In June 2012, the New South Wales government brought in changes to the Workers’ Compensation Scheme. These reforms were intended to improve financial support for seriously injured workers and provide assistance for workers returning to employment with a particular focus on:

*Bettering financial support for injured workers.

*Encouraging financial sustainability.

*Assisting injured workers in their return to work.

workers compensation

Fair or faulty?

Image via Shutterstock.

Questions have since been raised about the fairness of the scheme, especially when a bureaucrat had her compensation denied.

So is the workers compensation scheme fair or faulty? Let’s take a look.


When Canberra bureaucrat Martina Martinez was bullied through compulsory private counselling sessions, she lost her fight for workers compensation. After working with a national indigenous cadet program, Martina quit her job after the job significantly contributed to her mental illness.

Martinez was shocked to find her compensation claim was denied because a manager took “reasonable administrative actions”. This was further supported by the commonwealth public service workplace insurer Comcare who rejected Martinez’s claim because there had been reasonable attempts to improve her work.

A positive outcome for Martinez seemed hopeless until the Administrative Appeals Tribunal found Ms Martinez had been humiliated and unfairly treated. The tribunal went against the official workers compensation guide to bullying that says ”management action is reasonable if conducted fairly, transparently and in line with approved processes”.

Justice Alan Robert commented on the case, saying an employee’s reaction could not be relied upon when determining if the manager’s action was reasonable or not and ”some degree of humiliation may often be a consequence of a manager exercising his or her legitimate authority at work”.

In a decision published last week, it was ruled that Ms Martinez suffered from a mental illness of which her employer, and supervisor’s actions, contributed to a significant degree.

From this case alone, it’s clear that the workers’ compensation scheme isn’t blemish-free and more work needs to be done to ensure fairness for all workers.


WorkCover provides simple steps to apply for compensation.

Step 1: Contact the insurer first

Your case manager at an insurer is the first point of contact for all complaints and disputes. These managers are familiar with your circumstances and are better trained to handle the dispute.

Step 2: Contact WorkCover

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome or decision an insurer makes, we recommend you contact WorkCover on 13 10 50.

WorkCover reviews your dispute and ensures management of the claim is in accordance with workers compensation legislation and policy.

Step 3: Further assistance.

If further action is required and WorkCover can’t help you with a dispute, these are additional and more specific areas you can seek assistance from:

• NSW Ombudsman – ombo.nsw.gov.au

• Workers Compensation Commission – wcc.nsw.gov.au

• Administrative Decisions Tribunal – adt.lawlink.nsw.gov.au


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