you were homeless, me too. I can’t live with other people as my PTSD has so many triggers, and i can’t afford to rent a suitable place on my own in the private rental market. And…public housing in victoria is at the kind of crisis point were those like me who are registeredd as homeless, and accorded priority one, are told we have 5 or 6 years to wait before housing will be available! Fortunately for me, my son is now 20 and is able to live with his dad. Also fortunately for me my friends who’ve stayed the course with me all offer me rooms in their homes when i need a bed, and the rest of the time i do house sits. My quality of survival is patchy, with chronic triggering of my psych injuries, but I am surviving. What are you doing for accommodation for you and your daughter? Lack of personal space and “safety” is not good for your mental health.

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  4. At the end of the day, an injured worker helping another injured worker is something that the legislation will never be able to take from us.

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  5. I hope all involved with insurance companies and their legal teams feel proud of the work they do. A certificate of determination published today on the NSW Workers Compensation Commission website shows that they do not understand injured workers and their families go through.

    An injured fire fighter ended his life and the employer and insurance company tried to deny it was connected with his injury. The injured workers family had been through enough and still had to go through it all to fight for their rights.

    On the 11 or 12 september 2008 he ended his struggle. 30 July 2012 determination was settled by an arbitrator. I near bet that the injured workers wife is still waiting for payment.

    These scum live because of the sweat and blood that earlier Australians shed. I am sure if some of the early soldiers and workers got out of their graves they would be disgusted that they worked, fought and some died for freedom and better lives for all Australians.


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  6. So many of you. I am so very very very grateful. Today YOU & VICTIMS DIARY SAVED A LIFE xxxoooxxx I am / I will try to go forward. No income & back of beyond, so worried I was going to stop. Stop. Too much RUBBISH FOR TOO LONG. Little country lady scared of everyone. All in a 6 month final battering. I just cannot find any worth in myself, after 30 yrs, what on earth do they want? Destroyed home EVERYTHING…..not fair not right and I thank you all for showing a very broken old mum some Care & Empathy. I hope you all are triply blessed. Thankyou xxxq

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    • Good for you Christine. Keep going. I have been suicidal so often, and still slip into that morass from time to time when the insurance sharks are circling. Just remember that it is not your fault, these predatory profit makers are the ones making our lives a mess. Keep remembering that your daughter needs you, that you are not alone and that you can stay strong. Get on the site whenever you feel overwhelmed and let us know how we can help.

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      • As I wrote on our “About” page: I dedicate this site to all injured workers who have been abused by the adversarial workcover compensation system and/or the workplace. May they never give up, may they fight like warrior for their legitimate rights, and, most importantly, may they hold onto their dignity, self-respect, self-esteem and sanity; and may they WIN!

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    • Hi Christine,
      I hope you’re doing ok. Am a bit worried as there’s been no posts from you for a while now. Last week was pretty difficult for the site with the internet attacks from Workover, so maybe you had trouble accessing it.
      Just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you.

      Try not to let the turkeys get you down. Reach out when you need some sense and compassion in your life. Things can change even when they are really bleak.

      Solidarity and best wishes to you.

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  7. Hello Pauline & all you magnificent EMPATHETIC humans who are the ‘soul’ of this diary,
    Yep, I’m sorry to say I survive simply in the hope another simply asks if I’m ok? Pauline, I cried at your kindness, I am so very grateful you offer a hand/ a lifeline. Like yrself, I am so ALONE, I’m scared I will upset my girl, everyday I’m worried for her well being. This latest ‘character assignation’, broke all my faith in any TRUTH OR JUSTICE..my girl cannot grasp any attack on my ‘autoplastic’ values. I have reared all 3 to be women who value others, to pass gossip as such, to do their best, to GIVE GIVE GIVE,to be honest in all they do, to judge no one and respect all.
    I am scared stiff. I have never been involved with Anything in lawful in 52yrs. I’m now defending myself against an accusation made by the AREA dept ed where assault took place. One bit of attack after attack. Why cannot anyone see that this latest( soul/body/person destroy ATTACK is just another attempt to COVER UP & kill me?? This is all because I WANTED to RTW & maintained 7 weeks with NO PROBLEMS…worker destroyed for WANTING TO WORK???? So many lies by Dept Educ to cover assault, then 15 months of intimidation/IMES & stopping a RTW for months, then I’m a criminal.??? I have worked all my life reared a family & helped so many students to be driven to I’LL HEALTH, loneliness, inability to comprehend how/why this cruelty ?is MY END DAYS??? I am so sad so messed up so hurt that no one NO ONE (except u) cared or helped a little, ordinary lady who thought just 2 yrs ago: hey I might have a buggered back but I can still hold my head up knowing I was contributing to our future generations. I’m nothing now. Nothing. My RTW denied for months. My family once proud barely call/never call and the people I sat next to, lent my float& 4WD make fun of getting away WITH IT on Facebook. Their families, homes, jobs are fine and there is nil none remorse for destroying all my life’s work. All I wanted was to remain doing what I do best, teaching. Now I cannot look my girl in the eye without crying. I cannot explain why they are so vicious? She gets so upset and I cannot explain why a person like me is being treated this way?? Can you?? She thought I was wonderful and now she is confused as she cannot understand how a boringly honest mummy is being attacked like a criminal??? I am ashamed I worked and taught my stupid values and now HOW ON EARTH DO I EXPLAIN WHY THESE PEOPLE FROM BATEMANS BAY, a tiny town are so mean to cause my death???why why why for my girl tell me why???

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    • Keep hanging in there Christine. You sound like you’ve been hit by a juggernaut – exactly how i felt for more than a year after my breakdown began. Workplace bullying, chronic pain, and then the Workover, it all prolongs and adds to the intensity of our injuries. I found a good psychologist who really helped me hang on in there. That said, I have had to fight bouts of suicidal depression many times in the 10 years I’ve been in the Workover. It’s such a cruel and torturous system it’s no wonder it keeps so many of us sick and injured.
      It’s crucial that you have support and start getting some relief from the anxiety and grief you are feeling. You need someone who can be there for you and help keep you focussed on getting better and being the best you can be for your girls.
      Keep spending time on this site too. I’m sure my mood has lifted some since I got involved. Reading other people’s stories helps mine make sense and makes me realise I’m not alone in my sufferings and discomforts. Life doesn’t seem so lonely and isolated anymore.

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    • PS Christine,
      If you haven’t already done so, get a lawyer to protect you from these attacks on your character. This is not something you should put up. Don’t believe that you are in the wrong just because there is a mob against you. It sounds like you are being subjected to a bullying phenomenon known as “workplace mobbing”. It’s the worst kind of workplace bullying. Check out the internet for some reading, there are some excellent sites dealing with this issue. It can and does make people very, very sick. Good luck, and keep in touch.

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