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My workers compensation battle is turning into a WorkSafe carnivale

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Medical questions

It’s been a huge few weeks for WorkSafe and injured workers in Victoria.

I’ve always encouraged anyone who contacted me with their frustrations and horrid experiences of being an injured worker in Victoria to call their Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman’s role, as it was explained to me, was to gather complaints and if/when the complaints amounted in one specific matter, the Ombudsman would have reason to report the complaints to our Government and possibly investigate.

Clearly there have been many complaints and the Ombudsman just recently released this report about Worksafe’s ‘oversight’.

After finally gathering myself from the last blow that left Theo and I having to sell our home and start all over again, I resubmitted a 93CD application (that’s an application for part payments). Actually Theo is managing the application as I was unable to navigate the trauma of it all again but I also couldn’t bring myself to accept the insurer and our Government had gobbled up my compensation. Both very difficult when you have a chronic health issue and when you feel you’re being responsible for it but the other parties are trying to bury you instead of help.

I’ve seen the ad, ‘getting back, we’ll get you back, it’s good to be back, get you back, nothing like getting back.’ Hogwash! No one tried to help me get back to work! Nor did they advise us as self employers either!

Worksafe promises alot when they take our insurance premiums.

So, we’ve sent, what’s called a 93CD application to the insurer accompanied with:

  • the binding opinion from the Medical Panels (with findings that the Panels agree with my declaration of being able to work part time),
  • piles of paperwork,
  • capacity reports,
  • more reports from my health practitioners,
  • my personal insides,
  • my personal outsides….

and experienced:

  • the need for a squillion follow up phone calls from Theo to the insurer,
  • the usual lost paperwork re submission routine,
  • delays – without any apology, and
  • unfathomable sarcasm from the Insurer’s ‘Technical Manager’ who actually giggled happily most of her way through all the communication with Theo and even sarcastically commented at one point with ‘it’s not quite end of day yet Theo’ knowing very well her response was still a week away.

Well, finally and about 2 weeks late, we received a response to my 93CD application and it’s another referral for the Medical Panel with the exact same questions being asked as last time.

The questions that have already been asked and answered.

1 Whether the worker has a current work capacity and, because of the injury, is and is likely to continue indefinitely, to be incapable of undertaking –

i) further or additional employment or work; or

ii) further or additional employment or work that would increase the worker’s current weekly earnings; and

2. If not so incapable, what further or additional employment or work is the worker capable of undertaking.

Sheesh, how many times does a panel have to ask an injured worker? You could almost assume the insurer might be trying to make things difficult… (Noooo!)

Last time these questions were answered (yes and yes) they were not accepted by the insurer – somehow. I still don’t understand why.

So, I filed a complaint online with the Victorian Ombudsman.

It was shortly after my complaint was lodged that we read the Ombudsman’s report. So Theo also filed a follow up complaint with WorkSafe.

Worksafe’s initial point of contact did her best to deter Theo with a venomous conversation – she went as far as saying ‘It’s not that hard to go to the Medical Panels’. She didn’t care to elaborate and share her experience with the Panels as Theo changed his tone and she immediately put him through where he was able to finally submit the complaint formerly (and avoid hearing her state that she never had to go to the Medical Panels!).

Leaves me bewildered and wondering how anyone could have a job deterring complaints. Given my experience with WorkSafe however, I shouldn’t be surprised. All previous complaints were a waste of time.

We have had communication – I will keep you all informed.

Our complaint is specifically;

‘Why is Soula going back to the Medical Panels? The questions have been answered.’

And what about our other questions? The questions we don’t get to ask, the questions no one is required to answer? The questions that keep us awake at night, such as:

  • How was the insurer able to dispute the Medical Panel Opinion?
  • How was the insurer able to call a conciliation meeting after the Medical Panels made their decision?
  • How was the insurer allowed to make a short term offer?
  • How was neither Workcover Assist or the Conciliator able to get Soula her rightful compensation with a binding report in hand?
  • Why should Soula have to be examined?
  • How would a Medical Panel be able to assess her capacity through an examination that requires her to be half naked? (I’ve taken my clothes off for 9 practitioners at the Medical Panels and not one of those practitioners acknowledges it’s not a relevant examination)

I’ve had legal advice and all the above information leaves lawyers and even a Barrister speechless. ‘Unheard of’ I hear…

And for all those involved in responding to our application and complaints it’s all just a bunch of paperwork. The Convenor’s receptionist warning me about being unable to attend without enough notice as the Insurer will have to pay for the Medical Panels practitioner’s time. No I don’t care about the Insurer’s cost but fancy assuming I’d be that rude…

My case as an injured worker has moved from several acts in a circus to a major carnivale event… and needless to say, it’s all at my expense.

Stay tuned…

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