The Injured Workers Support Network released the statement below on April 22.
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The Injured Workers Support Group met in Bathurst with a key agenda item being the announcement of an inquiry into the NSW workers compensation scheme by the Barry O’Farrell NSW government.
Injured and ill workers voiced their concerns about Premier O’Farrell’s recent announcement to “reform” the workers compensation system in NSW.
The meeting was outraged by MP Greg Pearce’s recent comments in the parliament that, “everyone in the system gets a prize except the [WorkCover] scheme”.
A local injured worker at the Bathurst meeting said: “While the media would have us think otherwise, workers in the current system are suffering. [They are] not receiving timely treatment, are sacked from their jobs, have low or no weekly payments and are unable to meet basic cost of living expenses.”
The meeting unanimously passed a resolution that condemned any changes to the system that would see injured and ill workers and their families worse off.
As O’Farrell prepares to slash workers' compensation entitlements, a new survey by the Injured Workers Support Network has revealed the deep stress and anxiety faced by people on the current scheme.
Of the sick and injured workers surveyed, an alarming 52% revealed that they have contemplated suicide in the past six months.
One in four sick and injured workers surveyed said a workplace based injury had resulted in a separation or divorce, while 60% said their relationship had suffered significantly as a result of workplace illness or injury.
Twenty-five percent of sick and injured workers also reported being forced to move house — either through having to sell their home, move to cheaper rented accommodation or move in with family and friends.
Michelle Burgess, director of the Workers Health Centre, said the alarming statistics would get worse if the NSW government pushed ahead with mooted changes to workers' compensation.
Burgess said: “These statistics are deeply concerning, but what’s even more worrying is how much worse this will get if the government slashes workers' compensation entitlements.
“We see first hand workers facing impossible odds. Either they have to be forced to return to work and soldier on with illness and injury — seriously jeopardising their health — or having to face selling the family home.”
“Life is hard enough for sick and injured workers. The government ought to abandon these savage cuts and treat sick and injured workers with respect and dignity.”
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