Community understanding of mental health is improving, but our front-line emergency services workers still have to battle for compensation when it comes to making a claim for PTSD.
A submission to the Tasmanian Government released today by HACSU makes the case for changes to Workers Compensation legislation to address PTSD. The submission includes real life stories of Tasmanian paramedics who have been affected.
We know that emergency services work is an essential part of a modern society. We also recognise that these workers face more trauma in a single shift than most Tasmanians will face in a lifetime. This trauma can build up in employees through continued and multiple exposures to levels where relief is required.
PTSD can be debilitating for these workers and they are currently made to feel like criminals who are ‘faking it’ or ‘trying it on’ when making a claim. They have to prove not only that they have PTSD, but they got it through their employment. Multiple medical reviews by insurance doctors often result in legal conflicts when all the employee wants is to recover and get back to work in a manageable way.
HACSU is calling for tri-partisan political support to make changes to the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act to change the nature of PTSD claims.
We call for claims for PTSD to become presumptive, shifting the burden of proof to the employer/insurer instead of the worker. HACSU believes this will result in less conflict and will enable employees to get better without the fear of becoming a victim of legal argument and medical opinion shopping.
Quotes attributable to Tim Jacobson, HACSU State Secretary
“We are working very closely with Ambulance Tasmania around minimising the effects on individuals exposed to trauma, but we can never eliminate it completely. We know there will always be another workplace accident, or vehicle crash, or paediatric death.”
“Unfortunately our members see and experience trauma every day. Presumptive legislation will be a step towards normalising discussions about mental health.”
“PTSD is an insipid disease. It not only affects the worker directly, but their colleagues, their loved ones and the community; if the focus is shifted from who is to blame to what is the best way to manage the treatment it will be beneficial to all Tasmanians.”