if you move carefully
through the forest
like the ones
in the old stories
who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,
to a place
whose only task
is to trouble you
but frightening requests
conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.
Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
to stop what you
while you do it,
that can make
that have patiently
waited for you,
that have no right
to go away.
~ David Whyte ~
By: Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson, Founder, Craig's Table
There are some questions that over the years simply get repeated over and over again by different members of the injured worker community; they are normal questions from people within the injured worker community who are just trying to navigate their way through what has become an overly complex concept. Or the most part the questions are very basic and easily answered, other questions (as is the way of questions) do take a bit of research or a referral to someone far more qualified than I am to answer the question. And then there are the questions that should not require being asked or even pondered about.
Such a question was put to me in the past few days not once but twice: the second time the question was asked was almost understandable as the person who asked the question was not from within the workers compensation process. However; the person who asked the question the first time should have not needed to ask, nor should there have been any reason to ponder.
The question was “what is it that injured workers want?”
The reason this person should not have needed to ask the question is simply because this person is a senior manager within the workers compensation process here in Australia.
At first; I wasn’t sure if the questioner was serious, or if the person was just testing me to see what I would say. However; the questioner was quite serious so I responded “they just want to get up in the morning and go to work, not at a tokenistic job, not at a host employer, they want normal work and they want to do what they did before they sustained a workplace injury. They want to plan for their holiday, they want to buy a new car, they want to save for their daughter’s wedding, they want to buy their own home. They want whatever it is that represents normal.” I also added “they want to be as far away from the workers compensation process as is possible because even though they have had to rely on workers compensation to get them back to as close as possible to pre-injury health and well-being- it is simply not tenable to remain locked inside a system for an extended period of time.”
The questioner was neither perplexed or surprised by my answer, more the questioner seemed to pondering why none of what I answered was what others within the workers compensation concept had put forward before. The questioner responded to me that from the vantage point held within the system it appeared as if all that the injured worker community wanted was access to income payments, compensation payments and medical treatment(s). In other words, all that the legislation provided and the employers paid for.
It was my turn to ask a question: I wrote on a paper napkin the questioner’s name and a series of numbers; then I asked which did the questioner prefer. The response was understandable, the questioner preferred the name over the number.
I explained that at Craig’s Table the only time that a worker’s compensation claim number was used was when the came in, the claim number was recorded on the file because that is how the workers compensation concept works.
However; for Craig’s Table we only use names, and even then, only the name that each person wants us to use. Just the restoration of a person’s name for some of the participants was a massive step forward. On the odd times when it is needed to speak to a case manager only a person’s name is used even though the system “suggests” that the claim number be used for all forms of communication.
The other major difference for the participants at Craig’s Table is that the discussion is always forward thinking about returning to the workplace or going on to study in order to return to the workplace.
The questioner asked why the conversations at Craig’s Table are different to what is had elsewhere within the workers compensation process. I answered the conversation is based at Craig’s Table are based on the best of all possible outcomes and what needs to happen in order to achieve what ever it is rather than the workers compensation system “finding” something.
Even part of what we do at Craig’s Table comes from all the research I have done over many years, it comes from speaking with numerous people within the injured worker community and it comes from what was missing throughout my own experience of the Australian workers compensation process.
At the end of the conversation I was not sure if the questioner had a better understanding of what the injured worker community are seeking or not or if all I had done was provide another perspective. I guess either the questioner will want to continue the conversation or not- only time will tell on that one.
Yours in service