The WorkCover Story of Oh, no, not Another one


“In July 200x I was psychologically injured at work, a company called [X] by their Warehouse Manager, [Name], who I believe would be classified as an ‘office psychopath'” writes OnnAo (Oh, no, not Another one).

The WorkCover Story of Oh, no, not Another one

The Story of Oh, no, not Another one

I witnessed him assault a member of the public and after I notified my supervisor of the circumstance, [Name] threatened me with bodily harm or death. This caused Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I am not yet
recovered. I was not his only victim and he was later (in December 200x) dismissed as a direct result of his workplace bullying behaviour.

Cambridge Insurance [now trading as Xchanging] was their NSW Worker’s Compensation insurer. I applied for WC when it became apparent that I could not return to full-time work.
It took EIGHT MONTHS to provide the dispute notice (Section 74 or 54 notice) from the insurer to decline liability, during which time I was ineligible for Social Security benefits and was also NOT paid weekly benefits.

This caused severe financial hardship from which I am not yet recovered. I had to sell my house (at a greatly reduced price) to repay the loans from friends which provided me with living expenses during this period.

[Xchanging] repeatedly did not return my telephone calls, adding to my distress. Since working had been my major source of self-esteem, I suffered from depression as a result of not being able to maintain a gainful occupation.

Until that time, I had earned my own living, in spite of personal set-backs, for the majority of my life. I have not done so since. I am still unable to work and still have panic attacks, flashbacks and other stress-related symptoms, but now, many of these are triggered by the resultant financial hardship that [Xchanging] Insurance, by refusing to
honour their legal obligations to me, have caused directly, as well as the trauma I suffered through the callousness of [company] in their handling of the situation. I have now recovered sufficiently to apply for a review of this
decision. It only took eight years.

Cambridge Insurance was acquired by a company called Xchanging in recent years. Perhaps that absolves them of liability. However, I have applied to Xchanging to have the decision reviewed in the light of my continuing
inability to return to the workforce. It will be interesting to see what they say in response.

Meanwhile, I have asked Workcover NSW for assistance. So far, they havesent me information about applying for a  review and about unfair dismissal. The latter is probably of little use, as I now live in [another state], so even if the employer offered me my job back, the commute would not be feasible. Besides which, I could not go back to that, or
probably any, employer and trust them not to place me in danger again.

I have been in receipt of a Disability Support Pension since April 200x.
I am entitled to be repaid that sum (which I would have to refund to Centrelink), plus an additional amount for loss of earnings and loss of future earnings. Compensation for pain and suffering since July 200x should also be paid. I cannot easily put a price on that. It needs to be enough to replace my home, at the very least.

I cannot be adequately compensated for the misery of the past nine years: the sleepless nights; the fear of public places; the terror of answering the telephone or doorbell; the number of times I have messed myself in
dread of unnameable dangers; the migraines; the inability to think clearly and the uncertainty about my future financial security, but they can try.

I believe they owe me compensation for all the pain and suffering that their decision and their lack of decision (for over seven months longer than their legal right to take) in deciding their position.

If adequate recompense is not forthcoming, I will take this matter further. I am resolved to have justice for the appalling treatment meted out by my employer, their employee and their insurer. Cambridge Insurance, or its acquirer, Xchanging, is the third party to this claim and the one who will be expected to provide me with the means to regain what I have lost. It is not the responsibility of the taxpayer to support me until I can once again earn my living: it is theirs.

I need the resources to start my own business or retrain in an education system not suited to persons with my disability. I need residential security, personal security and financial security, all of which are lacking at present. I am not unskilled and I am not lazy. Being forced to live on a DSP is abhorrent to me, but it is currently my only means of support.

I will probably never again be able to work for an employer, but I am capable of running my own business, where I am in control of who comes and goes, where I have the right to remove threatening people and avoid dangerous situations, where I can be productive to my maximum abilities. I am motivated and terrified, an unhappy condition. I have developed management procedures for my ongoing psychological condition which work to a limited extent.

I could run my own wholesale plant nursery and herb production facility from my home, if I had one. I could probably retrain as a solicitor, under the right circumstances and given the supportive environment I would require. This is the path I would take if the appropriate resources were available. Turn my hobbies into income-producing streams while I return to my academic pursuits. I have ambition, despite my disability.

I want someone to help me overcome PTSD. I want to be me again. Give me justice. Give me the chance I deserve to regain my social position. I want a future. Is it really too much to ask? I had some success with EMDR (Eye
Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), but the psychologist has closed the clinic that was forty minutes away and now I would have to travel over two hours to continue the treatment. I’m not up to that.

Nevertheless, this is not just a sob story. My quality of life has improved to the point where I am relatively functional. I get up most mornings and keep my house reasonably clean and tidy. I have great avoidance mechanisms – when something stresses me, I play video games, go for a walk around the field behind the house, play with the animals or
watch a video. Usually these distractions stop me from having to wash my underwear.

More than that, the [child] who lives with me and I are saving to build a new house (if they don’t drop the pension too low) and we try to keep each other positive. Things were much worse nine years ago, when I couldn’t leave my room to visit the bathroom. Even so, the changes in the treatment of injured workers just go from bad to worse. It is appalling that employers and their insurers are allowed to treat workers in their care as if they are criminals.

I have just found the workcovervictimsdiary website and have found the stories of other people’s experiences strangely comforting.

We really are not alone, our situations are not so different and we are not being singled out for dreadful treatment – everybody who sustains a long-term injury that prevents them from working is treated equally badly. That does
not excuse the behaviour of the system towards us, but it does mean that we are a large body of voters.

How should we combine our political power to affect the changes to the system that are required? What are the changes that are needed? What pressure can be brought to bear on the various agencies and authorities who control our future? Perhaps we need to make some new law to deal with this situation – it is obvious that the hotch-potch of current legislation is untenable and unfair. How should it be worded and how can we introduce it at a federal level?

It seems to me that the disenfranchised have legislative power, if we can but work out how to cooperate and bring about a more just system than the one at present being tossed about as a political football. Maybe each of
us should send an email with our personal story to several appropriate politicians and media folk. What does everyone else think? Can we blog our way to justice?

I hope my story helps others to feel less isolated and that my questions lead to concerted effort on the part of all WC victims.


OnnAo (Oh, no, not Another one)

One Response to “The WorkCover Story of Oh, no, not Another one”

  1. To ONNAO,
    You do need to contact FairWork for advice as they can find unfair dismissal even though you cannot return to that workplace. I have an idea they can make an award for loss (not sure) and they can investigate workplace bullying. Ring them for sure to find out. You need to go ahead with the review as well as document your story and evidence as you will be entitled to some reimbursement for your loss. You should also contact WIRO in NSW who can contact the insurer to see what is going on. Go to the WIRO website for contact details. If the insurer declines liability you will need a solicitor who deals with NSW WC legislation. They can get funding from WIRO through the ILAIRS scheme so you can take your case to the WCC for settlement. Make sure you send your story to the local member as well as the NSW upper house politicians. State you want a commission/inquiry into the behaviours of insurers in WC matters.
    Good luck.

    Bashed and bullied March 11, 2015 at 7:58 am