The following extremely distressing story, submitted by Maggie J highlights that the workcover system is so corrupt, so negligent it wakens you to a side of being human that is more ugly than working with sex offenders and child abusers, it is the legal discrimination of vulnerable people, … It is where workcover insurers are the obstacles, they take on the role of the perpetrators, where the insurer manipulates, abuses, intimidates & threatens …
The truth, the whole truth & nothing but lies is the system we call Workcover
By Maggie J
If it is not challenging enough to wake & begin the day negotiating with yourself to keep breathing & then work at silencing the voices in your head as you negotiate your way out of bed & into the day, the over flowing cup is topped up, just enough to push you over your limit with the never ending pressure from Insurers.
At my best I could pull apart information, collate, document, research & interpret behaviour to pull together lengthy substantiated evidence to keep children safe. At my worst I put in over nights, double shifts, if you picked the short straw & took a call out at 1600, you knew you weren’t going home on time. As a single parent I had all the balls in the air at the same time. The Nanny that took home more of my income than I did, the before & after school care that had my children as the first to sign on & last to sign off, yet I told myself if I work hard & had no dependency on Government benefits, I could provide my children with all their needs. As a single parent I managed a pretty good life, private schools, horse riding lessons, swimming lessons, weekends were full with little time for anything personal, hence why I stayed single. If I wasn’t working with children all day, I was at home trying to be the best parent I could be, my career helped me to do that or so I thought.
When the crap hit the fan & we were personally targeted for a Dept decision, yet few understand this is your job, don’t take it personally, what they see is your face in the court room, your name & signature on the documents & you case managing their children out of their lives, they took it personal. So personal they offered money to find me or anyone related to me, wanted to know where I lived, any information so they could give me what they thought I deserved. I’ve lost count of the number of times I was threatened & with no gun, no fast car with flashing lights, no uniform, we have only our humour & resilience & never took much of it seriously. In fact at one time I remember having a competition between response teams as to who had the most charming names of the week, ‘f***king fat skanky whore’ was my classic. If you let too much of that under your skin, you would never get the job done. When you accept that producing egg & sperm is not an entitlement to parent, that children deserve to be parented within their best interests, they are not doormats or punching bags or there to be ignored, you get your job done & you go home to do your best work.
That’s the stuff I told myself. Of course that was until cash incentives were offered on social media to locate my family & my Dept dropped me like a hot piece of crap. That was before my home was targeted & broken into & we lost anything special I had worked hard for or presents we had kept, the picture of my son who died of cancer & the painting I had done, smashed on the floor. I found my I.D. in the toilet, relocated from my briefcase in the downstairs office & who knows what else in the bowl with my personal items, hairbands, jewellery, perfume. Food scattered, sauced splashed around, the photos of my children arranged up the staircase. They went through everything, all my personal documents, everything that described who I was & where I had come from.
When we got to the door that night & the security lights didn’t come on & with 2 kids happy to be home, the reality didn’t hit until I couldn’t open the door wide enough to get in & realised the house had been done completely over. I told the kids to run & run fast. Imagine a 5 year old late at night being told to run into the darkness to a neighbour screaming.
So there we were homeless, no possessions & not once did I see someone from work. Forensics turned up within the week, the usual process, then I was told I was under Workcover, then the not so fun stuff began. After weeks of no sleep & being told to drop off the radar with two little people & nowhere to go, I was then interviewed for 3 hrs by a Workcover psychologist, I was asked everything about the last years of my life from then back to birth, everything except the colour of my underwear that day and whether I had a dummy as a child, yet I was happy to let him no the answer to both. I had interviewed people to gather information many times and I was not happy with my first experience at supposedly attempting to help me through what was a normal response to a traumatic experience.
I have worked in trauma environments for a long time, I assessed trauma. I knew the first 3-6months were going to be critical for recovery & I literally begged & pulled out every stop to get the Insurer (QBE/TMF’s) attention & to seek approval for treatment that would return me to work the best I could be, yet it wasn’t to be. Four months later treatment was approved, only after a great deal of negotiating. Even with the support of a great clinical psych & general practitioner, the Insurer held their ground & it wasn’t until I sat in the carpark of my GP’s & was reminded by the 3rd caseworker I had, that I had no power anymore, to remember I didn’t work where I worked anymore & if I didn’t do exactly what she said I wouldn’t get paid. I needed another approach & it didn’t sit well.
So I played nicely, I tried anyway & yet the harder I tried the harder they manipulated. I even managed to be approved for a post graduate university rehabilitation program, apparently only the 2nd Uni degree approved under the system in the State, bit hard to put me back into employment once the employer decided to give me 24 hrs notice & medically retire me. I guess they thought (given their own trauma backgrounds) this was a losing battle. I had relocated 4 times since then & more to come; the car had been tampered with, the dog poisoned & the stalking continued; door locks broken in on a new place & despite an AVO by that stage & absolutely scared children screaming as they were bashing on the door trying to get in & I called the local LAC, I was informed that due to Workcover disputes they had downsized their cars & only 1 was available at the time “can you wait until the morning”, yep the bubble burst.
I can remember when my youngest asked me why I protected other people’s children and no one was protecting them & I was lost for words I had to sit in the bathroom with the door locked for a while. Over the last nearly 4 years, I’ve pleaded with the Insurer, been reduced to my most vulnerable & renegotiated with myself what matters. I told myself someone would have our back, I believed if I suffered a workplace injury & was honest & did my job the best I could, someone would be there to protect my children in the event something happened to me. These were lies, no my own, yet the lies we tell ourselves because we won’t know the truth until we need to know.
The truth, the whole truth, is that the Workcover system & insurers are full of lies. In the last two months my most recent Caseworker (after browsing his Facebook page) has been to ever single location I have been, including interstate, to a friend’s restaurant, my brother’s restaurant, to all the places we relocate at the same time & yet I’m told this is not surveillance, this is an extraordinary coincidence. This caseworker spends more time outdoors & on ‘holidays’ than he does at a desk.
We have one of the worst professional stalking cases identified by leading forensic psychologists; I’m not sure of the outcome so much that I’ve updated my Will & had those hard conversations as a single parent you need to have when you have to decide who can have your children if you are no longer here. I’ve been kept on edge by ongoing moving, looking over my shoulder, my children no longer attend school, they are both distance ed; all those nice things I worked hard for, none of it matters when you down to your basic human needs, to feel safe, to have a roof over your head.
We’ve had little or no belongings now for over a year. After moving & the break-in & more issues, I decided to put what was remaining into storage before I lost the only pictures I had remaining of my children & their favourite cuddlies & things that were important to them, before I came home to a pile of ash. I put it all away for safe keeping & I pay the cost of it every month. We live from our backpacks, on the go. I deregistered my car, took the plates off & put it into storage & paid for a new car with what I had remaining. We purchased a dog as recommended & she has been a blessing to the kids in helping them feel safe at night & goes everywhere we go, where she is permitted.
There is not an aspect of our lives that has not been changed or touched by this, being targeted as a result of a decision I made in the line of work, supported by management, finalised by the Court, yet I was targeted, my children and my family & they want revenge for abusing their children so badly they’ll never be returned.
Nothing like living with that every day, it’s no wonder you negotiate whether you are better off not here & your children could get on with their lives in the safety of someone else, with your Superannuation & death benefits, you lose count of how many times you way up the pros & cons of that decision. It is the solicitors who are counting the figures who ask you to ‘hold on’ a little more, ‘there is an end to this’ & yet it has its toll on an already over exhausted psychological health. You are stuffed, you are so tired you can’t sleep. Your eating patterns resemble the early 20’s when you didn’t care, you were just on auto pilot. Every part of your body is aching from the muscle tension, the migraines & the irritability. Yet you drag every ounce you have out of you to be the parent your children deserve, even if it is 1/4 of who that was.
There is nothing but lies throughout this system. I wrote a submission to the parliamentary inquiry some years ago for NSW & sat in on the discussions only to be so disgusted by the discussions around the blame of Workers for bleeding the system dry with their fraudulent claims & compensation cases, that I walked out & was ready to give up.
There were the lies that people tell themselves about why you are off work, the ones who don’t understand the term ‘medical retirement’ the criterion for PTSD, depression & anxiety, the ones who think you don’t know what you are talking about when you try to explain whilst on Workcover you are not entitled to any benefit from Centrelink, no matter how low they drop your workers comp payments.
The lie I told myself, when I didn’t know the truth, was that if I worked hard enough & long enough & I gave up all that time with my children, that in the long term there would be benefits, they would benefit from those hard hours, the things I did, the events I witnessed, the cases I managed. I told myself that as a parent I was giving them the best chance at the best life by dedicating myself to my career. I was wrong, I was so very wrong.
This system is dishonest. No one believes it unless they’ve experienced it. When I told the Insurer after 8 moves we were now homeless, we were out of money & out of time & we needed to live as far off the radar as possible to keep safe, they removed all my reimbursements to travel to & from my doctor. They wanted to keep us under surveillance, in case I was caught smiling or laughing with my children, then they could dispute the claim of permanent disability which they accepted already and say I was ‘better’. They couldn’t do surveillance unless they knew were I was. They then said I had to supply my drivers licence every time it was changed, so I just stopped changing it. They tried everything.
When none of their tactics or their understanding of the nature of the malevolence of this case sunk into them (how would it, we are talking admin case workers on complex psychological & criminal stalking cases), they decided to have a computer gliche’ & cut my income for nearly 5 weeks.
We’ve become very creative in our meals, I’ve had to stretch my doctors appointments & psych visits now, with no support to attend. I’ve worked out Lifeline at their busiest has a 35 minute wait, the local hospital social workers have a 3month wait list & the Mental Health Access Line is a triage service to refer you to another waiting list.
I’ve learned that the only lies out there are the ones where we think this system will help, that it will be there to prevent us from negotiating with ourselves everyday. The truth, the whole truth, is this system doesn’t care whether we breathe or we don’t. It only cares about profit, about financial loss, about pushing you to your limits, because whatever decision you make it could save them a hell of a load of money.
If it fits into a backpack it belongs to us now & we can go at a moments notice. I don’t scare easily anymore & I guess that would be sitting at a 8 out of 10 hyper vigilance for the past nearly 4 years, I’m more than ready to grab a crow bar & run outside starkers at the first threat approaching my children, I won’t let them get a another chance.
There are few people who I’ve met who know what this has been like, how unique our situation is. When I say where I was working they assume it was the filth & disgust of the job, the violence, the sex offences, the interviewing children who should be learning how to ride a bike & yet spending hours telling you of being used by their parent, sold for sex so their parents could score drugs. People assume its being assaulted as you serve paperwork, the constant & relentless attitude in the community about what you do, they assume that is why you are not yourself anymore. I’ve heard it all ‘she has gone a bit weird…bit over protective don’t you think……is it really true, sounds more like a story to me’.
The truth is you are not encouraged to go get the groceries on your own, to socialise, to extend yourself, to try & manage your symptoms which will be life long they are so engrained; the system won’t allow you to self determine & empower yourself, it is constructed on the lie that whatever Insurers do in their course of proceeding with your claim, it is to determine the legitimacy of your entitlement. It isn’t about the fine print in your Super or Workers comp policies, isn’t about your goals or dreams that are shattered the moment you end up in this system, the truth is this process is nothing more than a cost cutting exercise, you are a number, you are not a person, your children, their suffering doesn’t matter, your homelessness is ‘irrelevant’ (how many times I’ve heard that).
I was once told I could go back & do data entry that I was doing when I was 18, some nearly 30 years ago. How many systems have changed since then, how many degrees & qualifications have I obtained since then anyway & what about….actually what about my symptoms for PTSD, depression & anxiety? What about the stalking & living as low profile as possible? They’ve tried it all, I am not a person, I am ‘irrelevant’.
Yet we must keep trying. I want to give up more than anything, yet when I get up each day & finally negotiate my way out of bed I have this picture of my son, the one thing that wasn’t broken, next to my bed, it reminds me that nothing will ever be that hard, nothing this Insurer can throw at me, take from us, hit me with, nothing will be that hard.
We have nothing now, it is a few
weeks [days] from Christmas and there is a good chance, given the last few months of losing income & ‘computer gliches’ that I won’t see my normal fortnightly income right on Christmas. There is a good chance will go to a level we haven’t gone to before & this seems to be the pattern followed since it all began.
The truth, the whole truth & nothing but lies is the system we call Workcover.
I don’t have a lot remaining, just a few backpacks of things, a few bits & pieces for the kids & our ability to keep moving, yet I won’t give up my life to a system that begs me too.
I’m not sure how we all go forward with this, how we all reconcile that the treatment & disappointment of finding out the Workcover system is far worse than anything you experienced at work, I’m not sure how we all go forward from the scars of these experiences, the loss of friends & colleagues who don’t make it. I don’t think it is in generalising about professions and singling out only certain careers have issues with suicide & PTSD, that just plays right into the Insurers stereotypes.
I’m not sure, I only know that getting up & keep going is the only choices right now & I don’t even know if this ending will be something worth waiting for.
I do know that I will be very careful in my truth to my children, as a parent into the future. That I will never teach them to put their faith into a system or workplace which you have no control over. To put their faith in each other, in themselves, not in possessions or degrees. To realise the only thing that matters is ourselves & each other, that no Workplace or Insurer or ‘process’ is worth losing any of that.
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