Increasing rates of psychological injury and trauma have led to a joint submission from the Victorian Police Association and the Ambulance Employees Association to the Victorian State Government. The respective unions are asking for greater recognition of the emotional distress their members are exposed to when responding to traumatic emergencies and critical situations.
As the law currently stands, if a worker seeks compensation for psychological injury suffered at work, they must first establish that their employment was 'a significant contributing factor' to the development of the illness. Under the proposals put forward by the Police and Ambulance unions, post-traumatic stress disorder would automatically be linked to a first responder's employment, alleviating them of an otherwise substantial evidentiary burden.
Statistics released early in 2016 indicate that approximately one third of WorkCover claims lodged by Victorian police officers relate to psychiatric injury or distress. The reality is likely to be a much higher figure, with the data not accounting for officers who choose not to report their symptoms to superior officers.
Assistance available from WorkCover can include counselling, medical expenses, lost wages, and lump sum compensation if the psychiatric trauma is permanent.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a workplace illness or injury, we invite you to speak with one of our expert injury lawyers on (03) 9321 9988.