According to the recent Herald Sun’s – rather over-sensationalised- article titled: Revealed: The WorkCover cheats ripping millions from the workers compensation fund , listing a handful of fraudulent injured workers’ cases, one can easily be mislead (again) that injured workers’ fraud is rampant and extremely costly. But is it?
Workcover cheats ripping off millions – really?
Revealed: The WorkCover cheats ripping millions from the workers compensation fund
By: PETER MICKELBUROUGH FREEDOM OF INFORMATION EDITOR
Sunday Herald Sun | September 13, 2014
Victorians spend more than $1.7 billion a year to support injured workers through the Victorian WorkCover Authority — that’s $33 million a week, almost $5 million each day, or $200,000 every hour.
But each year a handful of people take advantage of this generosity to line their own pockets, either faking injuries or exaggerating them.
This week it was a greedy bus driver bashed by a TV star who turned from victim to villain.
Joseph Hosny, 57, admitted cheating us all by secretly working while also receiving weekly compo payments after being repeatedly punched to the head by actor Jason Gann, who plays a sociopathic, foul-mouthed, bong-smoking dog in the hit comedy series Wilfred.
Initially charged with 244 deceptions and frauds, Hosny pleaded guilty on Monday to a single rolled up offence of obtaining $49,000 in financial advantage by deception.
WorkCover makes no apology for pursuing those ripping off the system.
“The system is set up to support people who have been hurt and help get them back into the workforce and wider community life as soon as possible and it is important the money goes to the people who really need it,” WorkCover’s Peter Flaherty said.
“Anyone defrauding the system is actually defrauding their work colleagues and every worker and employer in Victoria.”
In most cases the frauds are caught out by their own actions.
WorkCover’s head of investigations Peter Collins said his team was often called in after a tip-off by colleagues, friends and even family members of injured workers.
“The pattern is often the same. A person receives a genuine injury at work but then exaggerates their injury to receive more benefits, or takes a second job,” he said.
… description of fraudulent cases…
In the previous four years WorkCover has run 58 successful prosecutions involving fraud totalling $1.7 million.
“The vast majority of injured workers want to do the right thing but there will always be a small minority who are tempted to defraud the system,” Mr Flaherty said.
WorkCover’s Peter Flaherty says people ripping off the system are hurting their workmates.
“The challenge for the VWA is detect these people and hold them to account.”
“The VWA will continue to work hard to identify and prosecute those who defraud the system, in order to protect honest workers and employers.”
Whilst we do agree that the few people doing the wrong thing should be caught, what is not reported in this article is that, for example, figures obtained by Freedom of Information showed that in 2010-11, WorkSafe VIC (VWA) spent $13.7 million watching 6675 people claiming benefits. The cost was more than $1.2 million above the previous year’s bill for watching 6217 people, but it prosecuted just 18 cases of fraud. From the stats provided by the Herald Sun’s current article, in 2010-11 only 8 (of the 18) cases were successfully prosecuted by the VWA (however that is not to say the VWA may have ‘settled’ the other prosecuted cases out of court). So, in effect in 2010-11 the VWA spent just about 14 million dollars to recover (prosecute) 8 cases worth $430,000.
Basically, one could interpret that millions (14 million) are being spent putting mostly good, honest people under surveillance, large amounts of money being spent, for what appears to be a very limited return (on investment – time and money).
Would the VWA not be better off redirecting these funds to preventing workplace injuries and helping injured workers obtain prompt medical (and like) treatment and help them get back to work?
Also not mentioned in this article is that, last year a newspaper article titled “WorkSafe pays law firms bonuses to minimise victims’ payouts” revealed how WorkCover Vic pays lawyers confidential million-dollar bonuses to minimise support for injured workers. Could this practice also not be interpreted as a type of “fraud” (bribery), committed by the VWA, ripping off ‘the system’, leaving genuinely injured workers with limited compensation, and little help?
What are your thoughts?
[Post by Workcovervictim3]