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Formal Complaint to WorkSafe Victoria

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21st May, WorkSafe’s Andrew calls

My long wait was over, or so I thought, when on 21st May I received a call from a Service Review Analyst working with WorkSafe’s Capability & Service Division.

Yes, it did seem that they had “escalated” my complaint, as promised, and I would at last be given some answers. But my hopes were soon dashed as the guy on the other end of the line tried to explain to me why it was taking so long to deal with my complaint. He told me that WorkSafe was having to seek further information as to whether I was making an additional complaint or was merely hoping for a response to my original one. I made it clear that I was still awaiting a definite response to my original complaint. Having then established that we were both on the same page, the caller said that he was in fact ringing to apologize to me for the delay. No reason for this was given.

When I inquired how he would feel if he was in my situation, he once again apologised to me.

As you might have gathered by now, I found this phone call to have been awkward, uncoordinated, empty and senseless.  It was patently obvious that he had not looked all that deeply (if at all) into my complaint.

Was he inexperienced and being thrown in at the deep end by his manager?  Or had he been told to play “dumb”? I wondered whether WorkSafe really does have a mechanism in place to investigate legitimate complaints! Perhaps their lack of response serves as a tactic to deter most people from pursuing answers to their complaints.

But once more I find myself waiting with “bated breath and whisp’ring humbleness” for some honest answers. Honest answers and compensation payments that I believe are fully justified.

20th May, Soula follows up:

Hi Liz,

Can you give me the ‘relevant person’s’ name and direct contact please? I’m beginning to think they don’t exist. It really shouldn’t take this long.

13th May, from WorkSafe’s, Lizabelle

Hi Soula,

Thanks for your further email.

Please be advised that I have referred your email to the relevant person looking into your complaint for his information and response.

Should you have any further queries…Blah blah

12th May, Soula follows up:

Hello Anthony,

Are you able to follow the ‘escalation’ of my enquiry. I feel it may have been lost on the way…

May I remind you the original enquiry was made on April 4th. Pretty poor on WorkSafe’s behalf I feel.

Soula Mantalvanos

24th April, Soula looks into WorkSafe’s complaint procedure

I was wondering who the Service Improvement Division were after my reply from WorkSafe. I found a WorkSafe Victoria Complaints Handling Policy pdf. I nearly threw up reading this as this is certainly NOT what I’ve experienced in my seven years as an injured worker (or self employer). In fact I can’t believe the words ‘caring’ and ’empathy’ are even used and ‘We live up to our promises’ isn’t true, WorkCover isn’t ‘Quality Income Protection’.

Grab yourselves a bucket injured workers, download the pdf or read my favorite worst bit:

Complaints handling at WorkSafe

WorkSafe Victoria (WorkSafe) is committed to actively seeking client and stakeholder feedback. Complaints about WorkSafe, our authorised Agents or service providers are an important aspect of client feedback. We value this feedback and see it as an opportunity to improve our service.

WorkSafe has developed complaints handling processes which comply with the Australian Standards and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) policy statement and encourages anyone who has contact with WorkSafe to provide feedback. There is no fee associated with providing feedback or having a complaint investigated.

WorkSafe will consider all feedback in a manner that is fair both to the complainant and to the party being complained about and which equally values all views.

WorkSafe will manage complaints consistently with its corporate values of being constructive, accountable, transparent, effective and caring.
Constructive
We are constructive in the way we provide information, advice and service.
Accountable
We are accountable for what we do and what we say. We live up to our promises.
Transparent
We work in a transparent way in an environment which is open and honest.
Effective
We are effective by working collaboratively to deliver high quality services.
Caring
We demonstrate care by showing empathy in our dealings with everyone we work with.

7th April reply from WorkSafe’s Anthony:

Good afternoon Soula

Thank you for your email enquiry

Please note that the complaint has been escalated to our service improvement division to manage this query.  They will contact you in relation to this matter

Should you have any further queries or issues, feel free to contact the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 or 03 9641 1444 or visit us on the web at http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au.

Advisory Service information and advice is prepared in the context of the information you have provided in your email.  Whilst care has been taken to provide accurate information and advice, the Advisory Service has not endeavoured to advise on all possible contingencies and therefore not intended for other situations or circumstances, as this may affect this advice.

Prior to acting upon any information or advice offered by the Advisory Service, you will need to consider your individual circumstances to determine the application of the advice to any additional statutory obligation or duty relevant to your query.

Email Address WorksafeTo WorkSafe Victoria,

I’d like to formally report the lack of support, frustration, and stress I am experiencing with my claim with (enter WorkSafe Agent name) and within the WorkCover system. I have also been publicising my frustrations as I’m sure your social media management team are aware of but thought to give WorkSafe Vic the opportunity, once again, to handle my issue if I approached via your preferred methods. Having stated this, my previous complaints seem to have been lost to this address, I hope this one doesn’t have the same fate.

Here are my issues: (more…)

Dear WorkSafe Victoria

Author:

Letter To WorkSafe VictoriaDear WorkSafe Victoria,

We have been acquainted now for over seven years, and to commemorate this occasion the least I could do was to pen you a few heart-felt words.

Today I came across WorkSafe’s Clinical Framework For the Delivery of Health Services and I would like you to know that it made so much sense to me from my perspective as an injured worker. I was very impressed reading through it. It ticked all the boxes and its approach (Purpose) was exactly what I had hoped to experience in my own chronic pain journey under your watchful eye. The guiding principles caught my attention:

  • Measurement and demonstration of the effectiveness of treatment
  • Adoption of a biopsychosocial approach
  • Empowering the injured person to manage their injury
  • Implementing goals focused on optimising function, participation and return to work
  • Base treatment on best available research evidence (more…)

Will I live to regret it?

Author:

April 2, 2014 update:

(after my WorkSafe Agent reply)

I’ll get my cheese @WorkSafe_Vic…

Idiot!

Have you had that moment? Do you remember promising yourself you’d always try your best in life and remain as honest as you can? But then down the track something happens and you find yourself asking, ‘why did I have to do rock the boat?’

Often I wonder how much easier life might be if I didn’t try so hard, if I gave in a little and didn’t aspire for the best I could possibly be. This positive attitude has occasionally got me into nothing but trouble. Sure, I have a clear conscious, but I’ve had to endure more stress, financial loss, and much more pain. No guesses, I’m talking about the Victorian WorkCover system again.

After my initial battle in 2009 with my WorkSafe Agent where I was first assessed by a Medical Panel, I was found to have no working capacity indefinitely, which meant three quarters of my pre-injury weekly wage was certified until the end, of what was projected to be, my working life. But, with diagnosis and great treatment (none of which has stemmed from the WorkCover system), I have improved. After acquiring a regular monthly design job that covers the wages of our full-time designer presented itself and being desperate to revisit our old life of working together, Theo (my husband) and I considered re-establishing our design studio, Origin of Image. We wanted to celebrate our life together, I wished for some resemblance to the ‘working human being’ I was, I craved the challenge of a client brief and most of all I desperately wanted to remove myself from being part of a poisonous system, at least when seen from the viewpoint of an injured worker.

I proceeded in a most unrealistic way to convince myself that I had a working capacity. I got excited at being able again to think for more than 10 minutes, I got excited at not having to sleep throughout every day in order to function, I got excited when finding that I could conceptualise again.

Was I daft? (more…)

The Medical Panels assessment of my work capacity 2014

Author:

Medical Panel Opinion CoverLetterI know many of you have been waiting for this post. I have been waiting to post it myself but one guess what was in my way? A response from my WorkSafe Agent… and I’m still waiting for it!

I received my Medical Panel’s opinion and they agreed with the capacity I had presented. I was honestly stunned. My opinion read:

Question 1. Whether the worker has a current work capacity and, because of the injury, is, and is likely to continue indefinitely to be incapable of undertaking –
(ii) further or additional employment or work ; or (ii) further or additional employment or work that would increase the worker’s current weekly earnings and,
Answer: (i) yes (ii) yes
Question 2. If not so incapable, what further or additional employment or work the worker capable of undertaking?
Answer: Not Applicable

Further to the report that followed bewildered me, tears streamed down my face. I actually didn’t want Theo to read it to me, I was too fearful I’d read another limiting opinion, like the previous one that has me bound to a ‘Chronic Pain Disorder’ that no one understands. Or, worse still, it was going to be like the Impairment Assessment where the Neurosurgeon on that panel wished me ‘a miracle’ on the way out whilst contributing to the decision of: ‘0% whole person impairment… The degree of impairment is permanent’.

Theo began… he read mostly accurate details that I had voiced to the Medical Panel, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. (more…)

Myself, Ms Soula and my pelvic pain story at the Alliance for Improving the Management of Pain 2014

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AIM of Pain 2014 from (OoI) on Vimeo. Or read the speech below.

I would have had to be dead not to front up to an opportunity where I could present my pain journey to 180 chronic pain interested practitioners.

Was I terrified? Absolutely! But as if chronic pain hasn’t trained me for that, pushing me past all my boundaries and limits, and facing constant fears… this was going to be a piece of cake in comparison!

The Alliance for Improving the Management of Pain 2014 (AIM Pain 2014) was held in Sydney and PainAustralia were searching for a patient to tell their story. My first thoughts were; I had to be able to tell my pelvic pain story through art. Ms Soula had to be on the stage with me, and I worried that this was impossible to physically manage without Theo’s help. As it turned out all that was ok, in fact the organisers were most enthusiastic about the creative side, and the support offered to both Theo and I was 100%.

I was asked to present my story as honestly as possible and in my own words and pictures. (more…)

Off to the Convenor of Medical Panels with my invisible pain

Author:

You know that feeling before something great is going to happen, like just arriving at the airport and knowing you’re off on a great holiday? It’s a great feeling isn’t it? Makes your insides really happy, the body and mind get a lift, and troubles seem to slide away, everything feels like it’s going to be alright. Well, I couldn’t feel more the opposite right now. I have an appointment with the Convenor of Medical Panels on Tuesday and I’m feeling more like I’m facing a funeral.

Who are the Convenor of Medical Panels for those lucky enough not to have had any experience with them? I’ll just pop in their website information as they explain it best:

Medical Panels are constituted pursuant to the Accident Compensation Act 1985 and the Wrongs Act 1958.
A Medical Panel may be asked to provide an Opinion where there is disagreement or uncertainty about aspects of a WorkCover related injury or medical condition.
A Medical Panel may be asked to provide a Determination where there is disagreement or uncertainty about the degree of impairment resulting from an alleged Wrongs Act injury.
A Medical Panel Opinion or Determination on a medical question must be accepted as final and conclusive.

If you’re an injured worker, you won’t need to read on as you’ve either experienced the Panels yourself, or after reading the above lines you’ll know exactly what I’m about to say. For those who are not injured workers and want to understand your injured worker friend, read on. And if you are a Panels assessor*, please, consider the following and what injured workers have to endure when they face you.

Following, are my thoughts and the questions that will swivel around my brain, down my spine and burn my pelvis until this appointment is over and the final decision is mailed to me. (more…)

Soula Mantavanos…Inside her home and her passion to help others!

Author:

ShowAndTellHeader
Show and Tell online interviewed me about art and my advocacy for chronic pain and injured workers… thanks guys!

Let us introduce you to Soula Mantavanos…an inspiring artist with a passion for helping others deal with chronic pain. Today we are trying to help her spread the word as far as we can reach to help all those in need…but also, she is an incredible artist with an incredible home…so we thought you might not only like to hear from her but see where she spends most of her time. These pics were photographed by the wonderful Sean Fennessy and produced by Lucy Feagins of The Design Files.

Soula has been forced do deal with crippling pain since her fitball burst and caused her to fall on a concrete floor. She is now dealing with chronic pelvic pain which is more specifically known as Pudendal Neuralgia (PN).  Soula is now advocating and working tirelessly to help others through her website.

We sat down with Soula to hear all about it, check out the links she has provided and share where you can! Ohhhh and enjoy her gorgeous home!!

Tell us about your history and how you ended up in the position of being an amazing woman advocating for chronic pain?

 

“I was working in our graphic design studio, Origin of Image (ooi.com.au) in March 2007. I was always health conscious so aside from my yoga ritual 4 mornings a week and walking everywhere, I would often sit on a fitball. It was great until the antiburst fitball burst and I fell to the concrete floor. It really was the split second that changed my life. I was 37.
(more…)

Theo and I, live on The Scheme Project’s broadcast

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Theo Soula Live In The Studio

Live In The Studio Scheme ProjectDoing my bit again for injured workers and hoping that sharing my story will bring positive change to the primitive Workers Compensation system in Australia.

Both Theo and I attended today’s live broadcast with Kris Vanston, Simon Toppin and their team to discuss the aims of The Scheme Project.

My specific rants are;

  • the inadequate methods of assessment for pain impairment within the system,
  • the out of date Accident Compensation Act 1985 and limiting AMA Guidelines also used for assessment,
  • the ‘Independent’ Medical Examinations (which are certainly not independent), and
  • the putrid investigation methods, (actually I could go on)…

Basically the whole system needs an update, this is not quality insurance or appropriate and respectful treatment for any person living in Australia, or anywhere else for that matter.

It’s time to speak up wherever and however you are involved with this system and contact The Scheme Project to contribute your experience.

Listen to the live broadcast here. Sign the petition or pledge funds so The Scheme Project can produce their documentary.

Happy to be stars of The Scheme Project

Author:
Soula Theo On Scheme Project

Soula Theo On Scheme ProjectMy rants are plenty in regard to the WorkCover system and my efforts to express the limitations and lack of support I’ve experienced as an injured worker for almost 7 years have been endless. All efforts have led to the usual dead-end letter from a WorkSafe Agent, Government body, WorkSafe themselves, if not the dead silence and ignorance that’s on offer for most workers’ concerns.

I was ecstatic when I heard about Kris Vanston and The Scheme Project. and I offered to jump on board and help in any way I could. Theo and I have signed the petition and have both made our pledges. Recently we took our support one step further and spoke up in front of the cameras for The Scheme Project’s Pozible campaign promo. (more…)

$6 Billion woman and the $600 Million Girl

Author:
$6Billion woman and the $600Million Girl)

the PELVIC PAIN report

“Pelvic pain, while common, is often a hidden burden to the lives of many women. With emerging national and international knowledge about pain and the heavy toll it poses on individuals and society, it is timely that this report ‘The $6 Billion Woman and the $600 Million Girl’ raises pelvic pain to public attention as an important health issue. This call for action is overdue in a much neglected area of health and healthcare impacting the lives of so many women and girls in our community.” Dr Christine Bennett, MBBS FRACP Master Paed. Professor and Dean, School of Medicine, Sydney. The University of Notre D

This report is an Australian initiative to address human and fiscal burdens associated with conditions causing pelvic pain. It provides solutions to improve women’s health services and outcomes. The intended audiences for the Pelvic Pain Report are state and federal governments, funders, clinicians, consumers, allied health care professionals, researchers and research funders.

(Excerpt from $6 Billion woman and the $600 Million Girl)

Addressing pelvic pain must be a cornerstone of that commitment.

The purpose of this report is to identify the issues in diagnosis and management of pelvic pain, and to provide some solutions to in3luence the future health outcomes for Australian women and girls. Working with Government, Medical Colleges, af3iliated organisations, societies, faculties and those affected by pelvic pain conditions can assist in the implementation of the recommendations that will guarantee bene3its to individuals, the business sector, and society at large. The recommendations have been proposed after strong input from women and girls with these conditions. This has been obtained through the 25 years experience of patient advocacy organisation Endometriosis New Zealand, Australian womens’ case histories, and current Australian and New Zealand social networking comments.

Read more…$6 Billion woman and the $600 Million Girl

Pelvic Pain Steering Committee:

Deborah Bush QSM
CEO and Founder Endometriosis New Zealand,
Advocate for women’s health, and development of innovative health service provision.

Dr Susan Evans
Gynaecologist, Pain Medicine Physician,
Specialist in pelvic pain.
www.pelvicpainsa.com.au
Pelvic Pain SA on Facebook

Professor Thierry Vancaillie
Gynaecologist, Pain Medicine Physician,
Specialist in pelvic pain.
www.whria.com.au

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What is Pudendal Neuralgia (PN)?

Most simply put PN is Carpal Tunnel in the pelvis/buttocks. Compression of the Pudendal Nerve occurs after trauma to the pelvis and is aggrevated with pressure. The pain is often described as a toothache like pain, with spasms, sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning. It can be very debilitating.

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