Vic emergency staff want PTSD recognition

Police and paramedics unions in Victoria want the onus of proof for post-traumatic stress disorder claims back on the govt insurance company.

Victoria's first-responders want to be believed when they say their post-traumatic stress disorder is work-related.

The ambulance and police unions say their members see more trauma in a day than most people do in a lifetime but are too often rejected for workers compensation.

They want the state government to introduce legislation that presumes post-traumatic stress disorder in emergency services workers is an occupational illness.

Victorian paramedic Belinda Ousley has treated the beaten victims of child abusers, attended fatal house fires and sometimes tried in vain to resuscitate people in cardiac arrest.

She took time off with PTSD last year, and eventually began the "daunting" workcover process in July.

Despite having her employer's support, her PTSD was deemed non-work-related by government insurance agency WorkSafe.

Ms Ousley was horrified.

It put her under further financial and mental stress and she became suicidal.

"Before I started the workcover process, suicide was not even on my radar," she told reporters on Wednesday.

Ms Ousley battled for another six months and eventually had her claim approved.

Paramedics union secretary Steve McGhie said about two-thirds of all PTSD claims are initially rejected by WorkSafe and many take several months to settle.

"I'm sure part of the agenda is to frustrate people, to tire, to fatigue people to no longer put up with the process," he said.

Unlike a broken leg, it can be difficult to pinpoint a single incident that caused PTSD.

But the unions say it is appalling to say it is not work-related.

"To put it quite bluntly, we strongly believe the current workcover system makes our members sicker," said police union acting secretary Bruce McKenzie.

Worksafe and the state government have been contacted for a response.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Source AAP

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