Angry at the workcover system


I recently asked an orthopaedic surgeon why he recently decided to cease accepting workcover patients; the surgeon gave an interesting but perhaps wretched answer, saying that workcover patients are much more difficult o engage and treat than general patients because “these injured workers are so angry at the [workcover] system”.

Angry at the workcover system

What this orthopaedic surgeon said was – in my injured opinion – both very  intense and disturbing. Would this be an accurate observation of [most] injured workers?

Perhaps. One only needs to look around the Internet to find frustrated and angry postings by injured workers, many of them are posted on this site too (for example on our specially created “Vent!” page).


Vent here!

The workcover system is a terror journey, and many injured workers are – rightly- mad at workcover insurers’ delays, denials, interference. There is really no outlet for our pent-up injured rage, no way to vent, apart from – preferably doing it online and anonymously (rather than taking it out on our carers, family and friends). But what is perhaps most disturbing is that when injured workers do vent on the Internet (e.g sites like aworkcovervictimsdiary) the general perception is that these folks – that is WE, the injured workers- are completely irrational!

Of course, nobody likes to deal with angry people, so when  injured workers vent some pent-up steam, the general perception is that they further damage their cases because the wall of anger decreases approachability. Injured workers are seen as unsociable, unfriendly, ungrateful, unreachable and unapproachable.

Obviously when we’re so angry at the ‘system’ our ability to rationally converse and communicate decreases as well.This is particularly a problem when injured workers are repeatedly sent to [not so honest] independent medical examination doctors – many injured workers walk in to the exam angry, enraged and/or defensive.

Fact is for many of us, our utter frustration and anger at “the system” leads us to hire personal injury lawyer(s). At least they can rationally communicate and converse with those at whom we are so angry, be it our case managers,  our employer, or a dispute conference issue (i.e. conciliation).

But why are we (injured workers) so angry at “the system”? Who’s fault is it? Who or what is to blame?

In our injured opinion it is the workcover system – in particular the workcover insurers’ fault. They are to blame for injured workers’ anger, rage and frustration (never-mind desperation!). They have created a bureaucratic, adversarial system where communication and accountability are minimal to non-existent!

Required paperwork from our workcover insurers, notices and forms and some more paper based requests for all sorts does NOT equal communication! Proper communication needs to be a two-way process! Importantly listening – active listening is required. We do know from our personal experiences with “the system” that many times some empathetic communication (i.e. from the part of our obnoxious case manager) is all we truly need!

What’s more, given the minimal to non-existent accountability, our workcover system is filled with countless negative incentives. Do something against the rules and you get punished. Worse: injured workers are considered criminals until proven innocent and then some!

In fact we have come to believe that we, injured workers, are like sort of beaten dogs! After a while in “the system” the beaten dog (= the injured worker) is always trying NOT to do something to make the master mad or more mad! Simply looking to make the master happy does not work, you surely have found out!

So what could be done to make injured workers less angry or frustrated?

Wouldn’t it be nice if workcover staff, such as case managers were actually taught to be nice and friendly, and a little empathic to their “clients” – us, the injured workers? It should be a mandatory and even legal obligation. Nothing good comes from an angry interaction and at the end of the day the costs (on the part of the workcover insurer) will inevitably escalate! Think for example how many injured workers have suffered true nervous breakdowns from their “interactions” with their case manager(s), requiring treatment, medication…and which more often than not impedes the injured worker’s recovery (be it from a physical and/or a mental injury).

So why on earth is this so hard for the workcover “system” to be “nice”? What could we change?

  • Well, perhaps the most important fact is that the one who pays for the injured worker’s claim (medical and like benefits, weekly pay etc.)  is literally the “defendant” and they simply and harshly “defend” against claims and benefits. In other words: it’s all about the money (again)! Workcover case managers are taught to be DEFENSIVE, in other words: it is hard to be “nice” and “friendly” or “empathic” when you have been taught to fight everything – Deny, Delay – Stall, Starve, Settle.
  • Workcover case managers do have  high workload and, sure their work may be emotionally straining, but that does not mean the injured worker needs to be at the receiving side of the case manager’s bad day(s)!
  • Workcover insurers and their staff all have countless rules and regulations to uphold by. But surely something could be done to teach staff not get consumed by them all the time.


[Dictated by WCV & manually transcribed by T on her behalf]

7 Responses to “Angry at the workcover system”

  1. Why is it I get timed out errors and lose my posts?

  2. Totally bewildered by self insurers an there…..aaah wannabe’s. Y the heck isnt WCVD in charge of the current workcover system ?
    TOTALLY.. im damn serious.

    Yes I am consumed with seeking info !!!

    As if 2 leaflets are going to satisfy / justify this #”^/;& crap !!
    WVD is my daily newspaper, sometimes read front to back, or back to front, or by my doggie, when ive shut down finally. Thankyou.

  3. I could not agree more, so I will add what I can. One of the problems I find with venting online is the never ending fear that my case manager may be reading it and identify me. This would lead to more harassment and further cat and mouse games with punishment metered out by appointments to IMEs, annoying my GP and threats to discontinue my benefits. After having written to newspapers, members of parliament, unions, going to meetings of injured workers and on and on, I can honestly say that the cumulative effect of banging my head against a brick wall has done absolutely nothing to alleviate my anger and rage. This system has damaged me mentally, even though my injury is physical which is why I feel a strange gratitude for not being a victim of a workplace psychological injury, I have great empathy for those who have suffered that, how the hell do they cope?
    Without accountability there can be no progress and as the Insurance industry does not have to follow basic human rights laws in this country, they should be forced out of the system. Despite all its faults, let the government run Workers Compensation, at least we can vote for them and hold them accountable. This system is a total and utter failure !!!!!

    • hi bunny could we talk somehow is the away to give you my email so you could maybe help with this petition I hope to write it up and if you could read it add your take on it , fix all my mistakes lol and we could get it up ,we need to all ask our doctors to sign and anyone else who sees what happens to us all

      • That is fine Suzanne, I do not mind WCV giving you my e mail.

        • @Suzanne – if you could provide a contact email address (i.e. alias or your own) via email to aworkcovervictimsdiary (use contact page), I can then forward you Bunny’s email address.
          Note: I am also willing to help with the petition, however at the moment I am consumed by “other stressful things” (read between the lines)-give it a week or 2 and I should be able to help out.

    • The Workers Compensation seems to work OK for minor injuries.

      From my experience, I found that as soon as it becomes apparent that rehabilitation is likely to be lengthy (over 3 months) or that an injury is serious enough that a full return to work is unlikely, then the insurer dirty tricks start to emerge.

      It is the treatment (or mistreatment) of the more seriously injured that is the problem. And, in percentage terms, as the more seriously injured are in the minority, it is harder to get heard or get traction in the media. It is not a major vote winner for politicians because of the media blitz over many decades highlighting the fraudsters.
      The sins of the minority who rorted the system in the past, created the environment for the Workers Compensation insurance companies to run their scare campaign that has highly successful.

      Yep, everyone knows that the system is broken. The mindset is beat people up and they will comply.

      However, progressive thinkers understand that encouragement and guidance will always get a much better outcome than threats &/or intimidation – be it students, athletes, sports-people, employees or injured workers.

      Until the mindset changes, we will be stuck in the same looping pattern. Sad but true.

read-before-u-commentThis is a statement pointing you to our seriously injured but esteemed and honourable Social Networking Sites Warning and our comment policy. A must read in the context of a very adversarial workcover system! Remember to mention in which state you reside if you seek advice.

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