Government figures revealing that nearly $14 million has been spent on the surveillance of injured workers in the past year has confirmed that the practice is out of control, according to Slater and Gordon lawyers.
Slater and Gordon workers compensation lawyer Craig Sidebottom said the large amount of money being spenton surveillance, as revealed by the Herald Sun today, was “extremely alarming”.
Mr Sidebottom said the funds would be better spent on preventing workplace injuries and helping the injuredget back to work than “spying on innocent citizens”.
"I think Victorians would be outraged to learn that the Victorian WorkCover Authority is wasting $14m a yearon snooping and spying on injured people," Mr Sidebottom said.
"Imagine being an injured worker, knowing that people are in cars are hiding around corners, filming you andyour family, for days or weeks on end. They could be watching you when you are doing the shopping, on yourway to see the doctor or even spending time with your kids. "
He said many of the firm’s WorkCover clients had been subjected to “unwarranted and unnecessary” surveillance.
“We are finding that all too often, when someone has lodged a common law claim, they are being followedaround and subjected to surveillance. It is a gross invasion of privacy."
“Our clients are being investigated at a time when they are trying to recover from a major injury and instead ofbeing focussed on that recovery, they are dealing with being filmed and watched while carrying out theirordinary business."
Mr Sidebottom said the level of funding spent on surveillance needed to be reviewed and capped.
“It’s deeply concerning that the authority does not appear to be showing any restraint in this area. We acceptthat people doing the wrong thing should be caught, but the VWA seems to be doing it with little thought orrestraint."
"Millions are being spent putting good, honest people under surveillance. We question the level of time and thelarge amounts of money being spent, for what is a very limited return.”
“It is time for the VWA to rein themselves in - investigators should only be engaged by the VWA when there isa reason to suspect a fraud being committed, not just someone is lodging a compensation claim.”
“The VWA needs to redirect its funds to preventing workplace injuries and helping injured workers get back towork."