Dear WorkSafe Victoria, We have been acquainted now for over seven years, and to commemorate this occasion the least I could do was to pen you a few heart-felt words. Today I came across WorkSafe's Clinical Framework For the Delivery of Health Services and I would like you to know that it made so much sense to me from my perspective as an injured worker. I was very impressed reading through it. It ticked all the boxes and its approach (Purpose) was exactly what I had hoped to experience in my own chronic pain journey under your watchful eye. The guiding principles caught my attention:
I declared I had a capacity in 2013 after being indefinitely written off for life by the Medical Panels (a Federal decision) in 2009. In what should be a most positive experience I have not received one cent from my WorkSafe Agent since January 2013 when I first declared I was attempting 9 hours a week. It's so difficult for me to work, I'm completely reliant on Theo but my moral ethics will not let me rest, never-failing to notifying me daily that I am able to contribute to our business and in doing so and remaining honest, this will bring a positive outcome. I've had no one within the system guide me or offer help during this process. The system's drive seems purely for the WorkSafe Agent to make any process as difficult and stressful for the injured worker so that they give up their rightful compensation or worse still, change their ethics making them so fearful that they never attempt work again. I have never, in the whole 7 years of being exposed to this system, felt I could trust anyone, felt supported, given hope, treated with respect. I have not felt any kind of care but rather I'm left to feel and be treated guilty of my crime - a workplace accident. I won't accept this treatment, I won't accept this poor income protection WorkSafe calls 'quality income protection', and it's lucky for me I have help to battle and savings to live off (which are rapidly diminishing mind you). Not being intimidated, fearful, or swallowed up by this system and its primitive ways is the reason I found my diagnosis and got myself back to work! It's the reason why a Medical Panels, for the first time, has acknowledged someone with Pudendal Neuralgia (even though they can't verify it!!), and it's the reason why, I'll get my entitlements too!...
I know many of you have been waiting for this post. I have been waiting to post it myself but one guess what was in my way? A response from my WorkSafe Agent... and I'm still waiting for it! I received my Medical Panels opinion and they agreed with the capacity I had presented. I was honestly stunned. My opinion read: Question 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 - (ii) further or additional employment or work ; or (ii) further or additional employment or work that would increase the worker's current weekly earnings and, Answer: (i) yes (ii) yes Question 2. If not so incapable, what further or additional employment or work the worker capable of undertaking? Answer: Not Applicable Further to, the report that followed bewildered me, tears streamed down my face. I actually didn't want Theo to read it to me, I was too fearful I'd read another limiting opinion, like the previous one that has me bound to a 'Chronic Pain Disorder' that no one understands. Or, worse still, it was going to be like the Impairment Assessment where the Neurosurgeon on that panel wished me 'a miracle' on the way out whilst contributing to the decision of: '0% whole person impairment... The degree of impairment is permanent'. Theo began... he read mostly accurate details that I had voiced to the Medical Panel, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
You know that feeling before something great is going to happen, like just arriving at the airport and knowing you're off on a great holiday? It's a great feeling isn't it? Makes your insides really happy, the body and mind get a lift, and troubles seem to slide away, everything feels like it's going to be alright. Well, I couldn't feel more the opposite right now. I have an appointment with the Convenor of Medical Panels on Tuesday and I'm feeling more like I'm facing a funeral.
After speaking with Kris Vanston I now know that injured workers do have the Victorian Ombudsman to turn too for unfairness issues within the WorkCover system. I had my doubts about contesting my impairment score of 0% (that was deemed permanent I might add), as I am very well aware and have ranted aplenty about Chronic Pain NOT being acknowledged in the guidelines that are used to assess injured workers. That means there is Australian legislation (I'll rephrase; it is legal) for WorkSafe practitioners to ignore Chronic pain, thus Pudendal Neuralgia. No where within the system will any WorkCover practitioner be able to assess an injured worker's Chronic pain. I'm experiencing the result of this, I've been living this ignorance since March 2007. I wrote a letter that was ignored for a few months by our WorkCover Minister, WorkSafe and SafeWork Australia. The Victorian Ombudsman employee informed me not to use the 'info' email address but rather the 'enquiries' one when I'm writing to WorkSafe. Ridiculous but he was right and I eventually received a response. (Enter sarcasm) I now feel completely healed and completely relieved with the empty response I received. It managed to 'acknowledge', 'agree', 'assure' and confirm all the points relating to this outdated system that I initially made in my letter. I'm also more at ease knowing everyone who assessed me ignored all my symptoms and inabilities and that was legal. I'm also proud of the staff at WorkSafe who are happy to abide by ignorant and narrow-minded measures that would also apply to them in the event they injured themselves at work. Above all, I'm in awe of the WorkSafe staff and all related employees and practitioners who's reports are so loyal and discerning of these out-of-date AMA4 guidelines (with pain chapter removed), and The Accident Compensation Act 1987. This template response clearly indicated to me that anyone with chronic pain and with any of the following symptoms/limitations, as a result of a workplace accident will not get compensation: affected toilet function, spasms where you really don't want them, sensory pain (in my case throughout the pelvis), toothachey nerve pain, weakening legs, burning, zinging, if you have limited sitting ability, if you are limited in walking, standing, working, lifting, bending, exercising, if you have an implant as a result of pain (or even if you need one for that matter), if you rely on daily help, if you can't drive, shop, sit and type this damn email in one hit etc etc...! Well thank you WorkSafe for the 'quality' protection you promise. And Heidi just one question, would this letter have been acceptable for you if you were in my shoes?
For those subscribed to this Fair Assessment For Compensation post, I have had a reply and it is posted here! AN OPEN LETTER TO WORKSAFE AUSTRALIA (CC’d The Hon Gordon Rich-Philips) SUBJECT: FAIR ASSESSMENT FOR COMPENSATION? My name is Soula [...]
After a few battles regarding my massage treatments, peripheral stimulation implant and finally receiving a letter form my WorkSafe agent stating I would no longer be receiving medical reimbursements/support, I began a hunt for a deserving explanation... But back to my main point, the answer I was seeking. I called the contact the Hon Gordon Rich-Phillips advised and it led to a conversation with my WorkSafe Agent's Injury Management Advisor (IMA) and for once, I seemed to be having an open and honest conversation with a WorkSafe Agent employee. It's hard to say it was honest because this system has taught me not to trust anyone, sadly. It felt like a great relief to be speaking to an educated, intelligent, experienced and capable person... I didn't get invalid and poor excuses or worse still, lies. Every point I made was dealt with and the conversation was about me, my case and my specific issues... ...the grand finale was that the IMA was going to answer why my medical expenses support had ceased?
What does it mean? From what I've gathered it basically means big general pain bucket and, its time to update the Wrongs Act 1958. And I'm stating very obvious information here because our Government has missed a very small detail... its 2012!!! ...Hello, anyone out there? If you are, it's time to update the Wrongs Act of 1958. Injured workers have injuries that can be addressed more appropriately, giving them a greater chance of getting back to work and lessening instances of permanent damage if the practitioners in the system can identify and use current information. (Or are you waiting for the 50 year anniversary?!!!)
Quite a pile hey? I'm impressed myself, it's alot of documentation! In actual fact my husband has to pull these out when we need some 'reference' because they're so heavy. And there's so much more correspondence that I've received via email too, haven't printed that off! One day I'm going to make a great, big collage out of this pile (Eureka!). Thought about the bonfire but doesn't work in this case. It's something that needs to be seen to be believed. To be honest I look at it and admire my survival tactics.
Don't be fooled by the 'human' looking disguise, deep down the 'p.i.' male or female can usually be seen dressed well and in a car parked on your street. He/she could be eating in the car, perhaps holding a camera or look dumb founded and staring into space if you suddenly look their way.