A teacher has successfully claimed $22,770 workers compensation for the traumatic experiences he underwent while educating students across three schools in NSW.
The Supreme Court decision marks the end of a three-year battle the man has fought with the Department of Education, which originally rejected his claim.
Approximately 45 per cent of Australians will suffer a mental health problem in their life, according to beyondblue. In a given year, 1 million people in the country suffer from depression, while more than 2 million are diagnosed with anxiety.
The plaintiff had both these conditions following years of anguish at the hands of pupils, including false allegations of sexual misconduct, blackmail and physical assaults.
One incident involved a child who suffered foetal alcohol syndrome. The student was punching the plaintiff repeatedly in the stomach, and – unable to stop the violence – the teacher locked himself in a classroom. The student ran repeatedly at the door, trying to get at the plaintiff.
“The image of that child running and smashing his face into the window continues to haunt me to this day,” the man explained in a written statement.
Furthermore, after successfully helping a student overcome a social phobia, the teacher was often asked to educate most pupils who suffered from the condition.
He claimed any time his efforts to assist students failed it would affect him emotionally. At this point, he had already been diagnosed with depression and was prescribed anti-depressants.
However, the defining event that left the teacher unable to “confidentially teach” again occurred when several students said the man had been sexually inappropriate towards them.
While they later retracted their accusations, the pupils continued to threaten the teacher with further claims if he refused to let them misbehave.
The Department of Education put the plaintiff under surveillance after he made a workers compensation claim for his mental health problems. After watching him give performances while teaching a music group, the agency’s insurer refused compensation.
The teacher pursued legal action and was awarded $22,770 in May 2016. The department appealed the decision last month on several grounds, but was unable to convince Justice Peter Garling that the panel’s ruling was an error.
Ultimately, workers compensation can provide a crucial financial safety net for people who are unable to return to employment due to illnesses or injuries they have suffered during the course of their job.
But insurers don’t always approve legitimate claims. If you feel you have been unfairly refused a payout, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to discuss your case.