Kate commenced voluntarily supporting psychologically injured Queensland Police Officers and their families, after identifying deficiencies within the current system through personal experience.
It has become clear that organisational issues and the various legislative and procedural obstacles within the workers’ compensation system are widespread and impacting upon workers all over Queensland. Kate is passionate and determined to achieve better support for psychologically injured workers at both an organisational and state level, and believes that nobody deserves to be left to fight alone. Everybody deserves fairness and justice, and Kate has helped a number of officers achieve this by submitting reviews and appeals to the Workers’ Compensation Regulator and Queensland Industrial Relations Commission on their behalf. This has resulted in successful outcomes in cases where law firms turned their backs.
Kate has personally met with politicians, initiated contact with journalists and lawyers, and written to various members of parliament to seek changes to matters that adversely impact upon psychologically injured police. Additionally, Kate has initiated surveys, conducted research, and compiled reports to validate that there is a need for legislative, organisational and systemic reform.
Throughout these processes, Kate identified a practice whereby workers were being subjected to drug and alcohol testing at psychiatric independent medical examinations. This was being conducted in circumstances that were seen to be taking advantage of the vulnerability of the worker. In the cases identified, none of the officers were informed by the doctors of the reasons for the tests, or that they would be supervised during the tests, or that they had a right to refuse the test. This left the workers feeling humiliated, belittled and distressed, particularly in cases where officers were told that they must comply with such tests. This is not the case, as it is outside the ‘targeted drug testing’ provisions of the Police Service Administration Act 1990 (Qld). In consultation with the Queensland Police Union and the Queensland Police Safety and Wellbeing section, it was determined that workers do in fact have the right to refuse these tests and that more should be done to protect the rights of vulnerable, psychologically injured workers. Justice 4 Workers has since been informed that officers rights will now be better explained and that the Queensland Police Service’s policy on this process is being amended to reflect this. Justice 4 Workers further intends to ensure that the examining practitioners are also implementing practices that protect the rights of the injured worker.
Justice 4 Workers is currently advocating for reform in the following areas that are significantly impacting upon Queensland Police;
- Legislative changes to the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld), in particular the exclusion clause set out in s.32 (5) of the Act, as well as making decision makers legislatively accountable for maladministration
- A Royal Commission, into the deficiencies of the Queensland workers’ compensation system with a view to bringing about improved processes
- A Royal Commission into reports of organisational issues within the Queensland Police Service, including the treatment of injured workers, bullying and allegations of corruption
- Improved injury management processes within the Queensland Police Service
- Proactive and prevention-based organisational wellbeing initiatives within the Queensland Police Service
- Career transition support and post-retirement support for officers medically retiring from the Queensland Police Service
- Suicide prevention and awareness
- Removal of the Queensland Police Commissioner’s power to suspend officers without pay. Furthermore, in cases when suspension is later lifted and officers are cleared of wrongdoing, Justice 4 Workers seeks to remove the Commissioner’s current power to withhold from back-pay, an amount equal to any salary that is earned through secondary employment whilst suspended.
If you have been adversely affected by any of these matters and wish to provide information, please contact Justice 4 Workers via email with your story.