Cartoons and humour

Have you been referred to HealthQuest?

By Laura McNamara

Here is some advice your union won’t give you. Some of it is taken from advice given to political dissidents in Soviet Russia. This might come as a shock - the unions - most notoriously the N.S.W. Teachers Federation and the P.S.A. - are in on this scam and will dump you the minute you are declared “unfit”, saying it is now a “medical matter”. As well, the government uses HealthQuest to circumvent the anti-discrimination laws, which allow for you to be sacked if it can be “proven” that you cannot carry out your duties of office.

First and foremost you need to decide what you want. Would you be happy to be medically retired? Because if your public sector employer has referred you to HealthQuest, the expectation of the employer is that HealthQuest will issue a certificate of retirement. These certificates are quite fake and fraudulent, yet your pay officer, super fund, employer and even you, will act as though they are real. In the real world, you cannot be retired unless you consent to it. But you will be forbidden to return to your workplace under threat of police being called if you ignore the instruction to retire. Find out from your super fund what benefits you might be entitled to and compare the lifestyle you might have with the dirty business of fighting this. If you are very strong mentally and even physically, you may be able to come out on top though it will take a number of years.

You may be thinking to yourself, “If they dare to say I am mentally ill or otherwise unfit for work I will sue them.”

Don’t even bother to think “court” in relation to HealthQuest. Many have tried and only three or so have succeeded. Others who’ve won their case in a lower court have lost when the government has appealed. The N.S.W. government in particular is prepared to throw millions of dollars at barristers and solicitors in order to cover up their corrupt and unsavoury activities. What hope do you have! HealthQuest doctors have protection at the highest levels - government and judicial. Nothing is going to happen to the doctors at HealthQuest if they lie about you. And the government has gathered a nice little group of medical practitioners who are prepared to lie whenever requested. They don’t call it lying, they call it “having an opinion”.

The June 2005 Newsletter of HealthQuest, which is aimed at employers in the government sector contains a very sinister statement:

“To ensure you are obtaining the services you need from HealthQuest and to discuss those occupational health issues which just will not go away at all, clients are being contacted to arrange a meeting time with our CEO Alison Viney, please take this opportunity to ensure you are getting the most out of your occupational health provider. In addition over the last 12 months our CEO has addressed larger groups of HR managers. Topics of interest have included “Getting the Most from your HealthQuest Referral”, “What Happens at the Examination” , “When is the right time to refer to HealthQuest.”

You have probably heard of the “medical appeals panel”. This corrupt “panel” has been known to overturn HealthQuest doctors’ decisions only twice. You do not get a chance to appear before the panel. You do not even know when they are going to “meet”. They can do whatever they damn well choose with complete immunity as far as the Health Care Complaints Commission, I.C.A.C., Medical/Psychologists Registration Boards, etc. You can complain all you want. You will be sent in circles by all of the above for about four years, while they assure you your complaint is being looked into, and at the end of that time you will receive a letter in the mail stating that HealthQuest has not been found to be involved in any corrupt or unethical activities. Others have been there - don’t waste your time.

Give some thought as to why you were referred to HealthQuest. If you are a whistleblower, you have probably made the mistake of revealing your identity to your colleagues. Whistleblowing needs to be done as anonymously as possible. Perhaps you were concerned about health and safety matters in your workplace which led to disagreements with management. There is no freedom of speech in the public service or teaching service. Everyone who joins should be told that. If you rock the boat or don’t toe the line, you will be out on your ear. If you are a teacher, most likely you have had a terrible class which you were not able to “control”, resulting in parental complaints and your being put on an “improvement programme.” The DET has no useful strategies to deal with this situation. For example, they could put you on relief duties for a year to help you recover from your stress. They could offer you part time work, a transfer, a year or two working in regional office on non teaching duties. But no, as soon as a teacher shows signs of weakness or stress, they are shunted out, and the union doesn’t give a damn. The fact is, that if the teacher were given a year or two off classroom teaching, they would most likely recover and continue as excellent teachers. Some teachers are unsuited to teaching grades other than K-2. So why can’t they be allowed to teach the grades they are most suited to? Why throw them out if they can’t manage a Year 5 or 6 class that they just aren’t equipped to manage?

Next think of your family. If you have children to support, you are going to have to sort out your finances. You are going to need to plan ahead if you are going to fight this injustice. Because believe me, YOU ARE ABOUT TO BE SACKED, no doubt about it.

You do have an option and that is, refusing to attend the HealthQuest medical examination. If you do this, you will be dismissed for disobeying an allegedly lawful direction. However, the good news is that the Industrial Commission is more likely to be sympathetic to you when you lodge an unfair dismissal claim. Do NOT employ a solicitor or barrister unless they are provided free by the union or legal aid. You don’t need to lose tens of thousands more in case you lose your case. Do it yourself. You’ll have plenty of time on your hands to study the law unless you find another job right away. You are very likely to win six months’ wages if you go the unfair dismissal route. However you are not likely to be reinstated to your position, although it has happened. As soon as you are dismissed, start looking for another job, because it’s going to be a long road and you are going to need money and the self respect that comes with bringing in a wage. Any job will do - even packing the shelves at a supermarket.

The best thing is not to fall out with your colleagues in the first place....or, if you are a teacher experiencing discipline problems with your class, quickly resign and apply for employment in the private system before you have been dismissed as no private school will employ you if it comes to that. Arguments in the workplace and disagreements over corruption, assault, harassment and so on which goes on in the public service are all very well but the consequences can be devastating for you. You will find your workmates will adopt the position of siding with the boss, in order to save their own skins and set themselves up for future promotion. Furthermore, your former work mates will supply statements to the boss in which they will tell the most disgusting lies about you, even using your sense of humour and workplace jokes to make you look “insane”. If you have ever gone to the water cooler for a drink, they are likely to write “He/she shirks his/her work by constantly hanging out by the water cooler....” Scumbags, you bet they are, but it’s typical pack behaviour. Don’t count on those dear workmates for support. You may even have made a protected disclosure, but no-one cares. Just keep in mind that I.C.A.C. itself is corrupt.

Now let’s suppose you have decided to go to the HealthQuest appointment and take the consequences.

The Moscow School of Psychiatry developed a psychiatric diagnostic system which, by the 1970's, became the standard approach to diagnosing mental illness in the Soviet Union. Under the Soviet diagnostic system Soviet dissenters were classified as suffering from a serious mental illness, particularly schizophrenia. In N.S.W. we know of one dissenter who was diagnosed at HealthQuest with “schizophrenia”. He is a very fine person of excellent character who complained of smoking in his workplace, the Gaming and Racing Board in the early 1990s. His family, friends and G.P. never noticed any schizophrenia because of course he does not have it. The Soviet dissenters fell into five main diagnostic groups: advocates of human rights and democratization, nationalists, would-be emigrants, religious believers, and citizens inconvenient to the State. They shared the characteristic that they had deviated in some way from social norms and conventions laid down, and regarded as obligatory, by the Soviet state" In all likelihood you have “deviated” from these “norms” by raising concerns in the workplace or standing up for the civil and human rights of others. Because the dissidents' actions of dissension to the Soviet Union alone were considered evidence of their mental illness, psychiatrists were empowered to commit them to psychiatric hospitals. In N.S.W., you cannot be committed to a hospital by HealthQuest, but you can certainly be certified “insane” or “unfit”.

So now you are well aware of what is about to happen to you. It is certainly more dignified to resign or be sacked from your job but this is your choice. Of course, you may have been referred to HealthQuest because of a physical disability but the advice is much the same.

Firstly, you are entitled to take a support person into the interview with you. They will not be permitted to speak but they could take notes.

Do your homework. Do not be fobbed off by the letter stating that you have an appointment with HealthQuest with “a doctor”. You are entitled to know the NAME of the doctor and his area of speciality.

Next you need to find out what court actions the doctor has been named in and what has been said about him in court. Go to this website and type the doctor’s name into the search: http://www.austlii.edu.au/

In particular, you will find Dr Mahadev mentioned as well as others. Let HealthQuest know in advance that you are aware of this case or that in which the doctor to whom you have been referred has been shown to have behaved badly.

Do a Freedom of Information Request which costs $30 and obtain your whole employee file and your HealthQuest file. Be aware that you should have a support person with you when you open the envelope because many public servants have felt suicidal when reading the vile and disgusting lies and filth on their files placed therein by bosses or HealthQuest staff. There will undoubtedly be work reports written by colleagues who are junior to you in which they will claim that you are a complete fruitcake. Although the second article of the N.S.W. Teachers Federation Charter states that no teacher should speak ill of a colleague, that won’t stop your fellow union members from damning you to hell. You should obtain the file before proceeding to your appointment so there are NO surprises.

It is worth noting that the new government medical officer Dr Dodwell has apparently never been involved in any corrupt activity in his home country, New Zealand, that we of the Committee can ascertain. We are still searching.

However, a Google search of other HealthQuest staff is advised.

You can also contact Whistleblowers Australia to enquire about the past history of doctors. One of the most notorious psychiatrists in the state has the surname Roberts; there are several Dr Roberts so be sure you have the “right” (or wrong!) one.

On arrival at HealthQuest with your support person be prepared to answer any questions relating to your past health history as creatively as is necessary to keep you out of hot water. This is the advice that was given to Soviet and Chinese dissidents who were referred to psychiatrists. If you are a very honest person, don’t feel bad. This doctor is going to lie about YOU regardless so why not get in first. Remember you are dealing with a corrupt system and honesty will get you nowhere.

Beware of any gynaecological questions if you are female. You never had any gynaecological problems. The births of your children were easy and uncomplicated. Remember that psychiatrists still associate the womb with hysteria. You have never had anxiety or depression. You are a happy and cheerful person. You have no strong religious or political beliefs.

You sailed through menopause with barely a hot flush.

If you are divorced, you won’t be able to hide the fact because your employer would probably already have informed HealthQuest.

State that the separation was very amicable and you are still in touch with your “ex” and on excellent terms. Never admit to any domestic violence or arguments.

Your children are good and easy to manage. They’ve never caused you any problems. You love your parents and they were never divorced and never argued. You get on well with any brothers or sisters. In fact you have had NO major traumas in your whole life.

Don’t volunteer the names of every medical practitioner you have ever seen. Volunteer the name of one that you have seen rarely and who doesn’t know much about you because you will be forced to sign a form authorising HealthQuest to obtain information from your G.P. Due to privacy laws, if you don’t volunteer the names of all your doctors, no-one can find out. Some doctors from the past might have troublesome things on your file, such as that you were very upset by a divorce, miscarriage or other mishap and were prescribed Valium. Remember that virtually every prisoner in jail is there because he volunteered information. I recommend reading Chopper Read’s stories for further clues on how to deceive and stay “clean”.

As for psychiatrists and psychologists, you have never seen one (unless this is on your employee file and you can’t get out of it in which case gloss over it and play it down).

Also beware of admitting to any major accidents as a child. Particularly, do not mention any head injuries. This will give the HealthQuest doctor material you don’t want him to have.

If there have been disagreements with colleagues, you are going to have to play those down as well. Speak well of your colleagues, even if they are a vile bunch of backstabbers and snakes. In fact, speak well of everyone. You do not want to come across as argumentative lest you be labelled with some kind of “personality disorder”.

Do not mention arthritis or chronic pain. If your G.P. has it on file, say it’s gone away and you’re fine now. If your G.P. is likely to write that he recently prescribed a sedative to you, tell the HealthQuest doctor you never got the script made up.

If you do insist on going to court with an anti-discrimination claim or unfair dismissal, at least you will not have unknowingly have loaded your HealthQuest file with material helpful to the enemy.

If you have had a situation similar to the whistleblower nurses or you have reported police corruption or something that can’t be easily denied, then going to the media with a protected disclosure may scare HealthQuest off. Also if you have high profile friends, have them write letters of protest to HealthQuest at your referral to that organization.

Behaving yourself and telling the truth will get you nowhere with HealthQuest. You have nothing to lose but your job - and you’ll probably lose it regardless, so throw everything you’ve got at them and protest loudly about HealthQuest corruption.

Laura McNamara, civil rights activist.

Laura has an interesting family history, being related to Augusto Pinochet and descended from I.R.A. commander Michael McGrath.