It’s Time: The Case Conference

After a five year fight to be recognised as ‘damaged enough’ for the powers that be, I’m on the top of the mountain. A long, steep climb with an obscene amount of hurdles to jump. But I think I can say now that I am at the pointy end of the process. The beginning of The End. Thank. Fucking. God.

I’ve ‘passed’ all of the assessments, each by a new (strange) psychiatrist, usually every three months.

I’ve done whatever has been asked of me by the insurance company of my former employer.

I’ve taken the medication, spent hours upon hours pouring my guts out to various counsellors, mental health nurse and a couple of eccentric psychiatrists.

I’ve kept journals, tried natural therapies, meditation, talismans, crystals and read so many texts on How To Manage This.

I’ve been lucky enough to become part of a group of women who share, learn and grow together.

Most importantly, I started sharing here.

All mostly positive learning experiences and opportunities for reflection and forgiving myself. Because when enough people blame you for your own abuse, you blame yourself with cruel regularity.

I’ve been surviving but also rebuilding.

The next official step in the legal process is a Case Conference. This is an informal meeting of myself, my lawyers and the lawyers representing the other side. The purpose of this meeting (which is compulsory, kind of like mediation before Family Court these days) is to try to resolve the case and avoid the need to go to Court. Again.

I must attend to advise my legal team regarding any ‘offers’ made regarding a settlement but I should be in another room to where the lawyers all discuss issues at hand or negotiate. This is to protect myself should they say anything offensive or upsetting. I will chat to my lawyer and barrister just prior to the conference. The timeframe of a Case Conference can vary from half an hour to a full day but the average is apparently one to four hours. Sounds like a day in the park…

I can take a support person, and someone has offered, but I think I’ll probably go it alone. It’s hard to imagine.

It is hoped that the ‘other side’ is prepared to make a settlement offer as the idea of a Court hearing with a jury is in no one’s best interests. If the do not make any offer, we prepare for court. This would add another twelve months to the wait.

The hope of a settlement is based on where we are at now. The original perpetrator pled guilty in the County Court. It has been proven that the damage done to me at work was a direct result of being sexually assaulted, stalked and then bullied for saying something about it and expecting help (what was I thinking?!?). The damage to me has been ruled likely permanent, stabilised and basically ‘as good as its gonna get’. I’ve met the almost unmeetable threshold…30% Whole Person Impairment.

So, what price my body, mind and mental health? The wages I’ve lost over the last five years? The wages I should have been free to earn for the next thirty years? Pain and suffering? The constant grief of being kept from a career I dreamt of, that I was made for. That made me so happy. And that I was good at.

Apparently it is unusual to be facing this at my tender young age. I had at least 30 good working years left in me. That’s a significant amount of time. I was going to be a Leading Teacher, Assistant Principal…Principal even.

I need the money to live off at this stage. But I also need the money because it is the only way I have to seek recognition of what happened. It won’t say ‘I’m sorry they were such assholes’ on the cheque but I’ll read it that way as it suits me. Finally, I want this money to set a precedent. I know it won’t ‘cure’ me and I’ll have a lot of work to do to help the anger fade with time but I will have pushed the boundaries as far as they possibly go. And if I win, when the next person meets a lawyer, distressed and unable to go on, the lawyer may say that a workcover battle is a very difficult one but they will be able to say, “We’ll, there was this one case in 2013…” and maybe that worker will feel a bit stronger.

I’ll report back after the meeting next week.

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One thought on “It’s Time: The Case Conference

  1. I’m sad that it’s 2016 and I’ve just discovered you. You have given me back my strength to keep fighting and heading in the direction I WAS going. My story is eerily similar to yours. Mine wasn’t the same titled abuse, mine was I’d witnessed major contamination within the company ( south Australia’s largest landfill on 22 hundred acres.) I worked for and lived on work site location. 10 years of being a highly respected dedicated, honest HARD worker. Down the drain because we knew too much. We were now a threat. 5 people in total were slowly, brutally traumatised, bullied, harassed, tortured and forced to either resign or be laid of as redundant position. I copped most of it as I was the manager in most areas of daily operations. My job description was broad. Titled administration manager, I was the Weigh bridge operator , administrator, labourer in many areas. Wether it be picking up blown around litter from the cells, managing and logging well depths against table water depths every day, 7 days a week, cleaning the staff toilet and shower facilities, hiring staff, ensuring all safety standards were met and addressed, communicating and taking direction from EPA, loader operator to help get a job done quicker, photographer ( each day at closure, photos of the cell in operation had to be photographed to prove that coverage of clay was done and to standards) , staff time sheet management ( checking that no fraudulent times were claimed and signing them off as correct claim), machinery logging each Sunday which involved me getting the hours from each machine ( bit like odometer) and record this information on a weekly machine hours sheet ( approximately 12 machines details to record, notify management when machine hours were up and due for servicing, fuelling generators a very 12 hours that pumped table water to keep leach at a safe level from it ( this ment no going away for a weekend, longest we could leave our work/ home was 10 hours, no family vacations as one person had to be on site at all times for the generators and security, client liaison for approved dumping and requirements met. Look I could go on and on. Silly thing, I was on the go constantly with several injuries that I just pushed through and had them managed by my gp as a private patient ( not work cover, by choice) . The injuries caused sleepless nights due to pain. There wasn’t a day that went by I wasn’t pushing through my pain barrier and sustaining more slight injuries, these included burns from the generator pipes as to access the servicing parts, headaches from heat exhaustion, general bangs and bruises….. My poor body was slowly falling to pieces, but I switched off and kept going.
    So in summary, to be put on poor work performance management, was not only a shock, but totally confusing. It wasn’t until I looked back in hindsight that we realised that all these strange changes of attitude and treatment was due to ” we knew too much” get rid of them, makes me sick to the stomach still. Unfortunately, I now suffer from a severe neurological disorder ( don’t get this confused with a mental disorder). This disorder is caused by major physical injuries without the rest required and the trauma, mental trauma, exhaustion and bullying. My brains wiring has shut down. Like a computer overload. No chance of recovery, I have this for life. It’s worse than most cases of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. My symptoms are like that of ms, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy and a stroke victim. I have seizures, temporary paralysis, malabsorption, severe stomach and bowel disorder, kidney disease ( pyelonephritis), migraines, comatose like shutdown for around 3 days every 2 to 3 months, give or take, autoimmune disorder ( food, dust, chemical allergies) , chronic over sensory problems ( noise, movement, and patience issues), was on watch and wait with my blood results for 18 months due to leucocytosis on the verge of lymphoma, that metastasised to all my lymph nodes throughout my body. All these things I have to live with for the rest of my life. They are not temporary illnesses or diseases, they are permanent. My life has to be in such ridiculous balance for everything I do, physically, mentally, diet, rest, exercise etc. I call it existing, not living. I’m in the so called prime of my life (45) with two gorgeous daughters and 3 grandchildren, another on the way. A part of life that I have always looked forward too. It kills me that I can’t be that grandma I wanted to be.
    I ended up on workcover with 7 medical approved claims ( not including my neurological disorder), in process now of adding it. However, my income was cot off after the 130 weeks or whatever it is, I was deemed fit to work. No tests, no medical examinations etc, just an administration decision. I lost everything, went bankrupt, told my then partner of 20 years to move on without me. Naturally he didn’t want to, we had a magnificent relationship. Always did from the day we met. Why would I throw it away ??? Because I was no longer that person he met and could not offer him happiness from an unhappy person. You know the saying, ” if you love something set it free”. Well that’s what my soul decided. I went my way….. Living from my car and just couch surfing. A lot of things in between, but to get to the point, we are now living together as friends as he would not give up on me. It’s working fine the way it is, but still a lot of covered up sadness.
    I don’t do sick, never ever did. I believed I was in control of that. Not many friends know of my journey of pain and illness as I can’t stand whining. It makes me feel even weaker. On the positive side, I suppose only the strong survive , endure the hard path and keep going. ( a lot of pit stops) , but get back up again.
    Being such a strong dedicated honest person has not paid off for me and now when I need it the most, I have to dig deep.

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