Richard Dababneh discussing Commonwealth Compensation on 2GB – 6 August 2019
Richard Dababneh providing Q & A on the 2GB Steve Price Afternoon Show discussing Commonwealth Compensation– 6 August 2019
Tuesday, 6 August 2019
SP – Steve Price/RD – Richard Dababneh /C1,2,3, etc – Callers
Listen to the Podcast
Read the transcript below:
SP Tuesday afternoon, very happy to have Turner Freeman back with us, now what happens if you are in need of compensation but your employer turns you away and that employer happens to be the commonwealth government, that could be awkward, workers compo as we know is a very complex topic but thankfully we are joined by one of the partners from Turner Freeman, Richard Dababneh is with us this afternoon, good to talk to you Richard.
RD Nice to speak to you Steve.
SP And as always we have a $100 Westfield voucher to give away to the best caller who asks the best question on our legal matters segment this afternoon and of course Turner Freeman Lawyers provide a range of specialised legal services, Richard what we are going to talk about today is complex, compensation, but it gets more complex I guess if you’re employed by the federal government.
RD Absolutely, it’s interestingly, it’s one of the most complex jurisdictions, one of the most complex areas of law in the country, so every State has its own state based worker’s compensation scheme and then there’s a federal scheme which covers employees of the commonwealth government and also there’s some self-insurance that’s available to some licence holders, you know national companies such as Telstra, Australia Post, some of the big four banks, the logistics providers, the big TNTs and the Linfoxes and things like that, and they’re covered by a scheme called Comcare, which is a very complex and very unusual scheme, it has a very different way that it’s managed and a very different way where disputes are dealt with.
SP It would be very daunting for an individual to go up against someone like the Commonwealth government if they thought they were due compensation, you just couldn’t do it on your own.
RD Absolutely, whereas in other jurisdictions where you have state based insurers who are privately funded, the commonwealth government is a very big entity, if I can put it that way, it has a lot of resources and often you find Comcare, the agent that manages this for the government spends a lot of money fighting these cases.
SP Who are we looking to hear from this afternoon? What sort of questions could we expect to be answered for our $100 Westfield voucher?
RD There’s, you’ve got people who are employed by companies or covered by the Comcare scheme, so I mentioned a few of those, some of the big banks, the CBA workers and
SP Armed forces, the navy.
RD Armed forces, navy, defence personnel, that’s a slightly different scheme.
SP People with PTSD.
RD There was an article I read just the other day in fact, about a firefighter from Canberra, so there’s some people in Canberra who are covered by Comcare and some that are covered by the ACT worker’s compensation scheme, but this particular person had a very serious PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder and was prescribed a, what is called a mind dog, or a psychiatric assistance animal and obviously went out on the recommendation of his doctors and purchased a dog and tried to have that, the cost of that and the cost of maintenance of that animal and the registration, food etc covered by Comcare and it was rejected and on appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal it was rejected again, because the deficiencies in the Act, you know the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, which is the Act that governs this area, it doesn’t allow for things such as that, whereas in other jurisdictions, NSW worker’s comp, other states, it’s quite common for this type of treatment to be covered, so it’s a very unfortunate situation for this man and I can, this happens with people in defence force personnel who have put in claims all the time as well.
SP It’s very common, 131 873 is our number if you’ve worked for a government agency and you have had to apply for compensation and gone through one of these battles, give us a call likewise if you are in the middle of seeking compensation and you believe that you are due that compensation, we’d love to hear from you as well, try and explain it as simply as possible if you can and you can pick up for yourself a $100 Westfield voucher today to use as you wish. What’s another example of a case that you’ve, Turner Freeman have looked after?
RD So, there’s, the cases that come to us are obviously ones that are disputed in most cases anyway, I suppose as a general rule they’re all a little bit interesting, otherwise there wouldn’t be a dispute, I suppose what I could say is there’s, under the Act there’s a whole range of different things that you can claim for including permanent impairment compensation, which is the equivalent of your pain and suffering compensation and sometimes that generates some dispute, so obviously Comcare would suggest that someone’s impairment isn’t as high as what they think it might be or the injured person might think it might be and it follows on from there that there’s a dispute about the injury and the cause of the injury, the extent of the injury and the permanent impairment that flows from it. This man’s case is interesting in that this is a treatment expenses, this is a medical expense which, if it was a straight forward…
SP Like a drug or something it wouldn’t be a problem
RD Exactly right, if it was a knee injury and that required a knee operation there wouldn’t be a problem but with psychiatric injuries, it’s always a little bit grey, you know, what is reasonable treatment for a psychiatric injury other than for example seeing a psychiatrist or a psychologist.
SP Well he fought a very serious factory fire I think, that’s what caused his injury in the first place.
RD Yeah, no doubt there would have been many episodes along the way in his career as a firefighter where he would have been exposed to traumatic events which would have led to something like this, you know if his doctors are suggesting that this is a treatment that is therapeutic, that will assist him get through his days, his life, then on all accounts I think it should be accepted, and I think if you read the article and read the decision, the Tribunal member who in fact decided this case, said well look I think there’s a problem here with the law, I can’t find in your favour because the law doesn’t allow me to but you know parliament hasn’t seen fit to make provision for this in the Act.
SP Calls for Richard on 131 873 straight after this. Join the conversation today, particularly in regards to the federal agencies, Richard Dababneh is in the studio with us and Anthony is on the line on the south coast, g’day Anthony.
Caller No: 1 Anthony
C1 Good afternoon gentlemen.
SP What’s your story?
C1 I worked for Australia Post from the late 60s to the late 80s originally PMG, I had a problem with me tail bone and my doctor took me off the bike originally, they said either I was sick for work or I wasn’t and sent me home. This went on for about 4 years then at Christmas time they created a position for me to help keep the overtime down which they said my position was reliant on that, then come June the following year, they told me that if I didn’t get a clearance, that I’d be redeployed, do I applied for the mail centre in Newcastle, then that fell through and in the end I ended up resigning, then Centrelink sent me to see a lawyer, they told me that under the federal award I wasn’t entitled to any money whatsoever, yet if I worked for the state government I would have been guaranteed $30,000 in pain and suffering but the federal government doesn’t recognise it.
SP Well that’s the difference Richard, isn’t it, in the different awards.
RD Absolutely, a huge difference between the state and the federal scheme. It’s a little bit hard I suppose in that situation and that story, that happens a lot, you know there’s people who are injured, they try to get themselves back into work, they retrain, whatever it might be and it’s still not good enough for these companies. Australia Post you know is one that we see all the time,
SP And all workers need to be mindful of the fact that you’re not all on equal awards. Martin’s in Brisbane, hello Martin
Caller No: 2 Martin
C2 Yeah, g’day, how are you Steve?
SP Well mate thank you.
C2 G’day Richard.
RD G’day Martin.
C2 Look I was in the military for about 20 years, I was discharged due to PTSD, depression all those sorts of things and I received a totally and permanently incapacitated pension from the Department of Veteran Affairs and also invalidity payments through ComSuper, recently I became aware that I was able to claim my superannuation based on or apply for early release based on invalidity.
C2 And I did that and shortly after my estranged wife moved back in for a short period of time, she’s moved out again but she sort of claiming that she’s going to try and take the money that I was paid out in superannuation. My understanding was that there was a federal court ruling that that is actually an insurance payment rather than a superannuation payment and on those grounds she wouldn’t be entitled to that, is that correct?
SP We’re straying into marriage law here I guess are we Martin.
RD We’re certainly in the family law sphere and I’m not going to say that I’m an expert in family law but my understanding Martin is that if that is something that’s been paid as a pension then it may well be, it may well form part of the assets of the relationship and it might be divvied up, but you certainly need to speak to a specialist family lawyer to ….
SP Have you spoken to a lawyer about it Martin?
C2 No, I haven’t at this stage, I’ve had lost of lawyers in the past, yeah it scares me.
SP We hear what you’re saying but Richard from a family law point of view the assets are all put in a pot divvied up equally, but Martin may have some argument there, you would advise him to talk, is Turner Freeman got anyone who could help out in the family law.
RD No, it’s not an area that we practice in, but if you do call through to me I can certainly give you a recommendation for good family lawyers that would be local to you.
SP Hang on there, Martin and we’ll get your number, no problem with that. Let’s talk to Ray in Springwood, g’day Ray.
Caller No: 3 Ray
C3 Good afternoon gentlemen. Yeah, my situation is my wife was her mother’s carer through Centrelink and she crushed her vertebrae lifting her, and ended up with cages being put in the neck and all this business which didn’t work and she’s now just been stuck off on a disability support pension, and you’ve got, apparently got no comeback even though you were paid by Centre stink as I call them, as an employee to look after the person when something goes wrong they just wipe their hands and say you can;’t sue Centrelink.
RD Yeah, that’s a tough one mate but unfortunately as much as I don’t like to say it, I think Centrelink has probably got it right, whilst that relationship is as a carer, it’s not a relationship which extends to an employment relationship with Centrelink where Centrelink would therefore have a duty of care to your mother-in-law or your wife, I think that’s a tough one for you, you going to have to find another way to get that treatment covered.
SP Alright thank you for that, Ray. Robert’s on the line, g’day Robert, how are you?
Caller No: 4 Robert
C4 G’day my wife worked for the NSW state government and actually had a mental breakdown in the workplace and she was on the worker’s compensation system from 2004, the NSW government changed the worker’s compensation legislation and actually made it retrospective.
RD They did.
C4 And is that normal, because that wiped out, because she went back to work, and was not seeking a payout, she was only being covered for her medical expenses and treatment, her employer actually declined to provide alternate duties.
C4 And basically told her to go away and find a job elsewhere. They never sacked her.
SP Are you aware of that retrospectivity Richard?
RD Absolutely, in 2012 it all came in mate and they changed the system on its head and they made it retrospective so it applied to anyone, if you were injured in 1990 or any time after 1987 in fact, when the Workers Compensation Act came in, up until that point you were transitioned onto this new system and you were told that, whilst you might have thought you had coverage for life, it’s now been chopped off and your coverage will be X, Y or Z depending on some facts.
SP Doesn’t sound very fair.
RD It was very unfair at the time and it’s still very unfair, you know the system now in NSW is in terms of entitlements to injured people, injured workers, it’s one of the worst in the country.
SP It’s a bad example, thank you Robert, Debbie is on the line, g’day, how are you Debbie?
Caller No: 5 Debbie
C5 Yeah, thanks for taking the time to listen to me, I’ve been employed in a high school since 1999, so 20 years, an incident happened on 10 March 2017, I’ve been on leave since, that incident I’m under psychologists, I’ve had lots of testing done, I do have an impairment at the moment which is a lot of anger I still have inside me, I suffer the anxiety and depression very bad, I’ve just come out of that hole I call it, I’m now, I’ve thrown myself into fundraising for the RSPCA, I love animals so I’m doing that.
SP So have you made a claim against the employer?
C5 Not as yet, my insurer has stopped paying…
SP That’s something you can help with Richard.
RD It’s certainly something we can help with and I suppose the first bit of advice you need is if this was 2017 injury, you need to do this straight away, there are time limits which apply to lodging claims. Your claim, is it a NSW high school?
C5 It is a NSW but I’m in the process, I had transfers in and they were from years ago, now the director it’s in her hands now, she’s only been a director there for the last 18 months I’m aware of, so she wouldn’t know half of the incidents but it would all on record everywhere, now she is actually trying to find me a placement, which I am so happy, because now that I’ve got my voice back and like I said I’m just going, I just want to get out there and socialise and do all that again
SP Good on you, so you feel you’re able now and willing to get back into the workforce.
C5 I’ve got capacity to work, that’s why my insurers have stopped paying me but they are still going to be paying for my psychologist appointments, so they’re going to cover that for the next 2 years I believe, they have been very supportive
RD Very good.
SP That’s a good news story Debbie, thank you I think we might give that $100 voucher to Debbie so she can go along to Westfield, what do you reckon?
SP Richard thank you very much for joining us today, I look forward to talking to someone from Turner Freeman next week.
RD My pleasure.
SP Richard Dababneh from Turner Freeman.