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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…

Doctors refuse to treat WorkCover patients

More and more GPs and many specialist doctors refuse to treat workcover patients. Many doctors (including my own) state that they are just fed up with the extremely time consuming and “overwhelming”, “ridiculous” amount of paperwork required by WorkCover, for which they are most often not paid.
GPs and specialists are frustrated with the bureaucracy, red-tape and drawn-out processes they encounter when dealing with WorkCover. GPs are not remunerated (read: Paid) for phone calls or for filling out lengthy forms and find the processes extremely convoluted.

Some GPs and specialists have refused to deal with  WorkCover because they are fed-up with endless red tape and poor processes associated with treating victims of road accidents and workplace injury.

Also,  more and more Victorian surgeons are reportedly refusing to care for patients after initial injuries are treated at hospital emergency departments, leaving some patients unable to receive treatment for long-term complications.

It’s a common occurrence for  many workcover victims to be turned away for treatment or a medical assessment purely because they are  WorkCover claimants.


Real example:

My own specialist surgeon now also refuses to see/treat workcover patients. I am the only one left! He has made numerous comments about the ridiculous, unpaid amount of paperwork he has to deal with (in between his extremely busy theatre schedule – hey he is a trauma surgeon); he also states that very often he will encounter some really bizzare challenges, such as hearing is own expert opinion being challenged by some uneducated, non-medically trained case manager! In addition, he can easily see and treat 3 to 4 normal (private) patients in the same time as it takes to see/treat just one workcover patient, again because of the necessary paperwork, unpaid phone calls, repetitive reports etc.  He also finds it extremely frustrating that he has to wait for months before he can obtain approval for surgery for his patients, and that he has “to see them (their injury) deteriorate before his eyes and yet nothing can be done”.

He has – sadly- now also put a notice on his website that he does not see/treat workcover (and TAC) patients.

I have also tried desperately (upon medical advice) to seek a second opinion re the type of surgery proposed for my injury (after 9 failed operations) and was horrified to hear all of them (top specialists in the field) turn me away before I could even utter a word – because I am on workcover and doctor so and so’s policy is that he/she does not take on workcover cases.

This leaves us – workcover victims- most often with really bad (not reputable) specialists and it is no wonder that we suffer many complications and unsuccessful surgeries. This, of course, at Workcover’s ongoing cost…. who are too stupid to make a fundamental change to their policies to make life easier for those medical practitioners that still have a heart.

In a way I don’t blame those doctors for refusing to take us on (although it begs the question of how on earth they swore that they would heal the sick and injured, regardless of their race, religion, money etc). If you think of how much shit you (the victim) have to deal with on a daily basis, just multiply this by 30,40, 50 and that’s what the doctor needs to deal with, without receiving any compensation for it.

As an afterthought I think all people working for workcover should also be denied any (decent) medical treatment 😉

Doctors demand WorkCover review

Media Articles -Ann Bressington MLC

To my surgeon: thank you for putting up with WorkCover’s sh*t for so long, thank you for (still) treating me and for treating me like a human being. If it wasn’t for you, God knows where I’d stand by now…

To my case manager from hell: How dare you, pathetic, uneducated, bureaucratic, sad f***k , challenge the opinion of one of the best and most experienced surgeons in the state – on the phone! Get a life!