WorkCover NSW bullying inquiry slams WorkCover culture


aworkcovervictimsdiary welcomes the recent findings and recommendations of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the bullying culture that exists in WorkCover NSW, which seriously damages its credibility. The report confirms what we have known and loathed for many years, that a serious culture of bullying exists in the NSW WorkCover authority.

We refer back to our previous post “Inquiry finds bullying withing WorkCover NSW“. The Inquiry was in response to a successful prosecution in defence of  Wayne Butler who had been brutally bullied from his position in the organisation.

In the Industrial Relations Commission Deputy President Harrison was scathing and found that “the termination of Mr Butler’s employment [was] harsh, unreasonable and unjust”.

His Honour commented, words to the effect that “in 26 years on the bench I struggle to find an example where someone has been dealt with more unfairly or unjustly”.
His Honour further commented that Mr Butler had been used as “a scapegoat for systemic management failure and as a sacrifice to an application of policy and procedure in a draconian way which countenances no innocent explanation”.

Also, various surveys of WorkCover NSW staff over recent years have consistently shown high levels of bullying,
with 40-50% of workers reporting that they have witnessed instances of bullying but no effective action was ever taken by management. The bullying problem within WorkCover NSW has worsened significantly in recent years.

The evidence of bullying and intimidation of injured workers, not only by their employer but even more disturbingly from WorkCover and the insurers who are supposed to be protecting them and assisting their recovery, is unacceptable. It must end, says John Robertson, Labor MP.

We believe when a bullying culture has become so widespread at the NSW workplace safety regulator, which
is really meant to ensure safety, health and well being of all workers, including injured workers, across the state, it’s definitely high time for a serious  look at how this issue is dealt with!

WorkCover bullying inquiry shows regulator failing on all levels

david-shoebridge-greens-member-nsw-parliamentby David Shoebridge, Greens Member of the NSW Parliament
June 19, 2014

The report released (on 19 June 2014) by the Parliamentary Committee inquiry into WorkCover bullying confirms what many workers and WorkCover employees have known for some time – it is an organisation in chaos with an entrenched culture of bullying that is failing in its task of protecting NSW workers.

Greens MP and Industrial Relations Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“When the Greens called for this inquiry it was in response to many concerning reports of bullying within WorkCover NSW.

“With this unanimous report it is now a matter of public record that bullying within WorkCover NSW is rife and senior management have consistently failed to address this.

WorkCover NSW, which is meant to be regulating work safety across the state, has shown itself unable to even address bullying in its own ranks.

“The responsibility for these failures rests squarely with senior management who have fundamentally failed to accept the proven instances of bullying by WorkCover NSW.

“This culture of bullying and denial must be addressed before anyone can have confidence that WorkCover is up to the job of being a state-wide workplace regulator.

“This report is damning of the culture and capacity of WorkCover NSW and demands a complete overhaul of how the regulator is oversighted.

“The unanimous report also called for the urgent implementation of Statewide anti-bullying laws, a proposal which would provide essential protection for thousands of working people in the public sector.

“This is a stark wake-up call to WorkCover NSW and the new minister for Finance Dom Perrottet to urgently fix this broken and dysfunctional Workplace regulator,” Mr Shoebridge said.

The report can be read here



Unanimous report calls for action on workcover bullying

Posted by Jessica Hook on June 19, 2014

Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Adam Searle said the unanimous report on bullying in WorkCover sets out key recommendations that need to be implemented to fix the culture in the workplace safety regulator.

“The report provides a clear insight into the institutional problems of bullying inside the workplace safety regulator, allowed to flourish by a culture of denial and cover-up,” Adam Searle said.

“This unhealthy culture must change, and the report provides a road map for that change.

“The recommendations include the need for investigations that are independent of the agency, where the agency is the subject of the complaint and investigation.

“We also recommend that there should be laws that protect all workers, whether at work, or injured, from workplace bullying.

“These laws would extend not only to employers and all workplaces, but also to the staff of WorkCover and insurance company staff who manage workers compensation matters.

The evidence of ( Workcover NSW)  bullying and intimidation of injured workers, not only by their employer but even more disturbingly from WorkCover and the insurers who are supposed to be protecting them and assisting their recovery, is unacceptable. It must end.

“We want WorkCover to be an organisation that can lead by example – but it cannot do that as long as this culture of bullying remains.

“I am particularly pleased that the findings and recommendations were cross-party and unanimous. I call on the government to commit to implementing these important reforms.

“The Board that oversees the agency is hard-working, but may be overloaded in terms of its responsibilities. I invite the Minister to consider reform of the board structure.”



2 Responses to “WorkCover NSW bullying inquiry slams WorkCover culture”

    Parliamentary committee to review progress in addressing bullying in WorkCover NSW

  2. Workplace Bullying Agency Beset By Workplace Bullying

    A damning NSW Parliament Upper House inquiry into state agency WorkCover has exposed bullying and mismanagement. Max Chalmers reports.

    It’s the organisation you’re supposed to contact if you experience bullying in the workplace, but a NSW Government inquiry has found that a “culture of bullying” exists in state agency WorkCover, and that managerial staff failed to understand the depth of the problem, or act appropriately in response.

    A damning report delivered by a Legislative Council Committee has warned that aside from the damages suffered by WorkCover staff, the culture of the agency may be preventing it from adequately dealing with complaints made by members of the public.

    Just as WorkCover has not grasped the seriousness of bullying within its own organisation, it appears not to have recognised the seriousness of this issue in other workplaces, nor to have taken a sufficiently active role in promoting compliance,” the reported noted.

    Greens MP David Shoebridge has today reiterated the concerns expressed in the report.

    “There is one pretty obvious reason why this matter needs to be high on the public’s agenda. WorkCover is responsible for addressing bullying in other workplaces. It clearly can’t do that job when it is itself has a toxic internal bullying culture,” Shoebridge writes in New Matilda.

    The report made 13 recommendations, calling for an apology to be issued to employees for past wrongs and for outlets to be established to allow staff to make complaints of bullying to an independent arbiter.

    Previously, they had been required to lodge complaints of bullying with their own employer.

    In the process of the inquiry the Committee received 98 submissions, many of which were from WorkCover employees past and present, detailing their experiences with bullying in the workplace.

    “A former WorkCover employee identified a number of ‘strategies’ used to bully her including ‘performance management’, giving her a larger and more complex workload compared with other colleagues, assigning work below her skill level, being told she is not working well as a team member, and being directed to stop work on certain tasks then taken over by someone else, and being given no credit for the work,” the report stated.

    One submission from a WorkCover employee, who had been pregnant at the time of her bullying, claimed that poor management and mistreatment of staff resulted in her suffering physical and psychological distress.

    “The impact was that I did not want to come to work. It affected my health, causing poor sleep, an inability to relax, severe migraines and stomach complaints.

    “I took leave from the workplace as it became an uncomfortable place to be,” her submission stated.

    The Public Service Association (PSA) told the inquiry that delegates were harassed in the workplace and faced aggression and threats of reprisals. The report itself noted: “One particular aspect of poor management underscored by a number of participants was 

    The report also cited one submission which claimed staff had used the term ‘bullying’ in an overly liberal way, been too prone to complaining, and that only the unions were responsible for bullying in the agency.

    The report, which was sparked by an Industrial Relations Committee ruling that WorkCover employee Wayne Butler had been unfairly dismissed and subjected to a “witch hunt”, criticised WorkCover for failing to provide information requested by the Committee throughout the inquiry. It recommended a specific apology be made to Mr Butler.

    Concerns about WorkCover have been acknowledged for some time, with the PSA reporting it had been aware of the issues since 2004.

    Now one of those “Managerial Staff” was the old WorkCover NSW CEO Julie. We were recently tipped off by a WC employee that “she pushed her weight around using her authority” And was allegedly also racist. The tip off also believed “she deserves to be bad named for her abusive behaviour and the culture as a leader. She (also) strategically resigned prior to to govt bully report being released!”

    Workcovervictim3 June 25, 2014 at 8:36 pm