Orange’s Annette Thorncraft led calls to scrap the workers compensation scheme so it could be replaced with something that was fairer for workers.
On Wednesday Mrs Thorncraft joined Country Labor candidate for the Orange byelection, Bernard Fitzsimon, and state Labor’s industrial relations spokesman Adam Searle, for a rally in the CBD.
They led representatives of the Injured Workers Support Network, Central West Community Union Alliance and Unions NSW in protesting changes made by the NSW’s Coalition government to the compensation scheme last year.
Mrs Thorncraft is still recovering a broken tibia she sustained at work and when she asked for help through the compensation scheme, was denied several times.
“I’ve got the help I need now, but I had to get a lawyer to get that help,” she said.
“I had to buy my own wheelchair because I couldn’t walk and (the independent medical examiner) said I didn’t need it. I was in 24/7 agony, I couldn’t move or get out of the house.”
Bathurst’s Mel Cox traveled to support the rally, and while she can’t vote in the byelection, she wanted to send a message.
After being injured at work, she needed the help of a lawyer to access support.
“I was left without a job, plus a mental health injury as a result of a failed surgery,” Ms Cox said.
“The message is the same everywhere, injured workers need the support to recover and then get back to work.”
Mr Searle the government had refused to do the right thing for injured workers. He said the only people benefiting from the changes to the workers compensation scheme were employers who had lower insurance premiums.
“Injured workers have been badly treated by the state government, thrown on the scrap heap and families have been destroyed because of a lack of appropriate financial and medical support,” Mr Searle said.
According to Mr Fitzsimon “if you don’t want to get dumped on the scrap heap, if you don’t want to end up on the dole for the rest of your life, you need to say a prayer that you don’t get injured at work”.
Mr Fitzsimon defended bringing unionist and party members from Sydney and beyond to campaign. “What are the Nats doing? We’ve got heaps of local support, the only problem is most of them are working.”