Melbourne Magistrate Court has recently heard the case of a WorkSafe Vic employee’s $20,000 cab charge rort “due to bullying at work”!
WorkSafe Vic former PA to WorkSafe Vic director $20,000 taxi charge rort
Court hears WorkSafe employee’s $20,000 cab charge rort due to bullying at workEmily Portelli
Herald Sun June 25
A publics ervant who charged more than $20,000 in unauthorised cab fares to her work claims she was bullied and harassed in the workplace.
Michelle Forward, the former personal assistant to the director of WorkSafe Vic, avoided jail after pleading guilty to 500 counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception “due to her fragile mental state”. (Could it be that she was allegedly bullied by WorkSafe Vic’s Ceo, Denise Cosgrove?)
Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard the 54-year-old, who was responsible for distributing Cabcharge vouchers to team members for business purposes, took them for her own personal use — including to travel to the eastern suburbs, where she lived – over the four years of her employment.
A company audit after Ms Forward resigned in April 2013 revealed the Mount Waverley woman had racked up $23,300 in charges by signing vouchers in either her own or her colleagues’ names.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Giovanni Lazzaro said Ms Forward made full admissions and said she was in “a fragile mental state”.
“She stated that she felt bullied and harassed at work and wasn’t thinking straight,” Sen-Cons Lazzaro said.
“She stated that she knew subconsciously that what she was doing was wrong and had tried to stop on occasions.”
The court heard Ms Forward was bankrupt and so depressed that some days she could not get out of bed or tolerate food.
Deputy chief magistrate Jelena Popovic said Ms Forward’s grave mental health concerns, detailed in a “very disturbing” report by her treating physician, meant her moral culpability for the crimes was lessened.
Ms Popovic said Ms Forward was unable to make rational decisions when she fell into this pattern of behaviour.
She said there was no sentencing option that reflected both the seriousness of the offence, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, and the mental health issues at play.
Ms Popovic said the interests of justice would not be served by Ms Forward being imprisoned and she would not be able to mentally cope with the demands of a community corrections order.
Ms Forward was placed on a three-year adjourned undertaking to be of good behaviour, with conditions that she comply with psychological and medical treatment.
“I actually can’t think of any other option available,” Ms Popovic said.
“Although this matter is a grave breach of trust, it falls in the category of being minor offending over a long period of time.”
The magistrate also ordered the bankrupt woman to pay $23,300 in compensation.
How interesting! Were it a poor, bankrupt, bullied injured worker who committed this gross offense, it would be plastered all over the media, portraying all injured workers as systematic ‘system-milkers’, and chances are the injured worker would have copped a harsh prison sentence. Also, the injured worker’s allegations of workplace bullying would have been dismissed or blamed on “reasonable management action”, and his/her depression would have been assessed by an IME as to stem from his bankruptcy and not the workplace bullying. That this WorkSafe Vic FRAUDSTER gets away with a charge of “minor offense” is an insult to the adversarial system. Furthermore the fact that the name of the “Director” of WorkSafe Vic is withheld again speaks volumes of the cover-up culture within Workcover… and their power to even influence Judge(s)!
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