Where to now

I am tired, it is not physical tiredness it is emotional tiredness.
A call came through late last evening – I had just slipped into sleep- the caller had found my phone number and was desperate for someone to talk with who understood what life as an injured worker is like.
I sat and talked with her for over an hour I answered her questions, I held her hand (metaphorically speaking) I gave her hope that at least someone in the cold dark night actually cared and understood.

Today even more calls and more e-mails from injured workers all needing guidance through the minefield of the workers compensation system.
A redemption has been offered that is pitifully low.
A claim has been rejected.
An operation has been cancelled.
An employer just wants the best for his injured workers.
A parent needs to pay for an excursion but the funds just aren’t in place due to the reduction in the pre-injury wage.

What answers do I have for any of them.
How do I tell these people that I have no resources to help them, that the Centre doors are open only because I work a small part time job to make sure that the Centre is in place.
What use would that knowledge be to a woman who urgently needs sanitary napkins or the employer who has taken on injured workers to help them but is now finding the workers compensation system just wants these workers to work longer and harder because a non-treating doctor has decided that that is possible.

I stand because I refuse to fall and I refuse to fail because to fail would mean that other families will also fall.
My weekends are not really mine, I have long since given up the thought of a Sunday afternoon drive because there is always someone who needs the support that the workers compensation system pretends to give.

To keep the Centre open, to keep the bills covered I go to work in a small job that holds no joy for me.

If there is an answer to all this, I hope that someone shares it soon.

I have arranged to meet the late night caller, I have spoken with the person offered the sham of a redemption and note that the fear of the future is cold and it is real.
The rest is added onto an already cluttered and overcrowded Monday.

Yours in service
Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson

A question that I hope some one can answer

If I speed down the road at 10kms over the speed limit, I will be fined under the legislation that underpins the road rules.
If I speed down the road at 10kms over the speed limit and I injure someone, I will be fined under the legislation and I may even be required to serve time in jail for the crime- again all of this is underpinned by the legislation that is the road rules.

However if a case manager decides to totally ignore or reject the ruling of a tribunal that has been set in place within the legislation for the workers compensation system, there is no fine, there is nothing to protect the injured worker from the belligerence of the case manager.
The injured worker has no where to go but back to the tribunal that set the ruling in place that the case manager didn’t want or didn’t like.

How is it that if I break the road rules I am held personal responsible, yet a case manager who holds the very life of an injured worker in their hands gets away with not just breaching the legislation but breaking the legislation?!!!!

Craig’s Table

This seems like an odd name for a programme within the workers compensation system, however Craig’s Table is (in my humble opinion) long overdue and very urgently needed.

Craig’s Table is a worlds first community based training and engagement programme for injured workers.
It is set at 40 weeks in length though there will be injured workers who will not require the entire time frame and there will be injured workers who will require a longer time period and sadly there will be some for who Craig’s Table will be all there is.

Craig’s Table aims are high, there is no point in setting a standard at the current level of what is offered to injured workers because that would mean that injured workers would still be disadvantaged and that is no longer tenable for any of us.

What Craig’s Table offers is a solid way out of the endless maze of pitfalls and false exits and the endless churning of injured workers at the expense of the injured worker and the employer and the wider community.

Instead of an injured worker being left at home to fester and fall into the abyss of isolation and depression, Craig’s Table will require the injured worker to be engaged in training and doing things always within the injured workers medical capacity.

The employers will also benefit from Craig’s Table. When their injured worker returns to the workplace the injured worker will have gained quality training and transferrable skills as well they will have served the wider community in ways that are currently required but not in place. The other thing the employers will benefit from is the cost of Craig’s Table is estimated at $15,000 per injured worker for the full 40 week programme. When compared to the current cost of allowing the workers compensation system to churn injured workers $15,000 is crushed peanuts.

What is also expected is a massive reduction in secondary workers compensation claims due to depression and stress caused by the workers compensation process this will be coupled with a reduction in legal disputes and the third cost reduction is time. We all know that the longer an injured worker is away from the work place the harder it is to return the injured worker to the workplace be it pre-injury or in a host employment situation.

As the advert always says “but wait there is more….” Craig’s Table will be the first training and engagement programme that will give an injured worker a certificate. Thus the employers will be able to see for themselves that the injured worker really has maintained their work ethic. Or when an injured worker applies for another job and the question is asked “have you ever had a workers compensation claim?” the injured worker will be able to say yes and then produce their Craig’s Table training certificate.

There is a lot to put in place to get Craig’s Table in place for the benefit of the injured workers and the wider workers compensation industry. The framework is built, the workers compensation industry people who have seen the entire concept are all of the same opinion that the programme is important. I am having talks with the network of people who will be important in gaining access to options that form a very important part of Craig’s Table, I have identified the injured workers who will form the base of each part of Craig’s Table.

But until there is the required funding to actually build Craig’s Table the programme gathers dust on my desk. So for now we all wait….








ImageI sat with a man in my office yesterday, had this man been able to find the courage to stand tall he would have been close to 6’6″ in height. Instead this man was hunched over and filled with apologies for “wasting your valuable time”. 

This man according to the paperwork he had with him has 80% whole of body impairment due to a series of workplace injuries, but the biggest challenge in this man’s life is not the injuries, he has learnt how to live within the restrictions of a badly broken body. The biggest challenge is coping with the workers compensation system that does not have a heart or the ability to assist this man. He lives alone, he is unable to clean his bathroom or kitchen and has long since stopped even attempting to do any gardening.  The claims agent has never followed through with any home help though it has been asked for many times, given the list of medications this man is taking he should not be driving anywhere let alone the 25kms one way to my office.

I have started the letter writing process for him to get some help a “Bags of Love” emergency food hamper was also sent home with him so at the very least he would not have to cook anything for his dinner last night.
That was all I could do for him yesterday.
When this gentle man left the Centre yesterday he was in tears, no one had cared about him in any length of time, and now he has found a place where he is welcomed and where he is wanted.

You may think that this one man is an isolated case, but sadly he is far from isolated.
Injured workers are everywhere, they are in every street and in every town, they are the unseen who attempt to live the best life possible for themselves and for their families in a system that opens at 9am and closes at 5pm Monday to Friday.
A workplace injury lives within an injured workers body midnight to midnight Sunday to Sunday 365 days a year, year after endless pain filled grief filled year.

It is not possible to sit with an injured worker as I did yesterday and not be broken of heart or moved by the tears that fell.
All this man and every other injured worker wants is to be treated with respect.
Surely that is not asking too much?