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WorkSafe Victoria accused of being unsafe

I am not sure if you are aware but “Brodies Law” (legislation) was introduced not long after Victorian teenager Brodie Panlock tragically committed suicide after having been bullied by her colleagues at a cafe she worked in.

WorkSafe Victoria, the very organisation that has recently been campaigning itself silly for an increase in the reporting of workplace bullying, has been and is still being alleged of itself [WorkSafe] having a culture of bullying and harassment.

The  WorkSafe’s union says that it has handled at least 100 claims of bullying and harassment in the last 5 years, and has handled 20 this year!!!


WorkSafe anti-bullying poster

Did you know that currently (as I am writing), a former WorkSafe employee is pursuing a claim in the Federal Court, after she claims she was bullied and harassed by her colleagues and management at WorkSafe (Victoria)?!

The suing  former WorkSafe employee claims she suffered depression, anxiety and serious humiliation while working at WorkSafe.

On 28 July 2011, the now former WorkSafe employee, lodged a WorkCover claim, after she was advised by her doctor that she was too stressed to work.

Within hours of submitting the claim, the employee’s employment was terminated by WorkSafe.

The former WorkSafe employee initially had attempted to negotiate a settlement in Fair Work Australia, however these attempts were unsuccessful and the employee has since commenced proceedings in the Federal Court.

Amongst her allegations, the former WorkSafe employee says that she suffered relentless bullying in the form of:

  • “Constantly being ignored in the workplace
  • Regularly being yelled at aggressively and loudly
  • Constant negative scrutiny of her work
  • She was  routinely excluded from events in the workplace
  • Withholding of vital information relevant to her role
  • Belittling, undermining verbal abuse in front of other employees.” will keep you posted on further developments on this matter.

Well, maybe this inbred culture of bullying and harassment at WorkSafe explains a lot for the “Advisory” Officers / Complaint officers’ behaviour! As I mentioned in one of my posts, on one recent occasion, during a telephone complaint to WorkSafe Victoria, I had a most RUDE chap “dealing with my complaint”. The guy did not even listen, cut me off half sentence and had the cheek to tell me that the [insurer agent] has the right to decide and refuse medical treatment/care!!!! WTF??? I told him politely that ” No, sir, the Law decides what is a reasonable medical service or not”, which is true! Bloody idiot! I guess the guy must be bullied and harassed so badly himself that he just takes it out, in turn, on us, work cover victims.

It may also explain why WorkSafe routinely passes on our complaints (after falsely telling us in writing that “they take our complaint serious and will conduct and investigation into the matter” – yeah bollocks!) to their little numpty mates next door (the workcover insurer case managers – whith whom they probably have lunch together and laugh about our “complaints” too). It may also explain why WorkSafe staff are too stressed to actually deal with our complaints, as clearly demonstrated in my post about Worksafe complaints yesterday.


Complaint page 9 - click to enlarge

About WorkSafe complaints: F-off approach

Following yesterdays post about Xchanging sending the debt collectors in my neck, because those pathetic penny-pinchers have been refusing to pay for a most reasonable medical blood test, prescribed by my treating upper limb specialist surgeon on 24 August and undertaken on 5 September, for the sole purpose of evaluating an infection in my shoulder.

Miserably failing to settle this trivial matter with my case manager from hell – who by the way remains SILENT on all matters I raise in writing -I spent half a day crafting and dictating a lengthily complaint letter to the WorkSafe complaints department.

By lunchtime I managed to email my complaint (attached in a PDF file) to  the , WorkSafe’s official complaint email address.

My complaint raised two issues, namely the refusal or stalling of the blood test account, and I also took the opportunity to raise another nagging matter, that of an approved – in writing- taxi travel, which was ‘suspended’ a week later based on Xchanging’s need “for further medical information”. It is worth noting that I was sent to no less than two independent medical examinations for the purpose to “objectively assess” my medical need for taxi travel to and from medical appointments (and both IME reports strongly support that need). My own GP and treating surgeon also support, of course, the need for taxi transport. Xchanging’s “need for further medical information” was conveyed to me well over two months ago, and by-God, I haven’t got the slightest clue of where they intent to get that “medical information from” either. They certainly have not asked for any medical information from my own treaters and Xchanging has also not requested that I attend any other IMEs….

My WorkSafe complaint summary

This is the content of my email to WorkSafe -The original formal and very detailed complaint was sent in a separate attached PDF file (as well as other evidence).

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My WorkSafe complaint: full document

complaint page 1 - click to enlarge

Complaint page 2 - click to enlarge

Complaint page 3 - click to enlarge

Complaint page 4 - click to enlarge

Complaint page 5 - click to enlarge

Complaint page 6 - click to enlarge

Complaint page 7 - click to enlarge

Complaint page 8 - click to enlarge

Complaint page 9 - click to enlarge

Complaint page 10 -click to enlarge

Complaint page 11 - click to enlargeAbout WorkSafe Complaints

Anyhow,… I was most shocked, horrified and seriously sickened when I received the following email from the WorkSafe complaints department in response to my complaint this afternoon:

WorkSafe’s response number 1

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As you can see, WorkSafe clearly does not even READ my complaint but goes on to state that my complaint relates to a complaint made in September (since when??? I last complained on 4 November regarding the denied surgery and included the blood test account and taxi travel which were NOT addressed!).  And what is this story about a “rejection” and wanting to “have a decision over-turned”? For f*ck’s sake, are these people illiterate or what? What does the summary of my email complaint say, what does my full complaint state huh? Is it that badly written? Chinese? Especially considering that I clearly mention that I had raised these issues in an email to WorkSafe on 6 November (and not heard back as yet!)

Extract of email sent to WorkSafe on 6 November 2011

click to enlarge (just an extract for the taxi issue is also in it...)

My response to WorkSafe’s email

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WorkSafe’s response number 2

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Clearly same sh*t, different email, f*cking -hands-off-pass-the-buck and WorkSafe tells me to ring Xchanging, WTF? Xchanging is NOT responding! They’re NOT f*cking answering any of my letters or emails, so what am I supposed to do?

Shows you what WorkSafe complaints process is about – certainly NOT about protecting injured workers and their miserable little rights – no, they actually dig you deeper in the sh*t, I tell you… it’s hands-off/piss-off approach/ suck-it-up,…. well, see and judge for yourself.

WorkSafe does obviously not read my (and your) complaint, they make some quick whatever unfounded ‘story’ up that does not make any sense at all referring to complaints I (you) have not made and making false accusations that you are requesting to have “decisions overturned” or implying that you are fraudulently coercing the agent to settle an account (helloooo, even I know that the ACCS deals with this sort of issues), and/ or say you gotta sort the matter out with the insurer (but what’s WorkSafe’s complaints department for then?)…

I have no decisions from Xchanging, that’s the problem! I can’t even get a bloody rejection letter out of them for taxi travel SO THAT I CAN APPEAL THE MATTER AT THE ACCS!!! The morons just ‘suspend’ my taxi travel based on “waiting for further medical info” for yonks and in fact they could make me wait forever like this (consider that the request was made half a f*cking year ago!). Xchanging has not given/issued me with a rejection letter for the blood test account, no explanation, no nothing, just the usual stall, delay tactic until I become so desperate that I am going to have to borrow money to pay for it myself and then, out of sheer desperation and poverty, claim it on Medicare, thereby committing Federal Fraud as Ben (our very lotal reader& great commenter) said yesterday.

Tell me,  is my letter badly written or what? I mean English is my third language (I speak and write 4 languages fluently and a couple basically) or am I missing something here?

For f*ck’s sake where is our protector, supporter, ‘arbitrator’, mediator? What does WorkSafe stand for? In particular what does their “advisory service” (aka complaints department) really stand for?

According to WorkSafe’s flashy website, Worksafe:

view site

So, I had no option but to sent this same complaint letter to the most pathetic, corrupt “Customer Service” from Xchanging (aka Complaints department) via email and cc’d WorkSafe for the f*ck of it.  See what’ll happen…

Sh*t, f*uck I am so angry! Has anyone got some Valium that can be emailed stat?

PS Sorry for all the *swearing*

Related post: Worksafe complaints: there is no process

WorkSafe complaints: there is no process

According to WorkSafe’s website, WorkSafe is committed to improving its service. “As part of our commitment, we actively encourage feedback from stakeholders who are dissatisfied with the service they have received from either us or anyone acting on our behalf (for example our WorkSafe Agents, independent medical examiners, Occupational Rehabilitation Providers, Plant Licence Assessors etc).”

“Our complaints processes reaffirm our commitment to our corporate values of being constructive, accountable, transparent, effective and caring. All complaints are investigated thoroughly in accordance with the principles of natural justice.”


How to make a complaint to WorkSafe

To lodge a complaint directly with us, you can call, write or email us.

Investigation of WorkSafe Complaints according to the WorkSafe policy

Complaints will be investigated in accordance with the following principles:

  • All complaints will be investigated by an appropriately authorised person
  • The investigation of complaints must be fair to both the complainant and the organisation or individual being complained about
  • With the exception of complaints about WorkSafe Inspector Conduct which are referred to the WorkSafe Compliance Co-ordination Branch (CCB), complaints about the conduct of a VWA staff member are to be referred directly to the respective staff member’s Manager for investigation. Only the Manager will collect information about the nature of the complaint
  • Any Whistleblower complaints will be investigated in accordance with the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001. These complaints are referred directly to the Protected Disclosure Officer
  • Complaints will be dealt with quickly and complainants will be treated courteously
  • The complaints handling process will have the capacity to determine and implement remedies
  • Where matters cannot be satisfactorily resolved by the complaints process the complainant will be advised of the independent external avenues to resolve the complaint.

View WorkSafe’s Complaint’s Policy



Interestingly, after I was promised an “investigation” into my complaint, I received this email  today….

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So, as you can see, here is the PROOF that WorkSafe just passes on the ‘buck’ to the Agent (Xchanging) without investigating the complaint and/or mediating a resolution. What f*cking difference will it make if they send the complaint back to Xhanging? I have written to Xchanging about 10 times already about the matter, and my lawyer is also involved.

Is this “natural justice?”

More bullying alleged at WorkSafe

THE agency that investigates workplace bullying in Victoria has been accused of fostering its own culture of widespread bullying, sparking calls for an independent inquiry.

An investigation by The Age into WorkSafe has revealed a toxic environment at the watchdog, with staff complaining of being bullied by their bosses and a culture of fear.

WorkSafe’s union has handled almost 100 bullying and stress complaints against the agency in the past five years, with more than 20 so far this year.

Senior WorkSafe staff say they know of eight bullying-related complaints currently before, or heading to, Fair Work Australia.

People are really scared to talk,” said a recently resigned WorkSafe staff member, one of 20 current and former employees, union workers and safety experts interviewed by The Age. ”How can we tell other people how to deal with bullying in their workplaces when we don’t?”

The Community and Public Sector Union has called for an inquiry into WorkSafe’s culture. The call was backed by a WorkSafe inspector. ”We think the culture’s rotten. I would welcome an inquiry and I would be prepared to give evidence.”

This comes as a key executive – who was accused of bullying and discrimination- resigned suddenly recently.

As the regulator, WorkSafe might be expected to be an exemplary employer, but the treatment of its own 1140 staff throws doubt more broadly on its ability to recognise and tackle workplace bullying, a Baillieu government priority.

Morale has plummeted at WorkSafe, with this year’s employee survey result – one of the worst for years – described as “disappointing” by chief executive Greg Tweedly.

Compared to the Australian average, WorkSafe employees were more likely to feel negative about working relationships, leadership and direction. One in three staff believed management did not care about their health, safety and wellbeing.

The Age investigation revealed widespread distrust of WorkSafe’s approach to internal complaints. When a consultant is commissioned to investigate, the terms of reference and the final report are kept secret from the complainant.

In one case involving a complaint of bullying, the human resources department discussed a ”creative option” of offering redundancy to the complainant. In several cases, the WorkSafe-appointed investigator refused to interview witnesses suggested by the complainants.

Union state secretary Karen Batt said her complaints to Mr Tweedly and the WorkSafe board had gone unheeded, and she now wanted an inquiry into the agency’s culture.

Ms Batt said WorkSafe should call in trained health and safety inspectors from other states to investigate internal complaints. ”The current process means WorkSafe is unaccountable. When the regulator has the problem, where do you go? The staff at WorkSafe should have the same rights as other workers to have their health and safety rights addressed independently.”

Some WorkSafe staff described the general culture as toxic and poisonous. ”The regulator needs to practise what it preaches – and lead the way on workplace bullying,” said one staff member.

An inspector told The Age that one WorkSafe department contained “the biggest bullies in the organisation“. The department

was trying to pressure a long-term inspector who had a significant medical issue to resign. WorkSafe has denied the claim.

Some said bullying existed only in pockets. “I didn’t have the experience of it being widespread,” said a former employee, who was aware of alleged bullying by a director of junior staff.

Mr Tweedly, in an interview with The Age, denied WorkSafe had a bullying problem, backed his managers and described the internal dispute processes as robust. Any complaints, he said, were probably related to “hotspots” of change.

After years of overseeing the best workplace safety statistics in Australia, WorkSafe in 2007 set an ambitious five-year plan, and change, Mr Tweedly said, was necessary to meet these “big, hairy, audacious goals”.

“It’s a tough thing to change people’s jobs and we try to do it with as much empathy as possible, but we are here to serve Victorians and so change is something we are always going to do,” he said. Worksafe’s latest figures show that while its own employees are lodging fewer compensation claims, the cost per claim has doubled due to ”very complex stress claims”.

Jillian Ramsden, who was sacked hours after she lodged a compensation claim for bullying at WorkSafe, is taking her case to Fair Work Australia. “I don’t think I ever felt more isolated in my entire life,” she said of her three-month stint in the health services area. “It is a very toxic, cold, hard place and I suspect it comes from the top.”

Her lawyer, Maurice Blackburn’s Josh Bornstein, said WorkSafe needed fundamental cultural change. He is campaigning for better anti-bullying laws.

WorkSafe’s advisory line was swamped by a 300 per cent increase in calls about workplace bullying after its prosecution of the men who taunted waitress Brodie Panlock at Hawthorn’s Cafe Vamp. The teenager committed suicide, prompting the enactment of ”Brodie’s law”, enshrining workplace bullying in the Crimes Act. But WorkSafe has had less success prosecuting cases that contain no aspect of physical assault – the large spectrum of cases involving behaviour risking psychological harm. WorkSafe has only successfully prosecuted one such case, Mr Tweedly said.

Some staff said the culture worsened with the appointment of a particular executive who had overseen restructures in a division of WorkSafe.

We witnessed a culture of fear,” one employee said. ”People were intimidated in meetings. On a day-to-day level, people were in tears constantly.”

Manager’s conduct left worker hurt, anxious and depressed

IT STARTED with little things. School teacher-like red pen corrections on the WorkSafe staffer’s work and being isolated in private rooms for one-on-one meetings that normally took place in an open-plan office.

Before long it escalated to aggressive criticism in front of workmates and questions about performance.

In 2009 the employee, suffering from depression and anxiety, lodged a formal bullying complaint against a senior manager at WorkSafe.

WorkSafe, the organisation charged with investigating workplace safety – including bullying – was faced with investigating itself.

The bullying complaints were subject to an independent investigation but not fully substantiated, with the staffer saying she was denied natural justice. More than 10 witnesses the complainant suggested for the probe were not interviewed.

But the story did not end there.

What started as claims of bullying led to allegations of discrimination against a WorkSafe executive.

Around the time of the 2009 bullying investigation, the WorkSafe employee moved to a different section of the authority. About a year later, the complainant was allegedly told by her new manager that an executive had tried to interfere with the change to that new role.

The executive allegedly called the manager while she was travelling to a WorkSafe-sponsored netball match to tell her not to give the bullying complainant the new position.

That conversation was allegedly heard by a third party.

The Age has been told that learning about that phone call left the complainant physically and emotionally unwell, with high levels of anxiety. By April 2011, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and decided to leave WorkSafe.

Before leaving, she lodged a complaint alleging she had been discriminated against for raising the original 2009 bullying allegations, citing the phone call from the executive.

The complainant has asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate after WorkSafe is believed to have told her that it could not make a decision on whether to prosecute itself.

The WorkSafe employee declined to comment on the bullying and discrimination allegations when contacted by The Age but said the safety authority had a ”toxic work environment”.


Agency accused of not working to its own workplace guidelines

YOU’VE probably seen the ads. The contemplative middle-aged father with a back injury slowly returns to work on his doctor’s advice, backed by a broody Dido soundtrack.

The tag line: ”More often than not, helping an injured worker get back to work sooner is the best medicine.”

But does WorkSafe itself listen to its own advice?

The Age has learned of one bullying case where a WorkSafe employee wanted to return to the office while on stress leave to catch up with colleagues but was allegedly told to stay away.

The WorkSafe staffer first reported the bullying in early 2009, with a stress claim accepted.

In a letter to WorkSafe chief executive Greg Tweedly, the staffer told of how she returned to work during a five-week stress leave period to have a coffee with colleagues and start the process of returning to work.

The staffer was told by an email from a WorkSafe executive to stay out of the office.

The staffer wrote to Mr Tweedly in 2010: ”This devastated me and is in stark conflict with the message in your Return to Work advertisements which encourages employers to ring their injured workers with words of encouragement and to make them feel that they are welcome back into the workplace.”

And there’s more.

Based on information contained in a secret personal file, provided to the staffer during the protracted handling of her complaint, the staffer learned of an internal WorkSafe human resources department meeting in early 2009.

That meeting discussed the bullying allegations and the ”creative option” of offering a redundancy as a response. In October that year, the staffer was made redundant.

(A performance review rated as ”needs to improve” was subsequently overturned by a WorkSafe executive.)

Unhappy with her treatment by WorkSafe, the staffer wrote to former WorkCover minister Tim Holding in October 2009, asking him to investigate.

It took Mr Holding’s office nine months to investigate, finding that one of WorkSafe’s agents had provided advice that breached workplace laws, and WorkSafe agreed to change some of its processes on internal allegations.

The staffer summed up her case in the letter to Mr Holding, saying: ”WorkSafe should apply the same guidelines to bullying within their organisation as they are required to do externally.”

[Source: David Rood and Melissa Fyfe September 19, 2011 Read more:]


And so, I guess it is no wonder that we, workcover victims are bullied to death by our workcover insurance case manager(s)….

A complaint to WorkSafe about bullying by a workcover insurance carrier just gets passed along to the next big bully….




Victorian WorkSafe Awards-how transparent is the nomination process?

WorkSafe Victoria held its 2011 Work Safe Awards night last week. Whilst WorkSafe changed its award process, continues to question whether the awards “process”, and thus the nominations are as “transparent” as they are alleged to be….

A had previously posted a -what it thought- was an interesting article (with reference to its original website) about the WorkSafe awards and judging, however, the author of the article expressed dissatisfaction with the publishing of the referenced article and has requested I remove the article and excerpts immediately, as I had not explicitly asked for permission and had not explicitly referenced to the ‘author’ of the article. My apologies. It was certainly NOT my intention to just “steal” the article as I had linked it to its source (with name of the site).


You may recall the post “why and how a workcover victim was unlawfully sacked“. Just prior to the unlawful and most disgusting way of sacking this injured victim, said victim was approached by ‘Mr Wellbeing’ (aka Director of Health and Safety)  and was asked a ‘favour’; to namely complete a number of forms and papers so that Mr Wellbeing could enter the above WorkSafe Awards (last year) for a potential nomination for “winner of best return to work practice’… Hahaha, very nice try, Mr Wellbeing.

And that is how truly TRANSPARENT these ‘awards’ really are!!! They’re a fuck*ing joke (most of the time) as many injured workcover victims, who may be in the most inappropriate ‘suitable duties” or so-called ‘return-to-work-plans’ are only being COERCED into signing and completing ‘forms’ and ‘writing their pathetic stories’ at GUN POINT. Should said victim refuse to ‘cooperate’ they will be sacked. Should they cooperate and make up the fictitious story (such as in the very true case mentioned) said victim got the sack anyway.


WorkSafe spends $15 million on secret surveillance on injury victims

ALMOST $15 million of taxpayers’ money was spent last year by WorkSafe in spying on Victorians who say they were injured at work or on the roads.

WorkSafe and the Transport Accident Commission blame the burgeoning bill on the growth in legal claims.

Figures obtained by Freedom of Information show that in 2010-11, WorkSafe 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.

In 2010-11 the TAC spent more than $809,000 on surveillance in 501 claims, about a 70 per cent rise in spying, and spending, on 2009-10.

It says that in the past five years there has been a 90 per cent surge in damages lawsuits lodged by motorists.

WorkSafe said it had seen a 20 per cent rise in common law claims in several years.

Slater and Gordon lawyer Craig Sidebottom said the WorkSafe surveillance bill was “extremely alarming”.

“It’s extraordinary that they could waste $14 million a year on snooping and spying. I think WorkSafe are probably spying on more people in Victoria than ASIO,” he said.

He said surveillance seemed to be almost “a default position” and WorkSafe should exercise more discretion, so millions weren’t spent spying on the innocent.

“We accept that people doing the wrong thing should be caught, but WorkSafe doesn’t seem to need a . . . reason to spy on you,” he said.

“They release the hounds with little thought or restraint. Severely injured workers are being made to feel like criminals because they simply seek to pursue their proper entitlements.”

But WorkSafe deputy chief executive Ian Forsyth said surveillance was mostly about determining the extent of injury, not fraud. Often, it led to a claim being reduced or dropped, and helped keep premiums down.

“It helps us make sure we are providing the benefits to which an injured worker is entitled – no more, but importantly no less,” he said.

About 90,000 injured workers a year depend on WorkSafe for benefits. Mr Forsyth said WorkSafe paid out about $1.4 billion a year and increases could affect the scheme’s sustainability.

Australian Industry Group Victorian director Tim Piper said investigating claims gave employers confidence.

“(It makes) sure people are honest,” he said.

TAC chief executive Janet Dore said surveillance could save the TAC millions of dollars in the long term.

“Unfortunately some people – and it’s very much the minority – don’t do quite the right thing by us,” she said.

She said there were strict guidelines for surveillance.

But Slater and Gordon lawyer Janine Gregory said a TAC claim would rarely be withdrawn over surveillance.

“By and large it’s a waste of taxpayer money,” she said.

From: Herald Sun
October 03, 2011

Slater and Gordon, in a media release, further stated that the surveillance of injured workers is out of control

Government figures revealing that nearly $14 million has been spent on the surveillance of injured workers in the past year has confirmed that the practice is out of control, according to Slater & Gordon lawyers.

Slater & Gordon workers compensation lawyer Craig Sidebottom said the large amount of money being spenton surveillance, as revealed by the Herald Sun today, was “extremely alarming”.

Mr Sidebottom said the funds would be better spent on preventing workplace injuries and helping the injured get back to work than “spying on innocent citizens”.

“I think Victorians would be outraged to learn that the Victorian WorkCover Authority is wasting $14m a year on snooping and spying on injured people,” Mr Sidebottom said.

“Imagine being an injured worker, knowing that people are in cars are hiding around corners, filming you andyour family, for days or weeks on end. They could be watching you when you are doing the shopping, on yourway to see the doctor or even spending time with your kids. “

He said many of the firm’s WorkCover clients had been subjected to “unwarranted and unnecessary” surveillance.

“We are finding that all too often, when someone has lodged a common law claim, they are being followed around and subjected to surveillance. It is a gross invasion of privacy.”

“Our clients are being investigated at a time when they are trying to recover from a major injury and instead of being focussed on that recovery, they are dealing with being filmed and watched while carrying out their ordinary business.”

Mr Sidebottom said the level of funding spent on surveillance needed to be reviewed and capped.

“It’s deeply concerning that the authority does not appear to be showing any restraint in this area. We accept that people doing the wrong thing should be caught, but the VWA seems to be doing it with little thought or restraint.”

Millions are being spent putting good, honest people under surveillance. We question the level of time and the large amounts of money being spent, for what is a very limited return.”

“It is time for the VWA to rein themselves in – investigators should only be engaged by the VWA when there is a reason to suspect a fraud being committed, not just someone is lodging a compensation claim.”

“The VWA needs to redirect its funds to preventing workplace injuries and helping injured workers get back to work.”


It appears to me though that the excessive surveillance used by workcover is NOT to expose or discover fraudulent claimants, but to use the selective video surveillance material (that 10 second gotcha shot) to mitigate their losses – that is: to heavily reduce the compensation payout to the genuinely injured person. You may want to read our article/post about the tactics used by private investigators to get those famous 10 second shots, to get a better understanding about the abuse of surveillance!

Also of interest: an interesting court case about using video surveillance



Bullying complaints made to WorkSafe Victoria have more than doubled

Bullying complaints made to WorkSafe Victoria have more than doubled

The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported that the number of complaints to WorkSafe from Victorian workers, alleging they have been bullied at work, have more than doubled to 6000 in the past year.
In summary, the report found that:
  • No action was taken on the vast majority of complaints, as many complaints fell short of what constitutes workplace bullying under the law.
  • It is believed the increase in complaints is largely attributable to greater awareness about bullying, particularly after the case of Brodie Panlock, a 19 year old waitress, who committed suicide in 2006 after being bullied by four colleagues at a Hawthorn café, came to light.
  • The most significant increase in bullying complaints came after Ms Panlock’s former colleagues and the owner of the café were found guilty and fined in February last year. A month earlier, Worksafe received 150 complaints. In February 2010 the number of complaints rose to 550 calls and in March 2010 it was 750.
  • Of the 6000 bullying complaints made to WorkSafe, only 10 per cent were referred to the bullying response unit. Of those referrals, one in 10 resulted in an inspector visiting a workplace to conduct further inquiries.
  • Many of the complaints have been referred to other organisations such as Fair Work Australia, which deals with industrial disputes, unfair dismissal and employment conditions, and the Australian Human Rights Commission, which deals with equal opportunity and discrimination.
  • Ian Forsyth, WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, commented on the disparity between the number of complaints made and those actually investigated:

”We’re certainly not saying that these people aren’t suffering from some form of ill treatment or some form of injustice or that they’re not genuinely feeling that they’ve been disadvantaged or put under pressure. But in the vast majority of incidents these types of behaviours which they might describe as bullying are not going to meet the criteria for us to investigate or prosecute.”

WorkSafe recommends that if you are concerned about mistreatment or bullying at work you should immediately raise the issue with the appropriate person in your workplace.

Mind you, WorkSafe has it’s own (alledged) problem with internal bullying…

Making a complaint about workcover

Following yesterday’s rather popular post about “making (non)sense about IMEs” I have decided to lodge (yet again) a formal complaint with WorkSafe about the inappropriate behaviour of my case manager from hell. Whilst looking for the complaint form, I thought I’d just share some things about making a complaint about workcover…

What is a workcover complaint?

A complaint is any written or verbal expression of dissatisfaction with:

  • the service provided by, or
  • the conduct of the Victorian WorkCover Authority including WorkSafe Victoria, its WorkCover Agents, WorkCover Assist, self insurers, Independent Medical Examiners, Occupational Rehabilitation Providers, Legal Panel, Private Investigators or WorkSafe Authorised Certificate Assessors
  • Complaints about licensed or registered service providers are not included in the scope of this definition
  • A complaint also includes dissatisfaction with any aspect of the WorkCover legislation or scheme.

A complaint can include the following:

  • any claims issues (for example poor decision making, poor explanations, lack of/incorrect information provided, poor/inappropriate communication)
  • the performance of WorkSafe functions, or the way these functions and decisions are communicated
  • premium issues/objections
  • conciliation non-compliance
  • matters of conduct about an employee of the VWA or WorkCover Agent(s), including inappropriate behaviour
  • non-compliance or delays in complying with requests for information made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 or the Accident Compensation Act 1985
  • inadequate or inappropriate handling of personal information, including potential breaches of the Privacy Act 1988  or other relevant acts
  • complaints about employers not meeting their obligations as specified in the Accident Compensation Act 1985, and associated VWA and Workcover Agent enforcement requirements

Who can make a complaint about workcover?

  • an injured worker, their representative or family member
  • Workers
  • Health and Safety Representatives or members of the public
  • an employer
  • a union official
  • healthcare professional treating an injured worker
  • Members of Parliament
  • Ombudsman
  • the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service

How can you make a complaint?

Complaints may be received in many ways: verbally (face-to-face or over the phone); written ;email (via the web or email addresses).

Download the WorkSafe complaint form

Read about the complaints process

Complaint about workcover staff (i.e. your case manager)

You need to lodge your complaint directly with us either by

If you need assistance to lodge a complaint, contact our WorkSafe’s Advisory Service.

How will the complaint be investigated?

Complaints will be investigated in accordance with the following principles:

•  All complaints will be investigated by an appropriately authorised person.

•  The investigation of complaints must be fair to both the complainant and the organisation or individual being complained about.

•  With the exception of complaints about WorkSafe Inspector Conduct which are referred to the WorkSafe Compliance Co-ordination Branch (CCB), complaints about the conduct of a VWA staff member are to be referred directly to the respective staff member’s Manager for investigation. Only the Manager will collect information about the nature of the complaint.

•  Any Whistleblower complaints will be investigated in accordance with the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001. These complaints are referred directly to the Protected Disclosure Officer.

•  Complaints will be dealt with quickly and complainants will be treated courteously.

•  The complaints handling process will have the capacity to determine and implement remedies.

•  Where matters cannot be satisfactorily resolved by the complaints process the complainant will be advised of the independent external avenues to resolve the complaint.

Referral of complaints

•  Complaints may be referred to another area, in accordance with the following:Staff in the WorkCover Advisory Service will endeavour to resolve the complaint personally unless the complaint relates to Premium, an Independent Medical Examiner or the conduct of a VWA staff member. If this is not possible, they may refer it to their direct manager.

•  Any claims-related complaint that requires detailed investigation is to be referred to the Complaints Resolution Branch.

•  The Complaints Resolution Branch is responsible for investigating claims related complaints and any consultation with business subject experts.

•  Any Workplace Injury Insurance related complaint or objection is to be referred to the Premium Division for investigation.

•  Complaints about WorkSafe matters will either be handled by the WorkCover Advisory Service (OH&S Team) or referred to the relevant manager or the WorkSafe CCB.

VWA’s agents are expected to resolve complaints directly within their own complaints procedures rather than escalating to the VWA.

If the complaint needs to be referred to another organisation for investigation, the VWA will notify the complainant.