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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Public servants get compo for stress

Government insurer Comcare had to pay a dozen bureaucrats an average of $251,000 for mental stress this year.  They were initially denied compensation but took their case to the ATT (Administrative Appeals Tribunal) and it paid off for them big time.

The Department of Human Services - which includes Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support Agency - will pay the highest premium to Comcare this year - $61 m - but the Tax Office, Police and the Defence premiums are also up to alarming levels.

It's no wonder workers in the private sector resent public servants, they always seem to come out on top, and details of these actual case studies are a joke.


A Tax Office data analyst was punched on the arm when he flicked coffee over a workmate's face and shirt in a cafe.  Months later, he claimed the punch had caused a whiplash neck injury.  The ATT ruled that the coffee-shop punch was not work related but still awarded him compensation for "psychological injury" due to his perception that colleagues were "ganging up on him" at work.

An Austrade grants auditor was paid compensation for an "adjustment disorder" and "depressed mood".  She complained when her manager told her that claims applicants couldn't understand her because English "was not her first, nor second language."

A frontline Centrelink worker was compensated for an "adjustment disorder" after management told her she must work more than one day a week. She claimed she was unable to deal with 70 per cent of enquiries, that customers often became agitated or abusive while waiting to be served, and that her team leaders often gave her "dirty looks." Comcare blamed her stress on her personal life but the ATT ruled that the job had contributed to the "adjustment disorder."

So we have the government insurance company Comcare trying to save us money on the one hand, and the ATT doling it out on the other. And if the above examples are typical of what the ATT consider justifiable compensation claims, we're in big trouble.