Last week, NSW launched an inquiry into the possibility and feasability of a consolidated personal injury tribunal to resolve workcover disputes as well as CTP disputes. This was recommended by last year’s massive review of the NSW workers compensation system.
It is with great pleasure that we announce that NSW Minister Greg Pearce, the corrupt architect of the NSW workcover reforms, has finally been sacked today. Karma! Karma!
The Opposition says the resignation of WorkCover’s CEO in South Australia will create more problems for the organisation, reports ABC news. Rob Thomson has resigned immediately for [ahum] personal reasons, after about two years in the role.
Stories about workplace bullying don’t get any worse than this. There can be no more turning a blind eye, laws have to change to introduce substantial fines for organisations and individuals as well as jail sentences.
Workplace bullying double tragedy
THE tragic case of a brother and sister who committed suicide after the brother was systematically bullied and sexually abused in his first full-time job was just one of about 200 submissions sent to an inquiry into workplace bullying.
The parliamentary inquiry held a hearing on Friday, which included “impact statements” from 18 victims and family members of workplace bullying.
The actual content of the victims’ statements cannot be reported for legal reasons.
But the committee recently started publicly releasing edited versions of submissions from victims.
One submission was sent in by the parents of a teenage boy who left high school at age 16 to start work as an apprentice chef at a local hospital.
It detailed an ingrained culture of workplace bullying in the hospital kitchen, including put-downs, jokes at his expense, sexual innuendo, tampering with his belongings, and later, sexual abuse.
After more than two years of putting up with the constant bullying by his immediate supervisor, and co-workers ignoring the harassment, his parents found out he had started using marijuana.
“After almost two years the other apprentice spoke up about what had been going on, she admitted that “what happened to (him) was 10 times worse than what happened to here”,” the submission reads.
“(He) had begun to feel that he was to blame for what had happened. His self esteem was low; he said that he must be weak to not be able to put up with it like all the others had.”
The submission said the culture of bullying at the kitchen was so ingrained the attitude of many long-serving staff was that “it had happened to them so put up with it”.
“Most staff turned a blind eye or laughed along with the taunting,” the submission reads.
“There was a climate of fear and intimidation in the kitchen to remain silent about the bullying.”
The submission then detailed how months after the bullying was officially reported, it continued, eventually causing the young man to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.
The two years of bullying must have felt like an eternity to the young man, who confided in his youngest sister “the extent of the bullying and sexual abuse he had suffered”.
“When Worksafe finally did an investigation our youngest daughter believed that the abuse would be reported in the local paper,” the submission reads.
“She was fearful of (his) reaction due to the extent of the abuse he suffered.
“(She) took her life the week after Worksafe had rang and told us they had finished their investigation and would let us know within the next few weeks if they had enough evidence to take it to court.
“(He) blamed himself for his sister’s death and he too ended his life just one month later.”
Barry is trying to abuse common law rights AGAIN !!!! You have a right to remain silent and you also have the right to consort as can be seen by the second article. Not looking good for him with his Workers Comp abuse of common law.
Barry O Farrell’s Ignorance Of The Law
O’Farrell flags right-to-silence change
- August 14, 2012 5:38PM
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has flagged legislative changes which will allow judges and juries to form an adverse view of people who exercise their right to remain silent.
The “right-to-silence” caution given by police would include the proviso that not saying anything “may harm your defence”, under draft legislation to be finalised by the end of the month.
Similar changes were introduced in the UK in 1994.
Mr O’Farrell said criminals are exploiting the current law which prevents judges and juries from taking a negative view of a refusal to co-operate with police.
The proposed changes would “tilt the scales of justice in favour of police and victims”, he said.
“For too long it’s been too easy for criminals to hide behind the right to silence,” Mr O’Farrell told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.
“We’re going to amend the law to enable juries and judges to take an adverse inference from an accused person who refused to divulge facts to police but then later produces so-called evidence in order to provide an excuse.
“It’s aimed to ensure that those that are guilty can’t use legal precepts to hide their guilt.”
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said police had been asking for changes to the right to silence for many years.
“The UK model has led to, amongst other things, a decrease in the number of suspects that are actually remaining silent when they are questioned by police,” Mr Scipione said.
“This has got to be a good thing for victims in this state. That has to help police.”
The NSW Police Association said the proposed changes were long overdue, describing them as a “win for common sense”.
“This is a major move towards making the job of police officers a little bit easier and towards making the community a safer place,” president Scott Weber said in a statement.
“The changes will help make sure that criminals face the punishment they deserve and are not let off simply because they refuse to talk.
“It will lead to more suspected criminals working with police and providing information, and that can only be a good thing for the people of NSW.”
Greens MP David Shoebridge accused the government of “trashing a 400-year-old right to silence”.
“The reason the right to silence has stood so long is because it protects individuals from the heavy handed use of police powers,” Mr Shoebridge said in a statement.
“You don’t institute fundamental law reform that applies to everyone to deal with only a limited number of hardened criminals.
“If organised criminals are getting smarter the solution is smarter policing, not the erosion of a fundamental pillar of the justice system.”
Man to be freed after anti-bikie conviction set aside
The first person jailed under New South Wales’s new consorting laws is set to be released after his conviction was set aside.
Charlie Foster has withdrawn his plea of guilty to consorting with three friends and housemates in the town of Inverell.
The 21-year-old disability pensioner has served six weeks of a maximum 12-month sentence under the legislation, which outlaws repeated communication with convicted criminals.
Today Judge Clive Jeffreys ordered the charge be tested again in a local court after prosecutors conceded the conviction relied on an inadequate police case.
They have told the court a magistrate should consider a fresh brief of evidence prepared by police earlier this month.
Foster will be released on bail next month once he has served time for lesser offences.
No change to the laws
Premier Barry O’Farrell has defended the laws and the way Police are using them
“Until such time as there is an adverse finding by a Court or Magistracy I’ll continue to have my confidence in the law and in its operation,” he said.
Yet another petition. It is hoped that these petitions will have an impact. More petitions on the way so we’re led to believe. We agree with Mr Donnelly “The legislative changes are a wholesale attack on the industrial rights of NSW’s 3.5 million workers and their families.”
WorkCover changes are a wholesale attack on the industrial rights
Unions back workers compo petition
WITH North Coast union support, the State Opposition has launched a petition against the O’Farrell Government’s workers’ compensation laws.
Country Labor MLC for Coffs Harbour Greg Donnelly is collecting the signatures of North Coast workers on a petition to be presented in State Parliament.
Mr Donnelly said the unfair workers compensation laws were rushed through in the dead of night, just before the NSW Parliament broke for its winter recess.
“At 2:35am on June 22, the Nationals Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser along with his Coalition colleagues, voted in favour of legislation that significantly reduces and in some cases abolished workers’ compensation rights for injured workers and their families,” Mr Donnelly said.
“The legislative changes are a wholesale attack on the industrial rights of NSW’s 3.5 million workers and their families.”
One year after the introduction of Brodie’s Law, the Victorian government has launched a campaign targeting schools and workplaces with information about the seriousness and new criminal consequences of bullying behaviour.Workplace bullying is set to gain much more media attention as the Victorian Attorney-General, Robert Clark, launches the new anti-bullying campaign.
Victoria launched much needed anti bullying campaign
The campaign has been pushed for by the parents of Brodie Panlock.
Attorney-General Robert Clark said the ‘Take a stand against bullying’ campaign will see information about bullying and Brodie’s Law distributed to more than 8000 schools, workplaces and police stations across Victoria.
Victoria Police has also been very supportive of Brodie’s Law and the Panlock family and have produced a wonderful Youtube video explaining the law in a far more effective manner than conventional ways.
The Attorney-General Clark also said in a media release:
“Everyone is entitled to be safe in our community and no one should be forced to suffer from bullying… Authorities rely on information from the community to stamp out bullying, so if you or someone you know is being bullied, report it. All bullying is unacceptable, and serious bullying is a serious crime.”
“Having Brodie’s Law in place is about sending a strong message that threatening, bullying behavior – in the workplace or elsewhere – will not be tolerated…”
Brodie Panlock and her parents, as well as Attorney General Clark deserve our full support in their efforts to combat workplace bullying.
[post pre-entered by T on behalf of WCV]
First they were forced to fight for workers compensation coverage, and won concessions , not that previous entitlements were adequate anyway. Now NSW Firefighters are under seige again from the O’Farrell Government. However, not only is their own safety and welfare at risk from proposed cuts but so too is the safety and welfare of the communities in which they serve. Nobody’s safe!!
THE firefighters union is threatening to target Coalition electorates for industrial action if the state government presses ahead with budget savings that may force stations to close temporarily.
The Fire Brigade Employees’ Union has lodged a dispute in the Industrial Relations Commission, to be heard this morning, about proposals to cope with the $64 million in budget cuts needed over the next four years.
One option proposed by Fire and Rescue NSW to rein in spending is for a few stations to be ”taken offline”, or closed, for up to 14 hours when they are understaffed, with the remaining firefighters sent to other stations.
The union’s state secretary, Jim Casey, said the cuts compromised safety and the union was considering work bans on staff moving to stations in Coalition electorates if it meant other stations had to be taken offline. The bans would not apply to stations in electorates held by Labor, Greens and independent MPs.
”The FBEU is fundamentally opposed to these budget cuts. They will compromise community safety,” Mr Casey said. ”Among the options before the union is the idea of ensuring that any station taken offline be limited to stations covering electorates who voted for the O’Farrell government.”
The Emergency Services Minister, Mike Gallacher, criticised the union over the threat.
”If the FBEU intend on taking this matter to the IRC, surely the union would await the outcome before making threats,” a spokeswoman for the minister said.
Fire and Rescue NSW said up to three stations on a weekday and six at the weekend might be forced offline. Its commissioner, Greg Mullins, said he hoped savings could be achieved by other means, such as cutting overtime, which had risen by $7 million last financial year, and sick leave.
If not, he said, temporary closures would not compromise response times or public safety. On any given day, up to 15 of the state’s 94 stations were pulled offline for various reasons, he said.
”I hope that when we go to the industrial commission, the union will see what we’re trying to do is nothing different to a normal day in Sydney, where we take stations offline for training, education, hazard-reduction burn-offs,” Mr Mullins said.
The opposition’s emergency services spokesman, Nathan Rees, said the city needed more fire stations, not fewer. ”Barry O’Farrell has tried to get this out as the Olympics are starting and, of course, the workforce is going to be annoyed,” he said. ”You cannot rip $64 million out of the fire brigade budget without public safety being compromised.”
Changes to the WorkCover SA levy system will help push down the scheme’s costs sufficiently to allow it eventually to reduce the average levy rate which remains the highest in the nation, the organisation expects.
WorkCover SA levy system to push down scheme’s costs
From July 1, WorkCover introduced its new Experience Rating System which calculates employer levies, which it now will call “premiums”, based on their size, performance against their industry’s risk and individual claims experience.
The new regimen will target medium and large employers, which make up the least of businesses in the scheme yet, because of their workforce size, lodge most claims.
WorkCoverSA chief executive Rob Thomson said the change was “one piece of the puzzle” for improving the scheme’s financial performance. It also needed better outcomes from its claims agents (for which winning tenders will be announced in coming months).
“Hopefully, this change, together with other changes that have been made, will actually result in the levy rate being reduced at some point. I would hope that’s within the next couple of years,” he said.
The WorkCover board announced in March the average levy rate paid by employers would remain unchanged, at 2.75 per cent of payroll, for 2012-13. It was cut from 3 per cent in 2010-11, where it had been since 2003-04. That roughly was double the average levy rate paid interstate, with 1.66 per cent in NSW, 1.34 in Victoria, 1.30 for Queensland and 1.49 in WA.
Mr Thomson said the scheme’s anticipated long-term returns remained low. This may continue to affect the level of its liability.
“The scheme is still getting appropriate and good (immediate) investment returns; the impact that we’re suffering is the (bottomed out) yield curve,” Mr Thomson said. “The areas that we have under our own control, we are seeing an improvement but the things that are outside our control that are affecting everybody . . . there is likely to be some deterioration. It’s very hard to judge at this point.”
He said only 9 per cent, about 5000, employers would be affected by the move to an experience rating system.
Small employers, which historically have a low record of claims, will continue to pay a base rate calculated on their payroll and industry risk.
The new scheme, which also operates in NSW, has been met with some resistance from small employer groups, such as the Motor Trade Association, because it does not provide incentives for improvement, as it does for medium and large employers.
WorkCover deficits ‘unmitigated disaster’
We recall that in March this year it was reported that state WorkCover schemes are suffering worsening deficits, with the losses in South Australia now more than $1 billion.
A $222 million blowout in the unfunded liability of the South Australian scheme has created more headaches for the government and businesses struggling to pay growing premiums.
The latest actuarial figures to December 31 show the unfunded liability has grown from $952m to $1.174bn in just six months. The unfunded liability was $55m in June 2001.
The state-based WorkCover schemes oversee the compensation of employees injured in workplace accidents.
An audit by the NSW Auditor-General in November found the NSW WorkCover scheme had a deficit of $2.4bn.
The report said the deficit grew by $900m in the year to June 30 as workers found new ways to exploit the scheme, which struggled under the weight of losses already sustained during the global financial crisis. The South Australian opposition finance spokesman, Rob Lucas, said that Labor’s management of WorkCover had been an “unmitigated disaster”.
“Employers are still paying the highest levies in the nation and the scheme is suffering from the worst return-to-work figures in the nation,” Mr Lucas said.
“When the Labor government introduced their controversial amendments to the legislation in 2008 they claimed their actuarial advice was the scheme would be fully funded within five to six years. It is clear this will be yet another Labor broken promise. Labor can’t lay all the blame on global economic conditions, because for most of the past 10 years there was strong national economic growth, yet the unfunded liability rose year after year.”
The NSW opposition has launched a petition against the O’Farrell government’s changes to the state’s workers compensation scheme.
The WorkCover overhaul – which includes capping benefits and medical expenses and axing claims over journeys to and from work – was passed into law last week despite vehement opposition from the opposition and trade unions.
Opposition Leader John Robertson has vowed to fight the government on the matter all the way to the 2015 election.
“Last week Barry O’Farrell passed draconian laws in the dead of night that broke the safety net for virtually every injured worker in NSW,” Mr Robertson said on Wednesday.
The state government says the WorkCover overhaul is necessary to rein in a $4 billion deficit in the scheme.