Women’s Experience of the Workers Compensation System


Thanks to our co-author ‘Trinny”,  we came across a phenomenological study undertaken to understand women’s experience of the workers compensation system in Queensland. Although the study was conducted in 2005, it is clear that nothing has changed and that the Study’s recommendations for improvements to the workers compensation system (QLD) was, again and of course, totally ignored. As Trinny comments: “why should the government change the smoke screen that is working for them? Workcover stigma. Clear the smoke and see what is truly behind it!”

Women’s Experience of the Workers Compensation System

Women’s Experience of the Workers Compensation System

By Jo Calvey and Janis Jansz

A phenomenological study was undertaken to understand women’s experience of the workers compensation system. Eleven women were interviewed. They ranged in age from twenty-five to sixty-five years and represented diverse socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. All women were from a non-indigenous background.

The initial question to women was “Can you tell me what it is like to be involved in the workers’ compensation system?”

The narratives were analysed and interpreted using Hycner’s (1985) phenomenological guidelines.

The knowledge embedded in the interviews, expressed through core stories and themes, was essential to making women’s voices visible and provide insight into service delivery based on women’s experiences and needs.

Four core themes were found:

  1. negative versus positive experiences, the workplace response and
  2. role in the process,
  3. women’s experiences of payouts, and
  4. reasons why women may not claim workers’ compensation.

Results at a glance:

  • The women indicated that the workers compensation process was a disincentive to making a claim.
  • WorkCover was viewed as siding with the employer,
  • bureaucratic in nature and lacking values associated with empathy, sympathy and caring.

Recommendations for improvements to the workers compensation system included:

  • to establish legal obligations and enforcement of occupational health and safety responsibilities to injured and to ill workers;
  • adoption of occupational health and safety values by employers;
  • change the attitudes of employers (recognising women as breadwinners and that workers are not disposable);
  • a single case manager to advocate for injured or ill workers;
  • recognition of mental and emotional consequences of an injury or illness;
  • provision of rehabilitation that recognises mental and emotional factors as well as the importance of family participation;
  • greater involvement of employers and employees in the rehabilitation process;
  • and finally, improved service delivery that involves consistency, ethics, clarity (regarding the WorkCover process for injured workers and employers), accountability and involvement of all parties.


Direct link to the study>>


Calvey, Jo and Jansz, Janis. 2005. Women’s Experience of the Workers’ Compensation System in Queensland.
Australian Journal of Social Issues. 40 (2): pp. 285-311.

2 Responses to “Women’s Experience of the Workers Compensation System”

  1. “The words which come to mind when I think of WorkCover are
    – Obstructive, destructive, bullies, hostile, uncooperative, antagonistic,grandiose, dictatorial, authoritative, fractionalised, unprofessional, egotistical, ill-prepared, poorly educated or prepared for the position, unsympathetic, unobjective, and blatant sympathisers of the employer.”

    I think this woman summarised it best!

    workcovervictim3 October 2, 2013 at 6:00 pm
    • @WCV3,

      I agree with your selection of nouns and adjectives describing WorkCover on a good day 🙂

      Too many expletives required to describe them on a bad day 🙂