WorkCover SA tells “psychologically deranged” workers “they should just go and work for someone else”

Crazy Deranged Fool

As reported in today’s The Advertiser, WorkCover SA has bought in rapid-response teams and rigorous data analysis to identify fraud and problem areas as psychological claims for the effects “disrespectful behaviour” more than double in the last 12 months.

WorkCover SA has identified the growth in psychological claims, WorkCover’s most expensive category other than catastrophic physical injury. Workers compensation claims for mental stress grew by 68% since 2011.

About 50% of all psychological claims are rejected under the “reasonable management action” exclusion alone.

WorkCover SA CEO Greg McCarthy recommends “psychologically deranged” workers “should just go and work for someone else”.
What is it with WorkCover CEO’s around the country? Did they all attend the same training course in blunt and tactless speech?

WorkCover SA tells “psychologically deranged” workers “they should just go and work for someone else”

Psychologically damaged workers left in limbo for months by WorkCover

The Advertiser January 04, 2014
Business Editor Christopher Russell

AN ALARMING increase in claims for psychological injury has hit the over-burdened WorkCover SA budget.

Claims for the effects of “disrespectful behaviour” have more than doubled, costing WorkCover millions of dollars. Claims for “work pressure” also have soared.

The poorly run system has resulted in workers sitting at home for up to four months waiting for their claims to be assessed, with no treatment or return-to-work plans.

A new management team has introduced measures to rein in costs and speed up processing of both psychological and physical injury claims.

However, chief executive Greg McCarthy admitted there was no hope of tackling the scheme’s political football – the $1.37 billion unfunded liability – without major reforms by government.

“At the end of the day, it is an insurance business and you need to run it as one,” he said.

“You could say that it’s been run as a welfare scheme – and that’s the problem.”

Mr McCarthy has brought in rapid-response teams and rigorous data analysis to identify fraud and problem areas.

But it will take up to five years to reach break-even let alone reduce the liability, he said in his first interview since taking charge a year ago.

Industrial Relations Minister John Rau, who says the scheme is “buggered”, has pledged to publish a reform plan within weeks.

Mr McCarthy’s team identified the growth in psychological claims, WorkCover’s most expensive category other than catastrophic physical injury.

“The data tells us there is clearly a problem here,” said general manager insurance Rob Cordiner.

Mental stress cases that entered the books in 2010-11 had cost $24.1 million by October this year, 49 per cent more than cases from the year before over an equivalent period. Payments grew another 7 per cent for 2011-12 cases and a further 12 per cent for 2012-13 cases.

Once a claim is lodged, WorkCover orders an independent medical assessment and takes statements from the employer, worker and co-workers – a four-month process.

“In that time, the worker’s being paid but nothing’s happening with the worker, the treatment or anything,” Mr Cordiner said. “It’s just an investigation as to whether they should be paid or not.”

WorkCover pays the substitute wage, which is not recoverable even if the claim is rejected. To streamline this, investigators now gather basic facts within five days and specialist medical practices report within 10 days.

About half of psychological claims are rejected because they are based on what reasonable action was taken by bosses.

Mr McCarthy said the aim was to support the injured worker and employer and let them get on with their lives.

“At the moment, by the time they’re three to four months down the track if they weren’t psychologically deranged before, they are now,” he said.

Getting workers off the compensation system also was problematic. After recovery, they often did not want to return to the same workplace.

“We end up with an insoluble problem that costs a lot of money,” Mr Cordiner said.

“It’s really an industrial issue, they should just go and work for someone else.”



Madame-Zena-author[Post & commentary by Co-Author Madame Zena]

Revised May 2014


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81 Responses to “WorkCover SA tells “psychologically deranged” workers “they should just go and work for someone else””

  1. I believe there is an alarming growth in the overuse and misuse of the term “bullying”. I do believe that this term is so overused that it is actually creating an environment of apathy and desensitization. I do feel we have a responsibility to stop this growing trend in its tracks and set people right on the very real and horribly damaging nature and consequences of bullying. However, to classify every incident as bullying is extremely counterproductive. It essentially waters down the impact of the term bullying which should be reserved for serious cases of repeated aggression. Overuse of the term bullying leads to a general desensitization of the term. It will get to the point it is no longer treated with the seriousness, care and intense diligence it needs to be. This in turn will further victimise those who are truly suffering due to bullying.

    Everything is bullying today. The word’s becoming near meaningless from overuse. The word “bully” is starting to get tossed around the way real estate agents use the phrase “must-see”. If we’re not careful “bully” will become just as meaningless. We can’t let that happen. We can’t let “bully” become a catch-all for every unkind word or act or inter-personal conflict.

    Opportunists have adopted the term in a crass attempt to delegitimize everything and anyone they oppose or don’t agree with, every slight or criticism against them or any conflict or quarrel they are involved in. The abusers of the term “bully” — the bully-bullies — seem unconcerned with how the misuse of the term makes them look.

    We cannot or should not define every perceived unkind word, criticism or slight against us or everything another does that we don’t like or agree with or every conflict or disagreement as bullying since the word “bullying” will become meaningless. If someone does not like being around a certain person due to his biting adjectives, delete him from your life. We have the freedom to associate with and work with people we choose. Individuals have more power than they realise. Disassociating yourself from anyone who shows she is incompatible with you or is mean spirited should be done as soon as you realise it. It is better through one’s own efforts to disconnect from a toxic person or workplace than expecting or having government make everything and anything a crime and resolve every conflict, quarrel, disagreement on your behalf.

    The people hurt most by the overuse of “bullying,” are the people most desperate for a solution, those in the midst of very real, traumatic instances of bullying, people’s whose pain will be overlooked in the crush of bullying reports and claims. Being physically threatened, deliberately isolated, tormented and laughed at cruelly every single day can be devastating socially and workwise, because the target must both endure the present and constantly dread the future. It’s this unrelenting cruelty and the callous nature of such an environment that is watered down when we include every slight, criticism, conflict or quarrel under the bullying rubric.

    If everyone’s a victim, then no one’s a victim.

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  2. Well said Madame Zena!

    Anyone on workers compensation longer than 3 months know all about bullying!

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    • so FU_CGU just cause you got your claim accepted your bullying is legit but mine bullying isn’t cause my bullying claim was fraudulently denied. its the bullying victims who get their claims fraudently denied that are the REAL victims of bullying and know what REAL suffering is, not those that sit from the comfort of being on workcover.

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      • WTF?!
        @Diane did @FU_CGU actually say that? NO. Read!

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      • @Diane,

        My my, what wonderfully generous and empathetic little shit you are!

        Diane is the only person in the world that has suffered anything!

        I’ll give you a little bit free advice (small enough so that even you may be able to comprehend it – mind you, if your last reply is any guide, maybe not), most of the well crafted replies, and the odd humorous comments, on this blog are by seriously injured workers. The reason we bother to reply is because we want to help those who are at the beginning of their workcover nightmare.

        Now, my claim is NOT a bullying claim. I have experienced some pretty nasty bullying in previous employment – I chose to leave those employers to avoid the bullying.

        The bullying practices of workcover rehab providers, IMEs, and case managers take bullying to a whole new level – and the bullying has greater impact because they are dealing with damaged individuals and they have total control over your finances, your treatment – everything!

        Diane, I think you should keep pursuing justice (you will never get it, as it does not exist in workcover) take everyone to court and sue the arses off them. You will probably lose your case and be up for hundreds of thousands of dollars (yes, $250,000 upwards).

        At least then, you will have more reasons to play the eternal victim.

        Just fuck off to your miserable bitter life and leave us all alone.

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        • @Diane – your comments are becoming very insulting and no longer acceptable on this blog. From now on you will no longer be able to freely comment (your comments will go into the moderators queue). Any further public assault will see you banned from this site. Pull your head in.

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          workcovervictim3 January 14, 2014 at 11:23 pm
      • I’m new to this process, so if my comment is not correct then please feel free to correct. For future users to use.


        Have you submitted a claim with the FWC? You can still submit a claim to them for the bullying to stop even if your WC claim was rejected. Your WC claim is for weekly payments and to cover any medical expenses correct? The WC claim rejection does not mean that you were in fact not bullied at work. The claim is for what has happened as a result of the bullying. If you are still employed by your employer where the bullying is taken place then you can submit a SBO online with the FWC.

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    • Overusing the term “bullying”
      Found this website/blog from Oct 2013

      There can be little doubt that bullying is a very nasty business. Hardly a day goes by where we do not hear about a new case of bullying in the news which has in turn led to very tragic consequences. Indeed, bullying is no mere children’s game and it is a driving force leading to an alarming increase in mental health issues for kids and teens, including self harm and suicide. I have written extensively in the past about the causes and effects of bullying and cyberbullying, and how parents and educators can address these issues. That is not my intention in this post today however. Instead, I wish to draw attention to an alarming growth in the overuse and misuse of the term “bullying”. I do believe that this term is so overused that it is actually creating an environment of apathy and desensitization. As parents and educators I do feel we have a responsibility to stop this growing trend in its tracks and set people right on the very real and horribly damaging nature and consequences of bullying.

      What actually is bullying? How is it defined? According to the article, “Shaping Safer Schools, 2005” bullying is a “dynamic of unhealthy interaction. It is a form of repeated aggression used from a position of power. It can be physical, verbal or social.” Basically, it is a pattern of deliberate acts to hurt another and put them into a stressful situation. Upon analysis of this definition it is very important to focus on the terms repeated and pattern. Bullying is not a single incident of pushing or teasing in the schoolyard. That is an example of very poor and negative behaviour…not bullying. Of course, if this happened again and again, it does become a situation where an individual is specifically targeted and thus becomes bullying. In support of this idea is a quotation which comes from Dr. Neil Gottheil who is a clinical psychologist at a Children’s hospital in Canada. Gottheil claims that while bullying is indeed an issue, he cautions against claiming the bullying rates in Canada are high or higher than in other industrialized countries in the world because the definition of bullying in the report is too broad. In his own words: “A one time altercation does not constitute bullying.”

      The question which may come up at this point is what is the big deal? Why am I mincing words?

      I am a school principal, but I am also the parent of a child who was relentlessly bullied in school. Due to these facts, I quite understand how upsetting it can be when your child is teased or picked on at school. This can be even more upsetting if the school does not take such occurrences seriously. In truth, schools should always take any report of negative behaviour seriously and do a full investigation. However, to classify every incident as bullying is extremely counterproductive. It essentially waters down the impact of the term bullying which should be reserved for serious cases of repeated aggression. We simply cannot use the same term when we compare a child who in a one-time situation was called a silly name with a child or teen who is relentlessly targeted at school and online to the point it leads them to despair. They are entirely two different things! Overuse of the term bullying leads to a general desensitization of the term. It will get to the point it is no longer treated with the seriousness, care and intense diligence it needs to be. This in turn will further victimize those who are truly suffering due to bullying. I for one believe we simply cannot let that happen!

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  3. There was a panel discussion on ABC radio week before last on this very topic with psych, lawyer, unionist and university experts about how the vast majority of complaints of bullying made arent bullying at all and how the community, workplaces, legal and industrial system is suffering from bullying fatigue as a result. The most critical of the over use of bullying accusations was the women on the panel from the union. They discussed how its not bullying simply because you perceive it to be and how bullying has come to mean anything the person throwing the accusation wants it to be. But bullying is an objective definition not a subjective one. When your making an accusation against another that comes with stigma and potential legal ramifications for person the accusation is levelled against, then bullying must be based on an objective definition and of the facts not the based merely on the perceptions of the accuser, their perception is what is isnt bullying or their perception of whether they have or haven’t been bullied does not come into the equation. Bullying is not in the eye of the beholder.
    The panel said the most disturbing trend now as a result of the misuse of bullying complaints is of employees who are left traumatised and suffering serious mental health consequences as a result of being wrongly accused or labelled by another worker of being a bully and that people need to think twice before throwing around accusations of bullying against others like candy.

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    • if I say its bullying, then its bullying, end of story
      im not going to stand back and have my rights walked all over
      i so hope my team leader does suffer serious mental health consequences as a result, thats called ‘pay back’!!!!
      with any luck he will go top himself

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      • Charming.

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      • @ Diane

        Please read my other reply to one of your posts.

        In short, just fuck off. If you already know everything, get off your arse and do something about it.

        Leave the grown ups alone to discuss serious issues.

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  4. As a psychologically injured worker, it’s demoralizing to be labeled as “psychologically deranged” by a CEO of Workcover. Please correct me if I’m wrong but deranged means insane and workcover is meant to assist injured workers. After surviving an armed hold up – having a rifle inches away from my face whilst kneeling on the floor and later jammed into my back. To be diagnosed with PTSD and depression, placed on medication that can cause diabetes and heart conditions. My personality and appearance changing dramatically. To then be theoretically dumped by a company that I had loved working for. I think I am dealing with enough. I and others who have a pyscological injury whether it’s the result of bullying, serious physical injury or a traumatic incident don’t deserve to be publicly humiliated. I wish that abhorrent man could walk a day in my shoes or mind.

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  5. Hey Left of centre,

    WorkCover, your employer, rehab providers, a few insurer paid psychologists and definitely insurer paid IMEs are not your friends or allies.

    I feel for you with PTSD. I don’t know how far into your WorkCover nightmare you have travelled, but I can assure you that you will be subjected to substantially worse before you case is over.

    During my case, I have been subjected to neuropsychological testing including a personality test – everything normal, A DAPS test for PTSD – confirmed PTSD.

    Even after that, the insurer IMEs denied PTSD, and came up with several personality & other disorders, that apparently I had all the time, that were unknown to me or my treating psychologist.

    In short, they will lie about you, blame it some other stressor in your life, claim that your reaction is “atypical” etc etc etc.

    You have not seen true bullshit, until you have read an insurer appointed psychiatrist IME’s report.

    I hope you have a good lawyer, because you are in for a hell of a ride. It is better to know what games the bastards will be playing – and they play dirty, REAL dirty.

    You will get assistance from the insurer for the first 3 months of your claim and then the dirty tricks will start.

    It is all about money (saving it) it is never about rehabilitation and support.

    Good luck.

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  6. Hi FU_CGU

    You are right the whole process is a nightmare. The hardest part is when you realise that all these professionals who are supposed to care are really concerned with mitigating the financial loss to the business or the insurer and you are on your own.
    It has been 12 months of hell. I have not gone down the legal path as I don’t think I would cope mentally with the stress.
    I appreciate your advice. Thanks

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    • Hey Left of centre,

      I have no idea have you have handled those bastards without a lawyer to counter punch them when necessary – I take my hat off to you.

      As long as you are getting good CBT treatment with a good psychologist and the insurer gives you some space and time to heal as best you can.

      Just be aware that you are probably under surveillance, I kept spotting them (good old hypervigilance) and it just drove me nuts.

      Take care

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  7. Hi FU_CGU

    In the beginning I was convinced the person following me had something to do with the gunman and I was petrified. If I had known then what I know now, perhaps I would be further along on my journey to recovery.

    They are so dogmatic in their approach to prove us all malingerers, and don’t appear to know or care about the consequences of their actions.

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    • Hey Left of Centre,

      I am glad you are seeing through the insurer’s (& other hanger on’s) deceptive manipulations.

      Rather than help us overcome and deal with our vulnerabilities, these arseholes use our vulnerabilities against us!

      I couldn’t leave the house for several weeks. I was scared of everything. After 3 years, I still struggle with crowds and I continually scan my environment for potential danger. I hope it will diminish with a few more years behind me.

      It is hard to accept how much “the incident” has changed me, but it ain’t going to change much now!

      Good luck and take it easy

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  8. I have been doing the workers comp dance for years and now am off to a WPI assessment next month. Despite the many scans and reports that verify my physical injury, the most recent IME’s report said that I was fine to return to full time work. I intend to present honestly to this assessment (as I always have) – showing how honestly restricted I am and how this injury has impacted upon every aspect of my quality of life. My question is this: when I am medicated with Norspan, Panadeine Forte and Cymbalta I can function quite well and manage 3 days work (non-consecutive days). So do I stop taking my meds and present in my unmedicated state? The pain will be absolutely unbearable. How have others approached this situation? Secondly, has anyone used the FOI letter to their benefit? Do I need to advise my lawyer that I am sending that letter?

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  9. Neckiswrecked if you would normally be taking your medication on the day the IME is scheduled then I would have thought that you would continue to take your medication on that day as normal. If you turned up to the IME in unbearable pain the IME would wonder why you aren’t taking your medication if you are in a lot of pain. Knowing IME’s and how they twist things they would then say you aren’t really in any pain as you don’t need to take any medication or if you were taking the medication as prescribed by your doctors you would be fully able to work. Turning up unmediated could backfire. So best to go in your normal medicated state to show IME that even when on your meds you still have pain and limitations.

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  10. Yeah, thanks for that. I don’t think I would want to risk being unmedicated anyway. It’s crap that I have to be on all these drugs – I forgot to add Baclofen – but at least I am upright! This time I intend to take a script with me, or dot points I wish to talk about, to ensure everything is noted … everything I used to enjoy in my life but now cannot (e.g. a job I worked hard to get qualified for, one which gave me much reward and enjoyment and respect from others), as well as personal impacts (sex, leisure activities). Any advice would be appreciated.

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