|At the injured workers forum in Kempsey August 7.|
“In an instant anyone can go from being a productive employee to an injured worker and that’s why everyone should be taking a close look at this government’s savaging of workers' compensation benefits,” said David Shoebridge.
“An injury as serious as the loss of a foot is not considered a serious injury after so-called ‘reforms’ to NSW compensation law,” said David Shoebridge.
“Workplace injury can be life changing for workers and their families. Workers compensation is a matter of basic decency for all workers and employers,” said Carol Vernon.
David Shoebridge Greens MP in NSW Upper House addressed an injured workers’ forum at the Oddfellows Hall in Kempsey on August 7.
A group comprised of unionists, injured workers and those concerned with the current unfair NSW WorkCover scheme shared their experiences within the State’s dysfunctional WorkCover system.
The forum also heard that the savage 2012 cuts to benefits by the Coalition government were never financially required and that the system can well afford to return all lost benefits to injured workers.
David Shoebridge said:
“No one wants to get injured at work and, if you are, you deserve to be fully protected for all medical expenses and loss of income.
“As a result of benefits cuts rushed through parliament in 2012 most injured workers have lost the right to the payment of ongoing medical expenses and income protection.
“Only a tiny minority of catastrophically injured workers will receive medical benefits for life.
“There are no longer any benefits payable for pain and suffering and most workers will see their weekly benefits stop after 2.5 years with medical benefits stopping a year after that.
“To make matters worse, when it comes to challenging a decision by an insurer to cut your benefits because they say you can return to work, it is now illegal to pay a lawyer to help you.
“Increased returns on investments, combined with the ruthless benefit cuts, are driving the WorkCover scheme towards an embarrassingly large $6 billion surplus.
“This surplus is more than enough to fully restore all lost benefits, and that’s the demand that everyone must be making to restore some decency in the scheme,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Carol Vernon, Greens’ spokesperson said:
“Losing your job through injury can be particularly tough in regional New South Wales, including the Mid North Coast, where work can be so hard to find in the first place.
“The cuts from 2012 have seen an increase in injured workers made homeless. Some are living in cars and some placed on suicide watch. These are people who need help and should not be subject to further trauma.
“While many injured workers are losing benefits there are ongoing accounts of the waste and mismanagement in the WorkCover scheme.
“Poor management and waste in the WorkCover scheme is seeing insurers paying discredited doctors to write reports designed to cut benefits and bizarre rules that see money wasted on legal squabbling.
“It is well and truly time that working people, unions and business came together to demand a far better outcome from the WorkCover scheme,” Ms Vernon said.
Background: Link to David Shoebridge posts on this topic
See also: Kempsey Workers Compensation Forum
Picture: David Shoebridge with L-R Carol Vernon (MNC Greens) Patricia Theoret (Injury Support Network, Martina Rosas (NMU) and Jennifer Clarke (injured nurse) seated.