I thought it best to start another post rather than comment below my original post, Formal Complaint to WorkSafe. This really deserves some space and attention. I don’t think I need to say too much other than to explain the image is a copy of the letter I received from the Victorian Workcover Authority accompanied with my reply.

WorkSafe Reply To Soula Pg1WorkSafe Reply To Soula Pg2You can all make what you will of this exchange between me, the injured worker, and the system setup to provide ‘quality income protection’.

Dear Andrew.

Thank you for the belated response to my official complaint. I trust you will not mind if I respond and in so doing make some terse comments about the way in which your organisation has behaved towards me.

  • An injured worker should not have to be disadvantaged (such as held up payments) when a WorkSafe Agent employee is on leave. Your failure to address this complaint means that you do not see it as being an issue of importance. Am I reading you correctly?
  • I don’t appreciate having a valid point and being excluded from the Facebook page or having my posts deleted. Obviously WorkCover does not want to be seen in a bad light, giving the illusion that all injured workers are happy with the way they have been treated in your system.
  • I have asked 6 times where it is stated in the regulations that my WorkSafe Agent (enter WorkSafe Agent name) have 60 days to make a decision after a Medical Panels opinion has been delivered and have still not received an answer. In response you say: ‘These are matters that are outside of (worksafe agent’s name) control’, and ‘it has attributed to both the absence of a staff member and also the receipt of additional information about your capacity subsequent to the return of the Medical Panel opinion’ In fact the member was absent well after the 60 days following receipt of the Medical Panel’s opinion.
  • And the comment that follows constitutes a ‘catch all’ answer: ‘case officers generally have a good understanding of the Act and are able to respond to a broad range of enquiries. I am advised that the information required to respond to your enquiry was contained within the Administrative Law Act 1978.’  Can you please be more specific in order that I can understand your response?
  • I have asked about the surveillance evidence that was provided to the Medical Panel ‘for completeness’. I had previously requested all my surveillance material and was allegedly provided with ‘all of it’. I want to know where the additional information provided to the Panels came from and why it was not provided to me when I asked? The additional information was not provided to me and, as I have specified in previous emails, it relates to details of my travel to Italy posted on my Facebook art page. This information was never provided to me. Nor does it seem necessary for me to have to ask AGAIN for this information.
  • In sum, these responses make it absolutely clear to me just where Victorian Workcover Authority’s priorities lie – they are designed to avoid being seen to take any responsibility for the welfare of compensation claimants and their employers, whatever the cost may be to one or both of them.

And I want to express the following thoughts which are specific to the points I made in my original complaint:

  • From my experience, WorkSafe has no idea how to support an injured worker who is attempting to return to work. Your demonstrated inaction proves my point.
  • my efforts to return to work should not be abused but rather encouraged. You have perhaps ignored my complaint because it is demonstrably true.
  • I should not have to endure $0 weekly assistance for 13 months (and still running) when I’m returning to work, not even when my hours are at 9 hours per week (and fall under the minimum requirement). This makes it all the more difficult to attempt return to work. This is the most serious of my complaints and raises the question whether you and your Agent have been less than honest in your dealings with me and my employer.
  • I have been using social media because writing to WorkSafe directly has been a huge failure from past experience and I expect that this latest attempt will also fall upon deaf ears. You seem unconcerned that the reputation of your organisation and that of your agent have been severely tarnished in the public arena.
  • WorkSafe needs to take more responsibility for the WorkSafe Agents it employs, ostensibly to ‘help’ injured workers with their claims. The inordinate delay in responding to my complaints reflects badly upon your organisation.
  • WorkSafe is failing in its attempts to help injured workers find evidence-informed treatments, to help them recover and return to work Again this is a serious criticism that is deserving of the urgent attention of your organisation.
  • Your past responses to my letters of ‘noting my advocacy’ has made not the slightest difference to these governance issues. These issues that should have been addressed at a high level within your organisation have been studiously ignored.

To summarise:

I have received no help, understanding or acknowledgement of my frustrations as a result of being left without compensation during this unnecessarily lengthy and obstructive bureaucratic process.

You make no mention of a possible resolution to the dispute which is before Conciliation, no mention of your Agent actually assisting me in my return to work, and you have given no thought to the financial plight of this worker.

Instead you have concocted two pages of non-answers that seem to condone the total lack of support for the injured worker (me) by your Agent, and demonstrates a continued unwillingness of your organisation  to tackle the real and important issues that I have raised.

I trust that this latest post proves sufficient to publicly demonstrate the appalling level of service and lack of empathy that the Victorian WorkCover Authority provides in return for the workers’ compensation premiums we pay in Victoria.