Ombudsman report shines light on WorkSafe failures

04/12/2019

MEDIA RELEASE

At Gordon Legal we meet with injured workers every day.

They are injured while on the job and look to the Victorian WorkCover system to support them with weekly payments and medical expenses while they recover or adjust to a life forever changed by injury.

The role of the WorkCover insurer is to provide compensation in accordance with the legislation. But without vigilance and accountability, this isn’t always the case.

The Ombudsman report issued this week confirms our clients’ experience of the system and that it “is failing to deliver just outcomes for long term injured workers, inflicting a huge emotional toll on them, their families and wider society,” as stated by Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass.

Ms Glass’ investigation has found that WorkCover agents have failed to act in the interest of workers in a number of ways, including:

  • Selective use of evidence to terminate worker entitlements
  • Conducting unjustified surveillance of workers
  • Requiring workers participate in occupational rehabilitation at inappropriate stages of recovery and issuing non-compliance notices if requirements were not met
  • Agents negotiating unreasonably during conciliation
  • Maintaining decisions that they were aware would be overturned by a court
  • Termination of a worker’s entitlements considered as ‘wins’ internally by agents

Every WorkCover case involves the lives and livelihoods of everyday people and the pressure and harm placed upon them by negligent practices within a system designed to protect them cannot be understated.

These findings conclusively demonstrate that attitudes have to change in order to meet the needs of hard-working people whose lives are altered, sometimes irreversibly, after suffering injury at work, says Gordon Legal Principal Lawyer Jenny Forti.

“As if the human cost of these apparently entrenched wrongful practices are not enough, even worse is that it is fair to estimate that the economic cost to the individual workers concerned and the broader community is dramatically higher than the cost of simple treating them with the dignity they deserve.”

As a consequence of this investigation, Ms Glass has made 15 recommendations to the Victorian Government and WorkSafe, all of which have been accepted.

Gordon Legal commends the vigilant work of the Ombudsman and hopes that this week’s announcement signifies progress towards eliminating unfair practices under the current Victorian WorkCover system.

– ENDS –

For further information, media interviews or images, please contact:

Finn Houlihan

[email protected]

0410 730 019