The Workplace Tragedy group – a support group for families of people who have been killed while on the job – is holding a vigil on three days this week outside Parliament House in Sydney to protest against the changes to workers compensation which the NSW Government wants to drive into law in the near future.
As the group states: We know the impact of a work-related death – we have been through it. Most work-related deaths are sudden and violent and the family’s pain and suffering is immeasurable and long-lasting. The impacts are financial, social, physical, psychological - families can break up, many turn to alcohol or drugs.
But the O’Farrell Government does not care about us, nor do they care about the families of future NSW workers who will die in this dreadful way – and let us tell you, there will be many such deaths until governments start improving and implementing safety laws.
Attacking this most vulnerable group of people for cost-cutting purposes will not save lives and will not improve safety – these were the two main purposes of the existing legislation in the first place.
The following are the proposed changes that will directly impact on families of NSW people killed or critically injured at work:
1. Removal of the family’s right to make claims for nervous shock and for pain and suffering after someone has been killed on the job.
The O’Farrell Government does not believe families should receive compensation at all for these things, despite the fact that most families have to live with psychological damage (in our experience) – their lives are devastated forever, while these people sit comfortably in Parliament and pass such unjust laws.
2. Removal of the family’s existing right to make claims for a death benefit if your loved one was killed on the way to and from work.
This has been a right of citizens in NSW since 1926. From now on, people from every vocation [including nurses!], in every age group – no matter what your income or where you live – will be unprotected.
So many people in NSW have to drive great distances to get to and from work – many workers have to go wherever they are directed across the whole of the Sydney metropolitan area and across the state, but the O’Farrell Government says to the families of people killed while travelling to and from work, bad luck.
3. Removal of the right to claim death benefits by non-dependent family members.
In 2007 we won this right for non-dependent family members to be able to receive the death benefit, where a worker has no established direct dependent partner or child.
No-one will get the death benefit in these cases – it is as if your loved one never existed in the eyes of the law.
If you are a mother or father of a young person killed at work (and your child has no legal dependents) you will have no right to claim a death benefit for the loss of your child.
If you are a non-dependent spouse (ie. you are working, part-time or full-time and your spouse had no legal dependents) you will have no right to claim a death benefit for the loss of your spouse.
If you are a non-dependent child or (in the case of a child) could not prove your dependency on a beloved parent who is killed at work (eg. if you are student working at the time of your parent’s death), you will have no right to claim a death benefit for the loss of your parent.
Please join the Workplace Tragedy group outside the NSW Parliament (come in your lunch break if you work in the city) from 10am-3pm from Tuesday-Thursday, 19-21 June.
If you can’t make it, email your support to the group: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image credit: www.workplacetragedy.com