Many injured workers don’t have the advantage of a rock solid support network


Over the past months, and more recently when I watched professional surfer Bethany Hamilton’s story, I can’t help but to have  noticed that there  is definitely a recurring theme on aworkcovervictimsdiary; and  it is centered on the one thing that technical application of the law, workcover regulations and claims management can not provide: support. Or more accurately, a rock solid support network for an injured worker.

Many injured workers don’t have the advantage of a rock solid support network

An injured worker needs support from professionals, from the employer, and likely most importantly, from family, in order to truly be successful in elevating above the misfortune that was handed to him or her from a work injury.

In workcover  terms we call this the biopsychosocial element – where biology intersects psychology and socialisation.

I know  though experience and interaction with countless injured workers, that family is a huge component to the wellness and recovery of an injured worker. Professionals and the employer play big parts too, but family support is the cornerstone.

It all came together for me when I was listening to Hamilton talk about the shark attack, the loss of her arm, growing up in a surfing family, her dedication to her dream of becoming a professional surfer and overcoming her disability – she has and had the steadfast and constant support of her family and the support of her sponsor/employer – Rip Curl, and kept coming back to this central theme – the importance of having a rock solid support network.

Interestingly, many of our injured readers, commentators and contributors also highlight how important it is to have support; that the injured worker feels that the “people behind the system” are there to ensure success after the incident that resulted in a workcover claim.

Many readers also tell us over and over again that, once they discovered aworkcovervictimsdiary, they feel that they’re “no longer alone”; and find some sort of support network, and a place where they are understood.

It struck me that Hamilton’s’ story had/has an element that many injured workers lack, and which is paramount over everything – family support. Just about every other sentence in her story was and is about the support of her mom, dad, brothers, and other family members and friends, and she even praised her employer, Rip Curl, for standing behind her through the ordeal, and thereafter.

This vital support and positive communications not only allowed her to deal with the loss of her arm, but to get back in the water one month after her shark attacks and then even go on to success in the surfing professional ranks.

The reality is that many injured workers don’t have that advantage.

The best they can have is the support of the people that become engaged in the recovery process, which should be the case manager, their doctors, and their employer. The reality is that the” whole claims management” can not and will not provide this much needed support, thereby dehumanising the injured worker.

Some injured workers are going to need more support than others. Some just need another person who will listen. Others need more material support.

Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson, the founder of the Work Injured Resource Connection and the Bags of Love programs in South Australia gets that. Her success in helping injured workers overcome their adversity and return to gainful employment isn’t about money, treatment or programs.

It is all about support – being there; providing the positive environment and emotional foundation that so many don’t otherwise have.

Employers are critical in this equation. For many, employment is not just a means to a living, but IS the living. Work defines who we are, whether you’re a professional surfer or a line worker in a factory.

It takes a huge commitment in time, energy and emotion to provide this support. Sometimes that’s not enough – but most of the time it’s what makes the difference between successfully returning someone to work or throw them to the Welfare purse.

We need to remember that workcover claims are uniquely individual. Every single claim is as different as is the person behind the claim.

I think that for most of those working in the workcover  industry the appeal comes down to making someone’s life better after an adverse event. But providing support appears to be too exhausting and too difficult within this adversarial, greedy system.

However, I have no doubt that if this vital, basic human support were given to injured workers, the rewards could be measured.

Every  injured worker needs support from professionals (doctors, psychologists, but also their case manager(s)), from the employer, and likely most importantly, from family, in order to truly be successful in recovering from the misfortune that was handed to him or her from an employment injury.

I truly believe if injured workers were treated with humanity, dignity, respect, compassion and empathy by their insurers, and if insurers could also offer basic support for the injured worker’s family or carer, i.e. in the form of counseling when things get though and rough (as they do!), many injured workers would be able to recover faster, keep their self-esteem, sanity and sense of humanity.

I am not aware of any formal studies on the impact of family support to workcover outcomes ….

… and I’m not sure how to incorporate this knowledge into the work injury recovery process. However I feel it would be worthwhile for our “researchers” to undertake some studies into the impact of family support to injured workers’ recovery and return to work!

I just know it’s a big part, and injured workers with big family support are very fortunate.

Injured worker Soula also emphasised her Theo (husband) treatment on A Current Affair. She said “he truly is my largest form of pain relief

For me personally, without my Tony’s unwavering support, I think I would be dead by now!


[Post dicated by workcovervictim and manually transcribed on WCV’s behalf]


6 Responses to “Many injured workers don’t have the advantage of a rock solid support network”

  1. The family and friends of injured workers are often the least in the process. Having to take up the extra workloads at home to help. Taking on the extra shifts, over time or jobs to make the ends meet. Overlooking their own personal and physical needs and abilities. When the home help is denied to the injured worker by the insurer. Then the injured worker is told “we think your family can do it”. Maybe someone can spare a thought for the 16 yr old kids and younger. Helping mum or Dad instead of mum or Dad doing for them. Missing out on family time and quality of life. The partner working two jobs risking their own health trying to make ends meets. Whilst workcover cut wages by increments. We’re not seeing the bigger picture.

  2. I support my husband one thousand percent.If I did not give him a shove from time to time these insurance workcover and rehab services bitch with her lies would have him a blithering mess in the corner.He is a hard working honest man the thing that gets him is the lies.He can’t abide liars.
    Neither can I. I certainly don’t let them get away with it. He has had a vocational assessment done by Rehab Services in Parramatta.Quite a few incorrect issues there.I have sent it back to her with the pre assessment attached and a list of incorrect times copied to the case worker cow and solicitor asking her to please correct it.
    Case worker called yesterday saying she received it and was waiting to hear back from Rehab Services.Hopefully they will fix it.
    If they are going to lie at least do it properly!!!
    This rehab person apparently has a degree in psychology and a dip in counselling.WTF!!
    Must have failed course…

    • Hey Leanne,

      The Rehab place is doing what they do best – distort the facts.

      What I found in my case, the misquotes, the twisted facts, date errors etc are NOT a mistake. It is laying the foundation for the next IME or their lawyer to quote the Rehab’s report as “fact”.

      One of the first IMEs incorrectly wrote my injury was on the other side of my body (maybe an innocent mistake?).Later down the track, another IME wrote “in Dr XXX’s report, FU even claimed he injured his other side”.

      This “claim” was then quoted in future reports – to make me look like a crook. That I didn’t know which side of my body was injured – WTF!!

      Well done, Leanne. NEVER sign anything unless you believe it is 100% correct.

      Give them hell – use their tactics against them (they don’t enjoy it 🙂

      • So any suggestions if you can’t get a pro bono lawyer and don’t have any money to pay for one? to take on these pieces of shit head on in the courts???.

        ................. October 17, 2013 at 5:24 pm
      • I copy everything and I read read and follow up….luckily my husband has scanned every bit of paper he has received or sent into his computer….backed up onto the external hard drive so he can go back and check….
        I hate it when people lie.We are expected to be honest and follow the directions and I expect the same from others.

  3. Once again WorkcoverVictim, you have nailed it.

    Without the support of my partner, I would have struggled with the bullshit and lies that is workers compensation.

    I can say that her support, along with my clinical psychologist, saved my life and there is still a flicker of hope that I will be able to get through to the other end of this dreadful system.

    Hopefully I will get the help I need to search for something that I will be able to do within the confines of my injuries.

    Thanks again for your insights and for providing this amazing website!