After wading through 700 complaints in 2017/18 and another 800 complaints in 2018/19, the hand of Ombudsman Deborah Glass has been forced to re-investigate the Victorian Workers Compensation scheme, WorkCover.
This new investigation, launched in May 2018, has culminated in the release of a scathing second report into the Victorian Workers compensation scheme. The report cites that despite the acceptance and implementation of the 15 recommendations outlined in the initial report, there is a clear continuation of internal manipulation to maximise financial rewards and minimise penalties in complex cases.
Her findings are not limited to financial underhanded internal tactics, but extend to other considerable, and worrisome, practices of WorkSafe agents; showing:
- staff being incentivised to keep their foot on the accelerator when in pursuit of maximising money
- the cherry picking of evidence
- engagement in doctor shopping
- agents defending decisions which wouldn't hold up in court during conciliation, expecting injured workers to "give up"
- reliance on independent medical examiners (IMEs) opinions over treating doctors
- workers being placed under unnecessary surveillance
- agents terminating claims to maximise profits
- workers forced into return to work activities despite clear limitations to capacity
- agents being advised to be careful of what they put in writing.
The Government remains committed to ensuring fairness for injured workers and have identified a further 15 recommendations to bring an end to the schemes failure to support workers with complex claims. In addition, Attorney-General Jill Hennessy will launch an independent review of the scheme, already establishing a monitoring and oversight committee.
Redlich's Work Injury Lawyers are hopeful that this step will help address the ongoing unfairness in the current scheme and the poor behaviour of the agents who are entrusted to operate the scheme.